Ken Leighton 1 p.m., June 27
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Doggie Heaven: That Great Big, Happy Dog Beach in the Sky
I’ve tried to count them a few times and the number I’ve come-up with is nine or ten. That is dogs that have died in our Clairemont neighborhood this year, 2012.
Most have succumbed to old age, which is considered over ten or so in human years and about 100 in dog years, which is way old for any body. Our doggie, Chance, is ‘only’ seven now and we can see how age has already crept up on him; his stamina is reduced and an ever growing gray goatee are two examples. But he still has a happy, easily excitable puppy inside.
I would readily classify the Mt. St. Helens area as “dog friendly”. That statement is readily qualified by the fact that more homes in the neigborhood have (or had) a dog or multiple dogs, than those without one. I can, however, also understand and respect that some people don’t have affections for canines. That is their right. And for some, there is even a religious basis.
Our Chance is black so one of his many nicknames is “Negrito”; Spanish for “little black one”. A reason I have learned why some people don’t like and may even harbor a fear of our ‘gentle as a baby’ lab is due to his color. Where in our culture, there is a common belief that black cats are something associated with bad luck or even the occult, some cultures place the same labels on black dogs. Go figure.
Now back to the dogs in our neighborhood that have passed this year. Those wonderful creatures that I can fondly recollect that have passed of old age include: Brittany, Osa, Gear, two Daisies, Rocky and a few with names I didn’t know. It’s certain their deaths have been significant events for the owners who lost dear and loyal companions.
One thing I often say is “Dogs are great people”; quite loving and happy animals that provide great enjoyment to those who know them or get to know them. Something I cannot say is I don’t love our dog - no matter how precious and important he has become to me; because if I do, when he goes, I think it will make it a more painful loss. It happened to me once before with another pup, Shep, and the thought kept me from having another dog for over 25 years.
Speaking with a very wise old neighbor, Harold, I told him it would be best if I ‘went’ first (before Chance did). He said, “That’s right. Let him weep for you”, and we both laughed. I walked away thinking about how dogs are so good at teaching us about the often painful cycle of life. And that makes me recall three WWII veterans in the neighborhood also passed away this year, but that would have to be another story.
Back to the storyline about two hounds now gone to cancer to this year - Jet and Duchess. Jet was a family friend, and mentor to our Chance and really great little animal. Duchess was a large and majestic Italian breed. We didn’t see much of her, but each time I did, I couldn’t help from saying, “Wow” in amazement to her remarkable beauty. We always knew her from her deep ‘hello bark’ heard from the backyard each time we passed by Chris and Sherrie’s place. Sadly now, there’s also another great, big guy in the neighborhood, Shamu, that I’ve just learned may have cancer, too. When I was told this by his owner, we both hoped the doctor could be wrong.
Lastly, and the reason why I was prompted to write and post this entry is a little five-year-old Chihuahua who lived below. One morning last week, at just about dawn, while he enjoyed an unattended early visit to his backyard, two very terrible coyotes invaded his canyon-side territory. His owner, Mary Jane, heard the commotion of the intense attack and with significant effort was able to beat the two invaders off her miniature pet using a rake. When she got him inside, though, she found the injuries that he suffered were too great to for him to survive.
So, let this serve as a fond “adios” to all of those pups that are now gone, hoping they are enjoying their hereafter at that great big, happy dog beach in the sky. And to those who still have a dog buddy by their side, enjoy their company while we can.