Friday, August 4, 2017

Saying Goodbye

You will find a change to the "Cast of Characters" noted on the right side of my Blog for Hank is no longer there.

It's been 25 days since we said goodbye to Hank and even as I write this, I get a lump in my throat and my eyes fill with tears.

Saying goodbye is always hard.  But J and I have both found that even after this period of time the pain of saying goodbye to Hank still lingers.

We've had many discussions about why the pain is still so raw and recognized that with our former dog Tucker, his body was still functional but his mind was failing.  Because he wasn't clearly cognizant of his surroundings saying goodbye to Tucker - although still painful, didn't produce the long-term pain of losing Hank.

Hank's mind was clear as a bell.  It was his body that had failed him.  Because he was cognizant of his surroundings it's been much harder to deal with his loss.

Bringing Ranger into the family prior to losing Hank was a good thing.  It was interesting to watch Hank show Ranger around the farm; i.e., we don't potty in the yard, we go out in the fields, etc.

But it was Hank's last trip to the cabin in July that gave us the biggest chuckle.  As soon as I opened the hatch to the back of my car the two dogs had jumped out and with Hank in the lead, they headed down to the huge pond near our cabin - the pond, Hank's very favorite place at the cabin.

Both dogs had returned soaking wet with big smiles on their faces.  Throughout the next six days the dogs would frequently go to the pond, initially both Hank and Ranger.

Yet as the days passed Hank's body became frail.  He would quietly lay in the front yard in the warm sun waiting for his pal Ranger to return from his swim.

Although we monitored Hank's activity at the cabin, those six days took their toll.  And yet as I reflect on his last days, there is no better way to leave us than that wonderful last trip to the cabin.

In these last twenty five days Ranger and I have returned to the cabin twice.  On our first trip Ranger had gotten out of the car and run to the exterior front porch door of the cabin, frantically pawing at the door.

I opened the door and Ranger ran to the inside front door of the cabin - pawing the door so hard I thought he'd break through it.  I'd opened the front door and Ranger had dashed inside, running from room to room.

...Ranger was looking for his friend Hank.

And I think he found him.

For Hank is in the cabin.

He's down at the pond.

He's out in our fields sniffing and wandering around.

And Hank is forever in all of our hearts.

Good Dog Hank

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Passing On The Torch

We watched him failing.

First with each month.

Then with each week.

And then with each day.

We agreed it was time.

Time to bring a new dog into our home.

Time to Pass on The Torch.

We took a trip to the dog breeder.  Into a barn and to a stall where the door was slid open and a waterfall of baby Chocolate Lab puppies spilled out.

I remember how heart breaking it was to be on this trip and how laughing at the attempt to keep all those puppies inside the stall felt good.

We were told us there was one other dog.  A 3 month old - inside the house.  Perhaps we might be interested in looking at him?  We agree.

Left alone we focused on getting the babies back into the stall, content to look through the bars at all those adorable puppies.

Suddenly something flashed past the barn door.

Once again it flashed past the door going the opposite direction.

We walked to the barn door and looked out to find a 3 month old puppy running free as the wind.

The love of life and joy of being free were apparent on his face.  J, my husband looked at me and asked me what I thought.  I pointed to that glorious, happy dog and said, "That one".

The Torch had been chosen.

We brought the youngster home.  C, our daughter, J and I sat down to name him.  Out of the blue C said, "How about Hank?"  We all laughed and agreed.

Hank would carry on The Torch.

Tucker's days were getting short and he was uncomfortable.  Yet he was gentle with Hank.  We watched with wonder as Tucker showed Hank around the property.

He knows.

The day to say goodbye to Tucker came too quickly.  With tears on our faces we returned home to Hank and found comfort in having him there to greet us.

The Torch had been Passed.

  Where do the years go?  So many balls and sticks...

And vacations...

Last night I dreamt Hank left us.  In my sleep I remember sobbing.  This morning I awoke to find him sleeping next to my side of the bed...something he hasn't done for a long time.

He knows.

We watch him failing.

First with each month.

Then with each week.

And now with each day.

We agreed.

It is time.

 Time to bring a new dog into our home.

Time to Pass on The Torch.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Long Time Gone

I've been a Long Time Gone.  When I last left my blog our daughter C, had returned to riding with both of us sharing Elvis.  We had moved Elvis down the road to a friend's place where we had the luxury of riding in her (spacious/private) covered arena.

Unfortuntely, our time of riding together didn't last long.  C's time is compromised with working and having a Significant Other.  Add the long commute to get out here/back to her home and she found herself with little time for anything else.

She returned to riding, rode like a dream, we had a lot of fun and then it was over.  But that's ok.  I'm left with the joy we had of sharing this special horse - and I know she feels the same. Add that I never expected us to return to a life we used to share.  So even if it was brief, I'm content to have been able to go back.

Elvis stayed away for the summer and early fall at the neighbor's place and in October I brought him back home.  Once home J and I spoiled "Our Boy" with deep shavings and a spacious foaling stall which opens to a paddock and the back winter pasture.  I know he's not a dog but he's about a dog as a horse can get!

Although Elvis has become friends with the neighbor's Alpacas, it has bothered me that he didn't have an equine buddy here to hang out with since we lost Bob a few years ago.

I started kicking that around - not in any hurry to find a pal, but keeping my ears open.  A few months passed and an opportunity came to us to "adopt" a horse from a women who was looking to find it a good home.

I invited the women over and showed her our place, had her meet Elvis and then accompanied her to meet her horse, finding it ironic that he should look like Bob.

It was a hard decision for her to let him go - something I understand and respect.  But a week later Elvis had a new buddy.

Riley is a domesticated Mustang from Eastern Oregon.  And just as Bob was, he's a sensitive horse who needs a different approach than Elvis.

The horses hit it off immediately.  Riley knows how to be a horse, whereas Elvis is missing some of that.  We're thrilled to have Riley join us and enjoy watching the horses interact.

It's been a rough winter that has lasted longer than normal.  As spring shows her pretty face I'm looking forward to working with both horses and finding time to return to this blog and share my stories.