Thursday, November 6, 2008
The Last Walk
Ten years ago our third son Joel went away to college, leaving a distraught and lonely Megan stuck with two of the most boring humans on earth (Mom and Dad). As the days went by, and Megan was not coming out of the depression, Kevin and I then made a decision to find a friend for her. Around that same time, Megan and I became volunteers at the Humane Society, where we would go every week and help clean out the cat room. As we did this, we would check out the dogs. We looked at several different dogs, but none of them seemed like a good fit, until we saw the little tri-colored beagle. Undersized but enthusiastic, she won our hearts in an instant. Her name was Sara, and in a couple of days she had adopted us. An immediate change came over Megan. Every day when she came home from school I'd send the dog out to great her, and who can resist a happy, tail wagging dog? The first year of having Sara in our house Megan claimed that she still liked cats better then dogs, but after a time her allegiance shifted, and now I'd say she's a hard core dog lover. I'm writing as if this was all about Megan and Sara, but this is really about all of us and Sara.
I was the kid that dragged home every stray animal that I came across. All I ever wanted was a dog. With a sister having sever asthma this was not a good idea. That didn't stop me, I persisted until Dad and Mom broke down and gave me a dog for Christmas, and I have to say that I would rank that gift as the best Christmas gift I've ever received. He was a little brown mutt that I named Barney. I loved that dog and he followed me everywhere, sometimes that wasn't so good. If I wanted to go to my best friend, Karen's house, I would have to sneak out of my house and run fast to her house, to get away from Barney. About an hour after I had successfully dodged the dog, he would track me down and be crying at the Swenson's door. I loved the dog anyway, and was devastated when he disappeared. For weeks after he was gone I would search the neighborhood and countryside calling and whistling for him. He never came back.
Along came Megan's dog, Sara. She and I became fast friends and I loved how she was so happy to see me every single time I walked in the door. We spent many hours walking, reading and napping together. If I lay on the sofa she would lay on my feet to keep them warm. Soon after she arrived in our house we discovered that she had a marvelous singing voice, and I loved to hear her bay, (most of the time) at the bunnies, squirrels, and anybody who rang the doorbell. She was smart and easily learned a boat-load of cute tricks that she would perform for anybody that came to the house. She loved the next door neighbor Pauli, and spent time laying next to her on the bed when she was dying of cancer. Every night when Megan went to bed Sara slept next to her like a little sister. When we walked past the bus stop every morning all the girls would want to pet Sara. In other words she was a well loved dog.
You may be wondering why I'm writing this post. Well, today was Sara's last day with us. A couple of months ago we noticed a change in Sara. She was having some problems of which I will not detail here. We kept hoping that it was just a faze and would go away. After some time we realized that it wasn't a faze and we would have some difficult decisions to make. Yesterday I called the vet and made arrangements to have her euthanized. This was a heart wrenching choice to make, and even now I can't stop weeping. This morning we took her on her last walk, fed her, and that was it. When I look back on the ten years she spent with us and the pain at the end, I'd still do it all over again. When I walked in the door from work today, there was no Little Buddy to greet me, and it seems a bit lonely. Here are some of the things that I learned from Sara.
1. Always show friends how happy you are to see them again.
2. Every day is the best day of your life.
3. If you have a tail, wag it a lot.
4. Forgive people for angry, harsh words.
5. If you feel like singing, let loose with all your might.
6. Don't be afraid to show bullies that your not afraid of them.
7. Don't be afraid to back down from a fight if you think you might get hurt.
8. When you itch, scratch.
9. Getting dirty isn't a bad thing.
10. Snuggling is good.
11. If a friend is hurt, give them a kiss.
12. Take long walks as often as you can.
13. If you eat your dinner you'll get a treat.
14. Don't ever turn down a really great meal.
15. Most car rides are great.
16. If you love someone, let them know.
17. If someone pulls your tail, bite back.
18. Cats are a lot scarier then they look.
19. Take every opportunity to chase a bunny.
20. Love without expecting anything in return.
Farewell Little Buddy. I have no doubt that if we meet in heaven, you will greet me with tail wagging, happy face, and dragging Barney behind you.