They stood on the deck and watched her slowly climb the hill. They’d watched her do it countless times before but this time something was different.
A few minutes earlier, they’d invited her and her kennel mate Jazz into the house. She was usually more than anxious to get inside. She was becoming more of a house dog all the time.
When they opened the door and told her and Jazz they could come in, Jazz in her usual way, bounded in nearly knocking them over. This wasn’t a tremendous challenge as she was a Great Dane and had a tendency to throw her weight around. Addy stood outside, looked at the hill in the distance, glanced back at them, and slowly turned and began her trek to the summit.
They watched her labour up the grade. She reached the top, lay down with her head elevated looking around and then slowly lowered her head to her paws. It was getting late in the day and she enjoyed the afternoon sun.
After what seemed like an appropriate length of time, it was time for her to come back to the house.
The man called “Addy” but got no response. She would usually raise her head and at least acknowledge the call. Not that she always came when called mind you. That occasionally required some thought. He called again in a louder voice and still no response. They knew that something was wrong.
Jazz had been standing at the door whining. They let her out and she immediately ran up the hill with the guardians in pursuit. She slowed down well before the top and almost reverently, approached Addy. Today, her usual bounding and jumping on Addy was nowhere to be seen. She walked up to her, gave her a sniff, a gentle nudge and then uncharacteristically, slowly lay down beside her. She assumed the same pose.
They now knew that Addy had climbed her last hill, sat on her last lap (she thought she was a lap dog), and had tolerated Jazz’s impertinence for the last time. This wasn’t the first time they’d lost a beloved animal but Addy’s presence both physically and emotionally was very large.
They sat down on the side opposite Jazz, placed their arms around the old girl and let their emotions flow.
They reflected on bringing her home at about six months and how at that time she was about the size of a full grown Great Dane. While they knew she’d get bigger, they didn’t expect 165 pounds and about 4 feet at her head.
They remembered her great disposition and how she played well with other dogs and even tolerated the cat.
They remembered when Jazz arrived and how Jazz immediately bonded with Addy.
Considering that Jazz treated Addy like a living pillow and chew toy, it was surprising that Jazz didn’t become lunch. It was always amazing how Jazz would almost prefer to lay on her than beside her. Even when Jazz was full grown Addy tolerated the impertinence. When Addy had had enough she’d simply get up and stroll away. Addy seldom ran. She really did just stroll along and sometimes loped at a slightly higher speed. The times she did run, you better have a motorized vehicle to keep up with her. Even with the size of a Great Dane it was no match for a full grown Irish Wolf Hound.
They sat that way for sometime and watched the sun get closer to the horizon. It was Jazz that broke them from their solitude. She rose and looked around as if to say, “We have unfinished business here so let’s get at it!”
They buried her that day in the position they’d found her. This was the place she liked most and it would be a reminder for them of her spirit. As they walked back to the house, three solemn creatures that had lost a friend, they heard the wolves start to howl in the distance. They had been silent lately but not tonight. Tonight, they silently mounted the hill and howled nearly in unison. Tonight, they were sending a large, kind spirit to that place where time was irrelevant, pain didn’t exist, and each day was fresh and full of special adventures.
It was as if they were saying, “Prepare yourself, a worthy spirit is on its way!”