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He was a campground favorite…”the dog who doesn’t bark very loud” due to previous owners debarking him as a puppy. Loved by adults and children alike, it wasn’t uncommon for families to say it wouldn’t be a complete camping trip if they didn’t stop by to say hello to him. He would announce the arrival of campers needing to register with soft squeaky barks, rarely stopping until they gave him a pat or two. This 16 yr old Sheltie captivated the hearts of all who met him.

From the moment he and I met 14 years ago, he stole mine!

Today he and I went on a final trip together. After weeks of agonizing, I knew it was time to let him go and find rest. Age was taking it’s toll… he could no longer manage to get in or out of the camper on his own, he was losing weight and not eating, and it was all he could do at times to manage any activity but in small short bursts. His eyes would say “Oh yes yes” but the body was not willing to follow.

So I sat at his head, holding his paws in mine, stroking his head and whispering to him how much I love him and how much he meant to me. His eyes never left mine until they closed and he slept for the final time.

I sat with him, my tears, and my grief for what seemed like hours.

This dog…of all the dogs who have ever shared my life…this one was the one who’d been through it all with me and loved me steadfastly and unwaveringly no matter what…

He was the one who was meant for me… going through 3 other owners in his first 2 years because they did not understand Shelties…until he came to the one (me) who did…

He was the one whose herding instincts came alive as he guided me through the house as I tried to reach the phone that was ringing, usually ending up in a pile and tripping over his prancing body…

He was the one who was stolen from me shortly after moving to a new state, only to find his way home on his own three weeks later…

He was the one who knew my every secret, my every heartache, and my every joy…

He was the one who would lay his head in my lap, looking up at me with his liquid brown eyes, when he knew that I was in need of comfort and love…

He was the gentlest of spirits, both with humans and other animals…

He was the one who thought bread the greatest treat in the world, often snatching a new loaf out of the grocery bag before I knew what was happening…

Ice cubes??? Never had a chance to melt before he chomped them down like a doggy popsicle…

He was the one who delighted in snow, taking his long snout and “shoveling” a path whenever he was outside…

He was the one who would lay on the floor with me quietly, pawing at my hand until I opened it so that he could slip his paw in mine, holding “hands” as it were…

He was the one who lay in the grass basking in the sunshine…his fur ruffling in the breeze… looking regal and serene as he surveyed everything around him…

He was the one who got so excited when I got out the treats that he’d go through the whole routine of commands without being told… sit, lay down, speak, shake hands, shake the other hand…repeating it over as I laughed…

He was the one whose favorite place to lay was right in the middle of the hallway, causing anyone passing him to do the hopscotch step around his body as he trustingly gazed up, never moving…

He was the one who would stand at the side of my bed and bark at the thunder in the night as if to protect me…

He was Harley’s big brother…the one who taught by example how to do things like tackle an unfamiliar treat or how to pee while you lift your leg…

He was the one who patiently endured Harley’s fits of playfulness and teasing… joining in for a moment before removing himself to a quieter place when he’d had enough…

He was the one I cradled every day as I lifted him in and out of the door…

He was the one I walked with last night for the last time…stopping at every tree to make sure that it was marked by him…and sitting together in the gathering dusk at a picnic table as I spoke to him of all he is to me.

Laddie may no longer be a part of my days, but he will forever be a part of my heart!

Rest well my old man… and wait for me at the Rainbow Bridge… I will see you there soon.

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