Our beloved family dog – Ada – passed away peacefully and in the comfort of our home, surrounded by loving family, in the evening of Sunday, May 7, 2023. As we were holding her in the end, we could feel the warmth of the spring sun coming through the windows and saw what looked like a content smile on her face.
She was a beautiful dog. Born on June 23, 2011, she joined our family as a very young puppy. Over the years she turned into a mature dog, over seventy pounds of happy, energetic German Shepherd. I knew her most of her life and during that time she became a loyal friend and companion to me and an important member of our family. She was the kindest and most affectionate of dogs I have ever known.
Besides walks around the neighborhood and trips to the dog park, she enjoyed resting in the office or downstairs around the entryway during the day. She responded to the door bell or seemingly suspicious noises reliably and early on made it her duty to caution strangers against unbidden entry.
But it was outside, in the mountains, lakes and streams of the beautiful Pacific Northwest that Ada came alive like nowhere else. As soon as we would be preparing our gear, she sensed that new adventure awaited. Her excitement would grow, when we loaded up the car and once we were on the road, she would remain sitting (usually next to a pile of boots and a pack), staring intently out the back window. Once out on the trails, Ada truly was in her element. We shared the struggle, joy and appreciation of the Cascades like we shared water and food breaks. I could never have asked for a better companion out there.
In recent years, her face turned grey and white and she slowed down a little. Her love for the mountains never diminished, of course, but she seemed less urgent about it all. Over the years, our daughter started bringing a lot of energy to the household and we even brought in a second puppy a few years ago. Ada enjoyed observing as much as getting all the attention.
There are so many stories, so many memories we made over the years, so much joy that we shared.
To take a dog into your life is to accept a duty. They depend on you for their needs and you need to take care of them. Your dog needs walks and food, shelter, protection and medical care, cleaning and grooming — and of course training, play and stimulation appropriate for them. Like anything that you take seriously, this can all seem like a lot. Less a duty and more of an obligation, a chore, perhaps even a hassle, at times. Right? Because there are other things in your life, places to go, schedules to follow. Perhaps you find yourself thinking “oh, I have to walk the dog …” and maybe sometimes you are adjusting your route, depending on how little time you think you have.
Your dog is also taking care of you. That walk may be something that needs to be done, but it is also a gift. It is not just necessary, but also what you get to do, though you may not always appreciate it well for what it is — or what it could be. They can teach you, if you are willing to learn. That has been my experience.
With the pain of my loss still raw for me, all I want is one more day of walking together, holding my friend.
She gave of herself freely and generously, while she was alive. Her parting gift, finally: Grief. A devastating reminder of how much we had and how much we lost, together. With that, I can begin to see and perhaps understand a little more clearly.
Thank you Ada, old friend. Farewell.