Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kind Memories

James Herriot says in the introduction to his book, James Herriot's Dog Stories: Warm and Wonderful Stories About the Animals Herriot Loves Best, it is a sad truth, that dogs do not live long enough. But he also makes this observation, "It is a reaffirmation of the truth which must console all dog owners; that those short lives do not mean unending emptiness; that the void can be filled while the good memories remain." Thus his advice to clients who are mourning the death of their cherished dog, get another immediately. It has been a week since we had to euthanize our beloved border collie of almost 15 years, Damon. Although we have another dog, Mojo, it is difficult to express how empty our home is without Damon.

I've posted about the innate kindness of dogs before, sharing how much our dogs enrich our lives. Damon was only a few years younger than both of our oldest children, so his life is entwined with theirs. There were few vacations that did not include his exceptional life-guarding skills, or Hallowe'ens that he managed to find and eat all of our daughters' loot. The countless hours we spent playing hide-and-seek in the corn fields behind our first house, the peels of laughter as he pulled the kid's snow boots off and made them chase him across the lawn in their stocking feet, his incredible ability to catch any flying object, and the best party trick ever - he could flush the toilet, are memories that helped to define my children's childhood. He celebrated every holiday, and thankfully, every graduation. He loved not only our family, but all the children's friends over the years, and often made that apparent by trying not so inconspicuously to crawl on to beds, or into the middle of mass of bodies sleeping all over the basement floor.

I'm not sure how long it will take before I stop waking up to let him out in morning, or opening the front door with the expectation that he will be resting against it, or wondering where his food dish is, but let me assure you, it was the kindness of friends and family who supported us this week with their phone calls, cards, emails and hugs, that made the passing of his too-short-life bearable.

In particular, we were touched by the deliberate act of kindness of our daughter's floor mates in residence, who all chipped in to buy her flowers and an ice cream cake.

I'll leave you with a few pictures of our beloved Damon:

Today we went to look at puppies.......

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