As another year begins, I am so pleased to find letters of encouragement, friendship and reminiscing in both my mail and email boxes. Most are from longtime friends, some from newer friends, and even others from caring acquaintances. It’s a time of year many use for both reflection and “catching up”, and it’s good to reestablish bonds in this way.
This year it has been especially touching to me to receive numerous letters and current photos from those I have placed dogs with over these past many years. Most of those dogs are now seniors, and many that have passed on are still lovingly remembered by owners who still keep in touch. These are good and caring folks who always mention my own dogs by name, knowing that the number of seniors (which comprise most of my canine companions these days) here has dwindled considerably over this past year and a half, as age and infirmity catches up with everyone all too quickly. As I retired from doing dog rescue several years ago, primarily to devote more exclusive care to the elderly ones (both my own and those rescues who never were rehomed for being viewed as “too old” even years before they passed), it’s been especially devastating to lose so many in just over a years time — despite the fact that all but one were well into their late teens and even into their twenties when they closed their eyes. Albert Payson Terhune once made the simple statement “All dogs die too soon”, and truer words were never spoken.
So as a new year begins here, I look into the faces of my now small crew of grey muzzled chums and feel a kinship beyond the years we’ve shared together. I also share their genuine loss of pack members for whom they have grieved just as much as I, and in who’s loss they also share a deep and heartsick pain. Anyone who has only known dogs in relation to themselves and not as part of a bonded pack has greatly missed out on experiencing the full depth of devotion, loyalty, and emotion our creator has bestowed upon this domestic creature we call “dog”. I feel blessed to have known a time before the world went crazy, when multiple dog owners like Albert Payson Terhune (who typically owned upwards of fifty Collies) were revered for their knowledge of and kinship with dogs, and inspired their readers to explore the love of canines as owners, fanciers, and admiring pack leaders.
Of course, as I look back, it is also proper to look forward, and despite a changing world marked by treacherous times and a majority of humans displaying a shocking degree of inhumanity toward one another (and far too often thinly veiled as some sort of feigned righteousness on behalf of dogs, no less), I am heartened to have dear friends, wonderful domestic animals, and the knowledge of a better world ahead.
My dairy goats will be kidding this spring, giving the dogs additional responsibilities in the work they love — not to mention a greater supply of the milk they thrive on. One of my hens is already looking “broody” and will likely be raising some new chicks within the next few months. The ducks are now outside, having feathered out in plenty of time to acclimate safely to the colder winter weather. Life, as they say, does go on.
The newest little light of joy that has entered my household has come from my dear friend Luella Thomsen of Cinder Glo Shelties. Knowing how much I admire her beautiful Musashi son, Ch. Wildoak Chisterling Timberlake, she determined that I would have pick of the litter from him and Luella’s beautiful Memorandum and Analyze This granddaughter, Connie. Of course, the litter had not even been conceived at the time, so when a most stunning little sable guy eventually entered into the world last fall, it surely seemed a match meant to be.
The story of his amazing plight, first to survive, and then to ultimately find his way here despite horrifying airline mishaps over the December holiday period is a blog onto itself. Yet he bounced happily into my arms and into my life with all the curiosity, trust, and sweet puppy breath his heritage promised. Hopefully he will never need to learn that the world is a treacherous place full of sociopaths and animal-terrorists, but be only secure and happy as a more peaceful future stands solidly before us.
Chekia Cinder Glo Teddy Bear is appropriately call named “Paddington” as the well known bear who arrived in London with the tag, “Please look after this bear” is a most fitting namesake for him. His honorary grandparents, London and Sarah, are seeing that he thrives as the sole youthful pack member. Already insightful beyond his mere weeks of age, little Paddington takes all things in stride, and encourages me to do likewise as he plays, cuddles, and looks knowingly into my eyes with his soft and endearing Sheltie expression. Life, indeed, does go on, and is enduringly precious.