“Goodbye, sweet girl — it’s time to go,” I said looking into those eyes that showed love, devotion and friendship. My eyes and those of son, Ben, overflowed with tears.
We were taking our beloved sheltie, Lorna Doone, to the vet. This was her last ride.
Weak and failing, she couldn’t jump into the SUV anymore. Gone were the days when that graceful blur of brown, black and white fur bounded into the back seat with ease. On this day, I gently placed her in the seat next to my son.
Lorna Doone loved to ride in cars. She’d bark and bark when we asked, “Do you want to go for a ride?”
Once in the car, I’d quickly roll down the window so she could stick her head out and take in the fast-flowing air.
My family enjoyed 17 wonderful years with Dooney. She retrieved tennis balls, Frisbees, hedge apples — about anything round she could fit into her mouth. Our sweet girl never knew when to stop fetching and only when we ceased throwing would this wonderful game end.
When the small walnuts dropped from our giant walnut trees, Lorna heard them hit the ground, smelled them out and brought these little marble-sized nuts to us. She expected us to play fetch with them.
She loved to chase squirrels in our yard and kept these little rodents running for their lives. As they scolded her from high above in the trees, she barked her disapproval of them trespassing in her domain.
Lorna smiled all the time. We referred to her as the happiest dog in the world. When she wagged her tail her whole rear end moved.
Our sheltie served as a constant companion throughout my son’s childhood. Having arrived in our household a full year before Ben, she always tried to dominate her younger sibling even when he grew to be a teenager and towered above her.
Dooney bossed Ben and growled at him whenever she believed he interfered with her playful activities.
She assumed the role of scout that trotted out front when the boys explored the woods surrounding our house. Like a horse, she pulled the small wagon filled with Ben’s toys.
Lorna also barked incessantly when it was time for her to eat. With a built-in clock that rivaled any Rolex, she knew to the minute when it was time to eat. She also stood next to the utility room where her feast awaited.
Without a doubt. Nothing wandered into our yard and evaded the notice of Miss Doone. She patrolled day and night with razor-sharp eyes. Even when she slept, her super-sonic ears missed nothing. They pointed straight up as did her tail that curled to the right. Her look said, “Enter at your own risk.”
How do these four-legged fur balls burrow so deep in our hearts?
It hurts when they go. But when you ask yourself, “Would I give up having known them to make the pain go away?”
The answer remains, of course, “no.”
A dog like Lorna Doone only comes around once in a lifetime. That said, Miss Bea, our new sheltie, appears to be a worthy companion. Just like her predecessor, she tears up the leaves and yard ensuring her territory remains off limits to squirrels and other rodents.
Bea also announces the arrival of friends, family, UPS delivery and anything else who ventures near her home. While she’s a bit stand-offish at times, she’s still a happy girl and we’re happy to have her in our lives.
As for Lorna Doone, her memory lingers in our minds. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see her again, listen to the thump, thump, thump of her tail and look into that smiling, happy face.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwest Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.