Many people will walk in and out of your life, But only a true friend will leave paw prints on your heart.
Many people will walk in and out of your life, But only a true friend will leave paw prints on your heart.
You were the best mutt a farmkid could ever have hoped to enjoy a slice of life with. From the first day I saw you in that corncrib I knew you would never leave my side. You always had an uncanny ability to know where I was and got there quicker than anyone else. Your feats are legendary amongst all my friends and family. You survived everything from trucks to coyotes. Duke, your hunting ability was incredible. How you knew exactly what to do will always amaze me. The impact you had on everyone who came to our house was profound. The day you passed, I got more calls than I had on my birthday. I will miss coming home from college and tackling you, rolling around the yard. I will miss you being by my side. Laying by the fire with you the last night I was home will forever be with me. When Anna, my 2 year old niece, visiting Mom and Dad she began crying and could not be consoled by the absence of your presence. I feel the same way every day. I am glad you went quickly and were not in pain. I am glad that Dad got home in time to hold you on your last breath. I wish I was there like you have been for me. I will miss you. I will never be able to replace you. I wish I knew what to do now, whether to get another dog or not. All I know is you will not be forgotton.
Much love, Duke
Genesis 27:3 Now then, get your weapons--your quiver and bow--and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me.
"You get too fond of a dog. Not until after his death do you realize how much he meant to you. I sometimes wonder if the pleasure in owning a dog is worth the misery caused by his death." J. A. Hunter, 1952
"I have never owned a dog like Buff, before or since....You get too fond of a dog. NOt untill after his death do you realize how much he meant to you. I sometimes wonder if the pleaeur in owning a dog is worth the misery caused by his death." J. A. Hunter, "HUNTER" 1952
I wrote this for my friend and hunting partner of 14 years, a day before the vet came to my house to put him down.
Your Head on My Lap
For Kane - 4/3/99 - 11/10/12
Second pick, from a litter of eight,
there were three black males, I
could hardly wait!
Holding you gently on your back
with my hand, you kicked, licked
and struggled, your energy was
"He'll be a lot of dog," was the
breeder's insight. Not long and I
realized, he was absolutely right!
A pro trainer I was not, so I
purchased a book. We joined a
retriever club, we did what it took.
To make you a gun dog, a pet and a
friend, was my goal that first year,
much time we did spend.
I made some mistakes, and patient I
was not, but with your big heart and
desire, through my deficiencies you
At eight months of age, you
retrieved your first bird, that
pheasant was big, but you wouldn't
I don't know who was more proud -
you or I. You delivered to hand,
and in the blink of an eye....
You were hunting again, and so it
went for years. Pheasants, ducks
and geese, and some blood, sweat
The time has now come, Kane, for
me to let you go. Our years in the
field have taken their toll.
As I reminisce over the past
fourteen years, it seems like a blur,
or is that just my tears?
Great memories of hunting - too
many to comprehend, but in the
end what will stand out was that
night you were my friend.
Five years ago and a feeling of
despair, on the floor and in tears,
life seemed unfair. Quietly you
walked up, awakened from your
nap, you nuzzled my chin and laid
your head on my lap.
So tomorrow my friend, we must say
"goodbye". You will feel no pain in
that field in the sky. I will be with
you as you take your final nap,
holding onto you tight, your head
on my lap.
Kane died yesterday on that same kitchen floor where I was sitting when he comforted me five years ago. I will miss him.
Where to start…
The beginning is usually the best place I guess. It begins, as it was told to me, in April of 2000 in suburbia Dallas when a small yellow puppy was thrown over the backyard fence of a young couple with two very young boys. They had no idea where the puppy came from, but she was all alone and was so adorable that they just had to keep her. So they did, and they named her Sophie.
Shortly thereafter, this family moved to the Phoenix area and through a series of events I was asked if I wanted to adopt Sophie, a now 2-ish year old Yellow Lab. When Holiday and I met her, she was still just a pup really. Super excited to meet new people and trying to figure out if this big new guy and his big black dog were cool or not. She must have made up her mind pretty quickly because, before we knew it, Holiday and I had Sophie loaded up in the back of our SUV with all her gear and we were headed home. We broke the news to Scooby (our human roommate) that we had another dog in the house and he almost immediately coined her “Sophie-Doo”.
Sophie and Holiday became fast friends. Their demeanors were quite different from each other. Sophie was a pretty cautious dog, where Holiday was not. Sophie was social when she felt comfortable, whereas Holiday became quite aloof. Holiday was the embodiment of Alpha and Sophie was the Omega, but they made a good pair for that reason. Holiday was big and fast, Sophie was lighter and quicker on her feet. It made sending them after the same bumper a real affair as Holiday would get to it first but slide past it by a few feet, allowing Sophie to snatch it up and play keep away from Holiday until Soph could eventually get the bumper back to me. But there seemed to be a real kinship between them. Sophie was somehow able to smooth some of Holidays “rough” edges and Holiday, in turn, looked after Soph and made sure she was safe when I wasn’t around. They reminded me a little of Old Dan and Little Ann from the novel Where the Red Fern Grows.
About a year into it, we all decided we needed a change of scenery and moved up to Flagstaff. It was a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively) for all of us. Lots of wide open spaces for us all to play and more friends (two and four legged) to play with. We lived in an apartment at first, which was tough; nowhere to run while Dad was at school/work. But it was adjacent to a large piece of USFS land; lots of room to run when Dad got home. Once, Soph and Holiday got out of the front porch area and were picked up and taken to the pound. I was none too pleased about the whole thing, but when I went to pick them up I remember Soph being SO scared about what was going on. She was shaking and drooling all over the place. I couldn’t stay upset with her for long. Holiday was indignant about the whole thing so I blamed her for them getting arrested anyway. J
Soph and Holiday went everywhere with me; Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and all over Arizona. There is a photo somewhere of the three of us standing on three of the Four Corners. We went camping, swimming, snow shoeing, chased squirrels, and drank beer. I took care of them and they took care of me.
Late in 2005 Soph and I took a big hit. It was time for Holiday to pass on. We both took it pretty hard but none harder than me. Soph really helped me out during that rough time. Somehow she understood that we were all each other had at that time. Much like she did with Holiday, Soph helped smooth out some of my rough edges. It was little Soph that helped soften ornery old Holiday and me a little bit.
Life moves on as it often does. Soph and I got another year older. I graduated college. We moved a few times to what seemed like all corners of Flagstaff. Some places good. Some bad. Sophie was not shy about letting me know when we moved into a place with terrible people and/or terrible dogs. Things were good for me and Soph. She had the fortune of being my second dog, which meant I had some experience in being a dog “owner”. She also had the misfortune of being the first dog I had ever tried to “train” in any official sense of the word. But as usual, where my patience dwindled, she remained ever “Sophie” and helped teach me lessons that will be valuable for the rest of my life.
Somewhere in that year I was at Pay N Take, drinking beer, and watching the Yankees play (surprise, surprise). I met a nice girl who was there doing some exact same thing with some friends. This little scenario happened a couple more times when eventually this girl and I decided to go out on a real date. But just to make sure I had this Yankees loving, beer drinking, girl on the hook…I took her to meet Sophie. Six years and one baby boy later we still sit and watch ballgames and have a beer together. Thanks Soph.
There is more to this part of the story though and may be the most important year of Sophie’s life. Amy loved Sophie so much. Soph became her dog…not mine really anymore, as that love was reciprocated back to Amy ten fold. I had just brought Phobos home and was spending a lot of time training her to hunt. Amy decided that she and Sophie were going to do some training of their own and become a certified therapy dog team. And certified they became. Amy and Soph would eventually visit local elementary schools on a routine basis where 1st and 2nd graders were learning to read. Soph would sit with the kids and let them read to her. It was almost as if the kids were teaching Soph to read, which gave the kids a real boost and made Sophie a happy dog. Nothing I ever do with any of my hunting dogs will come close to comparing to what Amy and Soph did that year. I was, and still am, very proud of both of them for their courage and inspiration.
Time has not been so kind to Soph the past couple of years. Somewhere along the way she tore both her ACLs. Doc told us that other than that, she was in great shape. Still, it made our walks a bit shorter and a bit slower than they used to be. She developed bumps here and there like most old dogs do, but Doc said she would die with them rather than fromthem. Muscles become tired and joints start to ache and pop. Just getting up and down the stairs was becoming hard.
This year has been the roughest for Soph. Oral meds and monthly injections have helped manage the pain, but the grasp of Father Time is inevitable. It became increasingly clear to Amy and me that Sophie’s time was fast approaching. It’s never an easy question to answer though. I waited too long to make “that call” with Holiday and I swore I would never make the same mistake again. Soph spent some time with my folks a couple of weeks ago and somehow my Dad knew it was time as well. I was convinced she would make it back for Thanksgiving…my Dad never said a word. Shortly after getting her back up the hill it was apparent that it was time.
Today, Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, we let Sophie go. Amy and I thanked her for bringing us together, helping us both find a family. I thanked her for taking care of me…for teaching me patience. For putting up with ALL THE CRAP that Phobos perpetually put her through. For being the best damn dog ever. I asked her to remember who Holiday was. I told her that Holiday was waiting, with Teal, and to go find them. Find them and go play with Holiday again. Maybe they would take her hunting if she wanted to…something I regrettably never did. I let her know that Amy and I would be there someday because I subscribe to what Will Rogers said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
There are so many things I am forgetting here. How do you sum up 10 years of living and growing and loving with the same animal in just a few paragraphs? So many people whose lives Sophie touched. So many times I heard the phrase, “I’d get a dog right now if it could be like Sophie.” Or after Soph and I would hang out with some folks for a while I’d here, “Let’s look into getting a Yellow Lab.” And then they would, and realize that there is only one Sophie-Doo. So many kids’ lives Sophie touched, whether by helping them learn to read, being a blocker from other dogs (Funny story, ask Serena if she remembers Sophie at Randy’s Superbowl party), or just letting them stroke her ears that were the softest you will ever touch. So many adults whose lives she made better…none more than Amy and mine. I want to write about all that she’s meant to so many people but can’t find a way to express what that is. Nor do I have a grasp on the extent of what that meaning is.
I will miss her more than any words can describe. There are so many clichés about the ties that bind humans and dogs. All of them are true. So many stories about the pain of dealing with the death of a family dog. All off them gut wrenching.
Love you Soph. See you when I get there.
Smackwater jumpin jac chance - 4/24/1999 - 3/4/2013
one more day, one more time, one more sunset,
maybe i'd be satisfied.
But then again, i know what it would do,
leave me wishing still for one more day with you.
Rest in peace my dear and loyal friend...
It is what it is....
Black Kettle's She's a Pistol - 2009
Twolabs Her Chance to Dance - 2012
Twolabs Yancy's Fancy Pants - 2012
Dusy its been 2 years today that you left me, I miss you so much
Rip Croppers Gold Dust
Hannah, I am sorry we didn't go out on a walk in the woods last weekend. I had no idea you were sick. When you were acting lethargic Monday evening we just assumed you had eaten something you shouldn't have. On Tuesday morning you couldn't walk. By Tuesday afternoon you were gone. Only 7 years old......WAY too soon.
You had more talent than I knew what to so with. All of the successes you had we're directly attributable to you. All the issues you had were directly my fault.
The house is too quiet without you. The chair in my office doesn't seem right without you in it. The spot next to me on the couch is too cold without you.
You will be missed but not forgotten, friend.
Last edited by Dnurk; 03-23-2013 at 12:19 PM.
So there it sits...mocking me. Tears roll down my face and I think..."It's only a THING! An object! " Yet my tears, they do not stop.
I look at this ceramic object and reflect...
How often did I fill it? ....Not nearly often enough. I could have continued to happily fill it for years to come.
How many times did I clean it? ....I'd gladly do it, even one more time.
How often did it cause you happiness, when I picked it up? What I wouldn't give to see you dance for joy because THIS signaled one of your favorite times of the day!
How sad it is...to see a dog dish that has outlived it's owner.
....with a heavy heart, and tears that continue to stream down my face, I pick it up, and gently tuck it away...forever.
http://www.oakdaleretrievers.com/Remembrance.html "You'll Cry"
Training is not science, it is art. A blend of this, a measure of that, a deep breath at the appropriate moment and always a loving touch.