As Queen Elizabeth II said, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Lets face it the love of a dog is unique, as is their loss. If you’ve owned a dog you will appreciate the uplifting flutter of joy that comes with having a wet nose shoved in your face followed closely by a slobbery kiss and the crashing sound as a wagging tail knocks something off the coffee table. The bond is intense and unconditional.
I met the ‘brown dog’ in February 2003. She was the flea infested runt of a litter we were told were labrador boarder collie crosses. A timid small brown moppet with a white waist coat, white tips on her paws and tail, and a look of surprise.
The labrador never did arrive, but luckily I loved kelpies and had owned one of these intelligent and tireless working dogs with the almond shaped watchful eyes before.
She came to be known as Jarrah due to her coat being the same color as the timber of that name with the hues of a Western Australian landscape. I did eventually suspect she may be a Western Red kelpie as that is the dog she most resembled.
The thing kelpies need most is a job. Jarrah and I went to dog training and practiced what were learned. She became my exercise coach, running or cycling with me daily and nipping at my toes to try and get me to go faster. At 15 years she was still running about four kilometres a day, if at a more leisurely pace. Playing with the frisbee was her favorite game as a young dog and she could snatch a frisbee out of the air two metres above the ground returning it again and again and
again. She was also fond of ‘helping in the garden’ and would test the depth of holes I was digging by dropping her frisbee into them to get my attention.
The intensity of kelpie energy is matched by the intensity of their loyalty and Jarrah followed me everywhere, making friends along the way by demanding opportunistic pats from passing strangers. Car rides were exciting adventures, especially when the destination was the beach. The ground where we live is to too hard to dig but the beach is perfect and Jarrah dug as if she was making up for lost opportunities.
I sweated through fifteen summers, refusing to turn on the ceiling fans because Jarrah was afraid of them. I went for a run on days I didn’t feel like it not wanting to disappoint that pleading face. I missed her on long holidays even though I knew my friend was taking great care of her. As she got older and wanted to go out in the night I got up as many times as she needed me to, knowing I would wake up tired in the morning. All for the love of that dog.
As the vigor of youth dimmed into old age Jarrah maintained her desire to help out by supervising my work in the garden. She no longer wanted to chase the frisbee but would interrupt me for a cuddle or to let me know she thought it was time to go inside and lie on the couch.
Sadly this week, as the fine autumn weather gave way to the first signs of winter that beautiful vibrant girl succumbed to old age. This afternoon the vet came and euthanized her and we buried her with her frisbee in a hole in the front yard where she loved to potter around. I will miss my old friend.
Images: the brown dog