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'My Old Dog'
I said good bye to an old friend last week. My dog Allie. A mutt with a crippled foot, sort of a long haired dachshund but not quite. She found me in downtown Cushing nearly 11 years ago and I took her home with me. She added much to my life that I have yet to fully fathom.
One week after taking her home I had a heart attack and in the ensuing weeks and months while Karen was working herself to death to nurse me back to health and keep the house and business afloat, this little bright eyed dog sat in my lap night and day keeping me company and letting me know I was not alone.
A few years later when Karen developed lung cancer Allie was her steadfast companion as well. Making certain only those she trusted were allowed near her sick bed without undergoing intense barking and close canine scrutiny. Karen was not one to think too highly of animals on the bed but she made a big smiling exception in the case of Allie. She would reach out to touch the dog and her face would dissolve into a peaceful countenance.

Unconditional love, non judgmental companionship, night or day, right or wrong, rain or snow and all those tired old cliches were made new and fresh with her presence.
At first thinking her crippled and bent front paw was a hindrance to her we babied her. Until a few days into her stay we noticed she could outrun the rabbits and squirrels in the back yard and climb the maple tree to harass the squirrels in their nests. I learned (again) from her not to judge a perceived handicap too readily, if at all.

After Karen passed away Allie and I got even closer, if that's possible. She had run of the house and the yard and loved to sit just inside the open front door splay legged and ears raised eagerly observing the activity on Broadway. And commenting from time to time.
Always ready to take a walk through the park or around the block. Or a ride through the country if it was offered. Or to simply sit by my side and do nothing at all. Whatever I needed in the way of a partner she was ready and willing with eager eyes. No questions asked.
She had not been herself lately and a couple of weeks ago took a big downhill slide seemingly overnight. Finally wheezing, wandering off in the dark, refusing to eat or drink, staring off into space with a vacant stare and then unable to even attempt to move it was quite obvious she had other things on her mind. Maybe she was thinking of new back yards, tall maple trees, new squirrels to chase, new paths to walk, a long sleep and a well deserved rest.
Thanks old friend. You were a bigger part of my life than you could ever have imagined.

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Comment by Rick Reiley on January 18, 2011 at 1:55pm
Thanks for the Jeffers poem!
Comment by wiffledust on January 17, 2011 at 11:47pm

rick, carla halversen eskelsen asked me to share this with you after she read your post. it's a posem by Robinson Jeffers, 1941 called "The House Dog's Grave"

 

The House Dog's Grave
(Haig, an English bulldog) 
By Robinson Jeffers, 1941

I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now 
Run with you in the evenings along the shore, 
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment, 
You see me there. 

So leave awhile the paw- marks on the front door 
Where I used to scratch to go out or in, 
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor 
The marks of my drinking- pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do 
On the warm stone, 
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through I lie alone. 

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet 
Outside your window where firelight so often plays 
And where you sit to read--and I fear often grieving for me-- 
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard 
To think of you ever dying 
A little dog would get tired, living so long. I hope that when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear 
As good and joyful as mine. 
No, dears, that's too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been

And never have known the passionate undivided 
Fidelities that I knew. 
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many- sided. . . . 
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. 
I was your friend. 
I loved you well, and was loved. 
Deep love endures 
To the end and far past the end. 
If this is my end, I am not lonely. 
I am not afraid. 
I am still yours.

Comment by Ericka Gray on January 17, 2011 at 8:41pm
I am so sorry for your loss of your precious  Allie. Those crazy canines wiggle their way into ones heart like nobodies business. I am glad she brought both you and your wife so much comfort as  I am sure that you did the same for her at the end. Rest in peace Allie.
Comment by Toby McConnell on January 17, 2011 at 8:21pm
Very touching tribute to a relationship that brought you and your family so much. You did a wonderful thing adopting her ... or shall I say letting her adopt you? I believe that our companions don't live considerably longer because it would be that much harder to bid them farewell. I'm very sorry for your loss.
Comment by wiffledust on January 17, 2011 at 7:34pm
this is so beautiful, rick.  i am such a dog lover. and i can imagine a bit what you are going through in losing dear allie, a best friend. someone that you shared healing and grief with. you certainly described a four legged friend who more than outdid herself in terms of serving her masters well. it sounds like she lived several lifetimes in one. but i'm sure that doesn't make it hurt less. i hope it helps you to know that you were such a great doggie daddy who gave her such a fun AND meaningful life. thank you for sharing her with us.

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