Farewell To A Friend
By Dr. Lorin Swinehart
Our daughter Hope’s aging mixed breed Labrador retriever recently passed away. My wife and I always referred to Kodi Lynn Dog as our grand-dog. Kodi and I enjoyed many walks near our daughter’s home in North Carolina. Kodi’s passing leaves a vacancy in all our hearts. A few days before she left us, I sent Kodi this e-mail, which I am now sharing with the readers of El Ojo del Lago.
Dear Grand Dog Kodi,
I know that you are going to have a wonderful time trading stories with some of my oldest and very best friends. Give them a shake of the paw from me. First, is my grandpa’s dog Bobby, who used to slip up the road to the neighbor’s place, steal the farmer’s dog’s dish and carry it home. You will love those stories. I would see Bobby merrily running down the road with the other dog’s dish in his mouth.
Grandpa’s big hounds, Mitty, a black and tan, and Lead, a redbone, can tell you all sorts of hunting stories. And my first dog Tippy, a mixed breed beagle, will tell you about the time he went raccoon hunting with Grandpa and the big dogs, but decided that running around in a rainy woods at night wasn’t his thing. When we got back to the farmhouse, he was fast asleep under Grandma’s woodstove.
Buddy, the fox terrier that my sister and I grew up with, can tell many stories, like the time I was sitting around my campfire in the swamp behind Grandpa’s house when I was about 12 and heard him barking. I rescued him just before a huge, very angry snapping turtle sunk his jaws into him.
Belle was a beautiful golden retriever who agreed to come live with me when she was a year old. She can tell you many stories of our wandering in the woods. When things became too hectic and stressful in my life, Belle and I would head off into the woods for a a few hours. She didn’t like cats. The neighbor’s cats would prance around on the other side of the fence at home because they knew she couldn’t get at them. One got stuck on the wrong side of the fence one time, and she gave him a piece of her mind and a good shaking to boot. I think the feline trespasser still had a few of his nine lives left, but from then on he remained on his own side of the fence and no longer teased Belle.
Tiger, my border collie, can tell many stories of living alone when she was still a pup in the mountains of New Mexico and catching grasshoppers to eat. My backpacking buddy Gary and I rescued her from the site of her family’s abandoned Hogan one brilliant autumn day. Tiger accompanied me on many camping trips and backpacking adventures all over New Mexico and Arizona and up into the mountains of Colorado. Ask her about the time I picked her up just before she bit into a porcupine.
I lived in a little Navaho town called Tohatchi that year. Tiger would go out prowling each evening. I was amazed that she didn’t seem to ever touch her bowl of dog food. Then one day, a friend explained that she had at least six houses she would visit each evening, begging for a handout.
Lexi will just have to tell you about the summer she stayed with me at Put-in-Bay, on an island in Lake Erie, where I worked as a ranger. Once, on our evening walk, a wicked llama poked fun at her tail. Lexi was determined to go back and have a fist fight (er, hoof and paw fight) with it, forcing me to drag her for miles down the road backwards. She will also tell you about the time the Anheiser-Busch Clydesdales pulled their beer wagon into the parking right outside the bedroom window. When I got off duty that afternoon, she told me all about it as she ran excitedly from window to window, explaining to me that her barking had frightened the huge beasts off.
I know that you will have many stories to share too. Tell my old friends that I will be along someday and to continue to frolic in heavenly meadows until then.
See you later.
Shake of the Paw,