The Passing of a Grand Dog

Walker1With deep sorrow, I announce the death of my only granddog, Walker, who succumbed today to the ravages of bone cancer in Austin, Texas.

At the risk of alienating half my readers, although I fully understand and respect their importance and value to others, I admit that I’m not a dog person. I don’t want to take care of a dog or be tied down to a dog’s schedule. I don’t like being jumped on (my friend Martha the Dog Trainer could help with that), I don’t like having dogs climb into my lap, I hate being licked, and doggie smell is one of my least favorite ones.

Only two dogs in my adult life have nuzzled all the way through these barriers to my heart. One was my father’s miniature Alaskan, Pixie, who could have charmed a smile from Ebenezer Scrooge. The other was my daughter’s rescued greyhound, Walker. Perhaps the fact that neither of them lived with me helped seal my half of our mutual affection, but neither of them jumped on me, invaded my space, or licked me, and their doggie smell was mild.

When my daughter announced yesterday that Walker was in such constant pain that his meds no longer worked and all he could do was moan, she asked that friends and family send stories about him as a memorial. That’s a request I was happy to oblige.

I described the way our relationship began with a good crotch sniff and was cemented with dozens of trips out to check Walker’s “Pee-Mail.’ Greyhounds lack a keen sense of smell or direction, so he was hopeless as a guide, but on our rambles I had amble time to ogle some of the most elegant and historic mansions in Austin.

I mentioned how gentle and patient he was with occasionally rough tots, and his antics when left alone long enough to get bored. I recalled how his lean good looks and knowing gaze reminded me of a canine Sean Connery, and when he wore his scarlet paisley fleece “smoking jacket”, I imagined he had a long black cigarette holder and martini stashed nearby. He was straight out of Esquire and perfectly suited to play the lead in spy thrillers.

Since I spent only a few weeks with Walker in the eight years he lived with my daughter’s family, my stories are limited, but I hope that they are a comfort now, and a source of memories for my granddaughters in years to come.

Especially for those of us who do not have animals in our daily lives, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that their passing leaves a void in the lives of their immediate human families as surely as if they were also human. Just as stories of departed people help us through their passing, so pet stories can ease pet owners through this knothole of loss.

Write now: about animals in your life, past or present. Perhaps they were your own pets, maybe borrowed ones, or even wild animals that touched your spirit. Write about someone else’s animal and share the story with them.


Samantha M. White said...

What a marvelous writer you are!! No one could want a more eloquent eulogy. I see what you mean about his being handsome . . . strikingly so! I would venture to wager that you would like my dog, too (Lacey, white toy poodle) . . .she doesn't jump on people, either, and she's very polite and elegant. I believe that these dogs whom we rescue understand that we have given them a new life, introduced them to love, and they are very appreciative of us and respectful of the culture of the family they have become a part of. I never understood the place a dog could occupy in my heart before we rescued Lacey, and now I know I will miss her as much as she would miss me when the time comes that one of us must leave the other. Rest in peace, Walker, Gentle Dog. I'm glad you got to experience The Good Life with a family who cared about you.

SuziCate said...

Walker sounds like a grand dog, indeed. I am a dog person and losing our family dog four years ago was devastating. Of course, we now have another furry addition which has stolen our hearts as well. I think writing stories about these loved ones is a great tribute. Just like people, they can be characters!

Sharon Lippincott said...

Samantha, Lacey sounds like a sweetheart. I do enjoy visiting with individual dogs on occasion, as long as they don't slobber and climb all over me. I know Susan will read these comments and appreciate the thoughts.

Sharon Lippincott said...

You are so right about dogs being characters. In fact, many dogs are main characters in stories, like Marley and Me. Just thing how many stories you've read with dogs, cats, horses, even whales as main characters. Walker surely could be one!

Karen Walker said...

Our dog is definitely a member of our family and it is very hard when you lose someone, whether it has fur or not. I am sorry for your daughter's loss. I would, of course, have a special thought for a dog named Walker.

Sharon Lippincott said...
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Sharon Lippincott said...

Oh Karen, of course you'd relate to Walker! You would have loved him under any name. On Susan's behalf, I thank you for the condolences. May your current canine accompany you into the sunset.

kathleen pooler said...

Sharon, You really brought Walker to life on the pages here through this heartfelt tribute. It's so amazing how our furry friends become our family and we feel their loss deeply when they leave us. We have two Golden Retrievers- Rosie,13 and Max,2. Rosie is failing daily and we are bracing ourselves for the inevitable. She has brought us so much joy. I totally understand your sense of loss.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Kathy, I'm so sorry to hear about the impending end of Rosie's time with you. Have you written about her, or maybe plan to do so?