I can still remember getting him in 2002 as a Mother's Day present for Erin. Just a little round, brown puff of a dog.
An Australian Shepherd mix, he grew into a brown, bundle of energy. He was our very own ADHD, 4-legged child. Yes, he was a handful. Yes, he had his moments. But, we loved him.
He was imminently happy when we moved to Plains and had acreage all around us. Chasing after his arch-nemesis the chipmunks. Getting chased by coyotes. Rolling in cow shit just because it felt so good. Barking into the darkness just to scare the bad guys away. Taking a walk and showing up at gramma's house over the next ridge. It was puppy heaven.
But, his favorite place of all was our property at Vermilion Bay. He loved to chase the squirrels. Swimming in the lake and shaking his wetness all over us on the deck. Taking walks and runs to "the point". In his younger years he would run himself to the point of limping. But, as soon as you headed out for a walk he wouldn't hesitate to shake it off and head out for another adventure. We would come home from a weekend at the property and he would be most of the next week resting up and recovering.
But, he was 10 years old. Over the last year he was really starting to show his age. He spent a lot of his time just sleeping. He didn't much care to be outside unless you were out with him. He had started to show a few breathing problems. And, there was even a day at Vermilion this summer when I actually had to help him get into the pick-up.
And, then, on Friday night he went out in such a Tsavo sort of way. We had gone up to Vermilion for the Huckleberry Festival weekend. I had also brought up a bunch of my high school cross country kids for a pre-season "camp". Well, we were all having a great time. Tsavo had been swimming and chasing chipmunks. Best of all, one of the girls was throwing sticks for him, playing tug of war and chasing him. He was having a grand time.
And, then - he just fell over. Erin ran over and called to me that he looked like he was having a seizure. I ran over. He was seizing and we tried to calm him. His breathing was shallow and his heartbeat was very fast. And, then - his eyes glazed over, his heart stopped and he was gone. Just like that - my buddy had left us. It was very surreal and very sad. Even now, I'm tearing up thinking about my poor puppy just laying there limp on the ground. I couldn't believe that he was gone. We suspect a massive stroke, heart attack or aneurysm. Whatever the cause - he's gone.
So, here it is 8:30 at night and we have to bury him. I can't yet do any shoveling after my ICD implant. So, I had to recruit two of my boys to help dig the hole. (They were troopers and did a great job.). We found a nice spot on the bank above our camp. It's a spot where he used to run up and down chasing chipmunks and squirrels.
Yes - it is incredibly sad to no longer have our buddy with us. But, he passed quickly with no pain. We were there with him as he breathed his last and were able to comfort and pet him. He had a great day of running, swimming and chasing forest creatures in his favorite place in the whole world. We didn't have to agonize over declining health and having to make the call to put him down. He didn't have a long, lingering illness. In the end - it was a pretty great way to go.
But, I already miss him terribly and it's going to take some time to get used to not having him greet me at the top of the driveway when I come home; or waiting at the door in the basement when I come in; or having a buddy to take on hikes around the property. But, we'll always remember Tsavo as our first family pet. RIP buddy - you silly ol' dog.
|Tsavo Dog - at the Vermilion property earlier this summer|