A tree for Achilles.

You may remember that we let go of Achilles, aka Chili Dog, earlier this year.

Our vet clinic is in a network which gives people who let go of a pet, buy and plant a tree in the pets’ memory. So there’s been an informal ceremony every October since the year 2000. The municipality generously allows this to happen in a public park. We’ve planted trees for BoJo, Kendal, and Stella. So of course we bought a tree for Achilles. I put in a request for specific species, a Red Oak (Quercus rubra), which is native to both Texas (where he and I came from) and Ontario.

The ceremony was today and it’s a fine October day – mostly sunny, cool, and breezy. I was very, very pleased to find a healthy Red Oak sapling tagged with Chili’s name. So we planted it. It was no trouble at all, just like Achilles was. It’s near Stella’s and Kendal’s trees.

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I may not live long enough to sit in its shade. That’s fine.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. -Greek proverb

Achilles’ Bentley glows brightly.

We let go of Achilles Saturday. He quite abruptly became lethargic. Had difficulty standing, refused food, so we went to the emergency vet.

The exam revealed that his pulse was thready, she was unable to clearly his heartbeat, his paws were cold. Something sinister (the vets’ exact word) was happening. it would have taken extensive testing and diagnosis to find out what was going on. Considering his age (14? 16? More?), aggressive action was problematic. We made the hard decision to let him go as gracefully as possible.

When we adopt a dog we implicitly make a bargain that we will be a responsible owner, which includes making difficult decisions.

This is the part of that bargain that really sucks.

Nonetheless I would not have it otherwise. As my brother wrote this morning, ‘It really sucks that our dear four legged friends will almost certainly die before we do. Even knowing that I would not give up the love, affection, friendship and fun they give us.’

The Bentley is a forehead blaze common to Australian Cattle Dogs and ACD crosses. When an ACD goes on ahead, the ACD world says ‘His (her) Bentley is glowing brightly.’

Chili’s glows brightly now.

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A journey ends, a journey begins

My journey with Stella has ended – in one way.

I prefer to not share all of the details of how and why. They are between me and Faye, Stella, our vet, and the Knower of All Things. It’s enough to say we are blessed with a vet who came to our home and helped us let go, with Stella’s head in my lap.

I adopted her over 13 years ago, discovered a new and deep sense of purpose. We learned from and trained one another. We prospered through the years of Avis and Moonpie becoming senior dogizens, being adopted by Corndog. We met Faye and I gained another new purpose. Someone to love and be loved by.

We let go of Moonpie, Avis, Corndog, and gained a new four footed companion – Achilles.

We moved to a new life, a new country, met new dogs – Rex, Kendal, BoJo, fosters Charlie and Lucy – and let go of them. Achilles is still here. We met yet another foster, Fitzi, and he has stuck. He’s the right dog at the right time.

I hope that Stella had a full life. Some people might have done more to keep her here longer. I believe it’s better to let go a day too soon, while she still had dignity, than a day too late.

I’m sad – for me and for Faye. Among the bargains I made when adopting her (that anyone makes when they adopt a dog or cat) was that I’d probably outlive her.

My sadness is tempered by gratitude for having years together, learning from and about one another. Deep gratitude to the family who trusted me enough to let me adopt her.

I don’t believe in the Rainbow Bridge. This isn’t a criticism of those who do believe, only a statement that I don’t believe. I don’t believe that Stella or any (every) dog I’ve owned will rush to greet me at the Bridge. She has too much good stuff to do, to spend eternity at my side. She’s too busy power-chasing squirrels and keeping them honest. There are too many rivers, lakes, and ponds for a duck wearing a dog suit to swim in. And that’s fine.

A journey ends, a journey begins. Stella is no longer here yet she is here – in my memory, head, heart, and soul. So she lives on.

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Kendal

Faye and I had to make the difficult decision to let go of our beloved Kendal. His pain grew progressively worse, even with pain management medications.

I never want to let go of a dog. Yet its the kind, the compassionate – the right – thing to do, difficult and wrenching as it is.

I miss having him on the dog bed next to the computer desk. I’ll miss his shenanigans. I still and will always treasure him, and how he enriched my life. I’ve been very blessed to know and love him.

There is a saying. ‘He’s not gone, just gone on ahead.’

Thank you, Kendal. Thank you for scouting the way. I look forward to hearing your report.

Kendal