Saying Goodbye

Oh Doc! Last week we said goodbye to our sweet, soft and silly English setter. I adopted Doc in February 2011 when he was about seven. We had a challenging first night together involving a bath, a trim of his tangled mats of fur with embedded burs, a pee parade inside the house and finally non-stop crying from the kennel that even ear plugs couldn’t drown out. I gave in after a few hours – or maybe it was just one – and let him out of the kennel. He promptly fell asleep on my love seat and snuck his way into my heart. I stuck with him and taught him some basic manners, and in return he gave me hours of companionship and joy. He even gifted me a couple of dead ducks, and once, a dead cat. We’d hike on the prairie and he’d run circles around me. On the distant horizon he was as small as a grain of rice shimmering in the sun and always on the move. Twice his prairie escapades ended in vet trips when grass seeds got lodged under his long floppy red ears and worked their way to his ear drum. Once he was picked up on the highway after making his way several miles down Coulee Creek hot on the trail of a duck. He had a one track mind with two channels: birds and me. He feigned sleep while watching me move around the room with one of his big brown eyes. I couldn’t slip anything past him. Packing a suitcase? He’s onto me. Putting on town clothes and makeup? He’s by the door ready to come along. The only time he barked was when I left him alone and then it was nonstop.

The night after Doc died, Maverick howled – a long mournful howl – in his sleep. His howl reverberated in my soul all day long. There is a huge hole in our lives now that Doc is gone. I’m grateful for the time we had together. I only wish it would last forever. 

Published by Heather Bilden

I live in Montana with my husband Bart. I enjoy working in the garden, taking care of the animals, and exploring the prairie with my dogs, my binoculars, and a reverence for the natural world.

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