The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Letter to My Dog

Denying to myself that I would ever lose him, I wrote this letter to Price 4 years ago.

A letter to my dog

I've been feeling the weight of my dog lately like a fine, wool blanket; warm, treasured, familiar, comforting. Addressing this, Dear Dog, just seems goofy, so I’m writing a thank you note to him for helping me craft another life when the last one collapsed under me like a Rocky Mountain avalanche.

With love for me, no holds barred, you have survived my ignorance, wrongful punishment, misplaced anger, bad timing, crazy ideas, long road trips, cheap food and hard beds. How did we find each other? What are the chances?

My dog should run, not walk away from me. I have put him in tight spots. He once almost drowned at a motel parking lot when I left him outside over night in a winter torrent. Drain holes in the truck bed plugged and frigid water pooled inside the dog box. By morning, he looked like a wet cat that someone failed to murder. My dog just wanted to pee and get to work.

I remember details from the first time I saw you. It was exhilarating like when I saw my second ex-husband for the first time. I felt euphoric with butterflies. I desired him. I had a visceral reaction to you too, but my instincts were better. You are a good man all the time.

My dog is the window that God opened after slamming an iron door on my tightly clinched fist. He is a wooden casement window that makes that shushing sound when the weights descend to raise the pane. On our first day together, I left him alone on the side of the house in a kennel. He stood scared, staring at the door, exactly how I found him 12 hours later. Immediately recognizing my selfishness, we spent a glorious day getting to know each other.

God opened more windows, light filtered in and we began to lengthen our stride. You tried so hard to please me. I bullied, you tried harder. I have no words to express the emotions that ripped through me both times you almost died. The snake bite was the worst and all 5 days you spent in wretched agony at death's door were devastating to us both. 2 years later when you lost a lung lobe to infection, I never realized the extent of it until I saw the 9 inch incision running down from your withers. You are the bravest creature I have ever known.

Six weeks after the snake bite my dog found success at 2 of the toughest sheepdog trials in North America, The Meeker Championship and the National Finals. 2 years later, with an e-collar around his neck, a gash the length of his rib-cage, and a fentanyl patch taped to one leg, I lowered him from my truck a day after surgery that spread his ribs to remove part of his lung. Crouching, he turned to walk up on sheep in a nearby pen. "That'll do, big dog." At 7 years old, and just that quick, his career was over.

I see age creeping into the frame just now. I know you're still strong and so athletic. Your instincts remain razor sharp and still there's massive presence in your eye. I don't know how I’ll let you go when the time comes. I expect that you will help me with that. But not today, funny boy. Today we have work to do.


  1. There is so much love and also self-awareness in this post, Amelia. It's making me tear up.