|"The Kennel of Hope"||The Newsletter of Animals in Distress
P.O. Box 609 Coopersburg, PA 18036
|Vol. XXX, No. 3||May 2007||Editor: Lois Gadek|
In this newsletter:
Members of the Family
We are very appreciative of the people who adopt animals from us, and provide the one-on-one attention to those animals that make these pets feel special. Most people adopting from us feel part of the Animals in Distress Family, and keep us posted about how the pet is doing - either through visits, notes, emails, or phone calls. Those of us who loved and cared for the pets before they were adopted deeply appreciate these updates, since we love these animals as much as we love our pets at home.
Inevitably, all of us must die - and that is a reality of our existence. But we are never really gone if those who loved us keep our memories alive in their hearts. Our friends, parents, spouses, pets - all live in the many memories we have of them, in the feelings that death can never destroy.To illustrate that truth, we share with you news we received about the passing of one of our dogs, and we wanted to share it with our friends because it reflects the loving home the dog had and the joy that this discarded pet brought in to the lives of his family. Many thanks to ALL the wonderful people who have adopted pets from us (and other rescues or shelters), and thank you to all of our donors, volunteers, and staff for making such happiness possible.
“Look at these two…Friends Forever.”
This comment was often made by my friend, Gail, as we would walk our German Shepherd Dogs along their favorite walkways and trails in the town where we live. They did make a beautiful pair…moving at their flying trot effortlessly and with such grace, ears erect and alert, mouths open and smiling, sable tails flowing behind, shoulder to shoulder, stride for stride. They were canine poetry in motion. They were such great friends, these two, who had come from Animals in Distress almost 10 years ago. Ten years is a long time in dog years and passes in the blink of an eye.
Rescue organizations do not always see the extent and depth of the lives they change when they place their animals. When one animal goes out, there is such a waiting list of animals to come in that the mindset has to be that this one is safe, the priority has to be the next needy creature. I want to share with you the story of two AID dogs, Sam and Sierra, who just happened to be German Shepherds. It is about canine bonding and the value of friendship.
My husband, Jeff and I adopted our boy, Sam 10 years ago; and Sierra, Gail’s girl, was adopted a short time after. We live close to each other and were able to meet frequently for long walks and play periods in a protected area where we live. Watching the two dogs interact with each other and perform their canine rituals was a source of constant entertainment and joy for us.
Their meeting ritual was the funniest. We would meet at “the designated meeting place” halfway between our houses, and the act would commence. They would approach each other at breakneck speed, Sam barking his head off, and Sierra looking like she was going to tear his throat out. You could see passersby brace themselves for the impact. Then the two dogs would stop short of impact and kiss each other.
There were other rituals. We always walked the dogs in the first snow of the season. That was always our favorite interaction. Tennis ball retrieval was also a great ritual. Sierra would retrieve perfectly again and again, her person never having to move a foot. Sam, well his idea of the tennis ball ritual was to get as many as he could in his mouth and lay on the rest. The dogs had a place they returned to after their play periods. When play was over, they would gather up their tennis balls and return to “their meeting tree.” There they would lie butt to butt, Sierra guarding her ball, and Sam chewing on his.
Their personalities were very different. Sierra was an alpha lady. She always had to be first. We nicknamed her Little Miss “Me First.” Extremely athletic and social, she was a contrast to Sam’s more laid back personality and coolness toward strangers. Sometimes, returning from our romps on the mountain, we could hardly make it down the street without Sierra greeting everyone she knew, throwing herself on her back for a tummy rub. Sam would lie by my side and nap. They were bookends of yin and yang. They were just always together, and enjoyed their lives and each other. Because of Sierra, Sammy even had children in his life. How he loved his walks with Gail’s grandchildren.
When Sam’s veterinarian diagnosed the degenerative spinal myelopathy which would end his days, we made the most of the days we had left. Sierra seemed to know that her old friend was slowing down, and she became his therapy dog. When he could no longer walk fast, she would stop, turn her head and wait for him. When our walks had to be shortened to strolls around the block on level surfaces, then to the perimeters of his grassy yard, she was content to stroll with him. Then, later, she was content just to lie in the grass and visit with him, both of them dozing butt to butt as they had done at their “meeting tree” for so many years
When his appetite began to fail him, Sierra would come to our house and have supper with him. He always ate better when she was there.
The last time the friends saw each other, their greeting was gentle, far more subdued than the old “rear-lunge-kiss” of old. When they parted, Sam watched intently as Aunt Gail and Sierra made their way up the street to their house until they faded from view…and then he watched some more.
When time came for Sam to be loaded into his car for that last vet trip, we passed his friend’s house. He turned his head toward her house one last time - just to see if she too might be coming, as she had so many times before.
Later that day, I had to tell his dear old friends of his passing. Did you know that dogs grieve? They do. So do their human friends. I wanted to tell them in a way that Sam would have liked. I said, “Gail, Sam is gone. He wanted me to tell Sierra that this time, he is going to be first.”
We buried Sam in one of the friends’ favorite places. When I went to visit his grave that night, someone had left a pink rose on Sam’s grave. I knew who left it because Sierra has such roses in her back yard. Thank you, Sierra. Sammie would have liked that.
Sam Straup GSD
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