Home > Dogs, Tribute > Farewell My Faithful Companion

Farewell My Faithful Companion

 

Fair warning:  I imagine there must be thousands upon thousands of overly maudlin tributes written on WordPress by owners who have lost their pets.  This post is one more for the list.  I promise to be brief (by my standards at least), but if this is not your “thing” save yourself the time and move on to another post.

 

Cute, cuddly, and fur that is oh so soft.

 

SnoBear, an American Eskimo, was born in April of 1996.  He became part of our family in June 1996.  With three children, ages 14, 11, and 6, the pressure to have a pet was constant.  We immediately fell in love with this adorable creature, a fluffy white ball of the world’s softest fur.  He resembled a little snow-white bear cub and with little discussion and debate, we decided his given name would be SnoBear.

 

A constant companion around the house, he was an incredibly loyal and faithful dog.  He had a great temperament, and seemed to enjoy letting everyone pet that fluffy fur.  Oh, that fur.  I remember the seller telling us that he really wouldn’t shed too much, maybe once a year or so.  NOT!  I would venture to guess that each week’s worth of brushing, we had enough fur to fill a shopping bag.  Over his 16 years with us, I imagine we could have woven a full sized carpet.  Still, everyone loved to touch that fur, right to the very end, and he seemed to enjoy it, no matter who offered their hand.  He was a gentle dog – not a mean bone in his body.

 

This past year, SnoBear’s body slowly began to yield to old age.  The past month was most difficult for this grand old dog.  He was in a lot of discomfort, and this past week, he would whimper most of the day, not able to get himself comfortable despite the medications we tried giving him.  His time had come, and we all prepared as best we could to ensure we gave him a most comfortable send-off.  Last night, July 5, with all my now grown children present, and my parents as well, he was surrounded and cradled very gently as he was eased into a permanent and peaceful state of slumber by our wonderfully gentle veterinarian.

 

Farewell my most faithful companion.  Echoing my son’s sentiment:  rest peacefully in the land of perpetual belly rubs.

 

 

I’ll end this with a famous tribute in oratory, given by George Graham Vest, arguing a case in Missouri about a suit stemming from a hunting dog that was shot.  He offered no evidence germane to the case, but drew instead from every metaphor in memory of the loyalty and fidelity of the dog ( link here to article):

Gentlemen of the jury, the best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter whom he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us—those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name—may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world—the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous—is his dog.

Gentlemen of the jury, a man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that had no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.

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  1. July 7, 2012 at 6:31 am

    You know, Phil, it’s hard for me to type as it is…but with these tears streaming down my eyes, I am finding it quite difficult to type forward more than backward. That last sentence took me about a minute to complete without errors (and maybe there are still some–I can’t see through the water works).

    You’re love and loss are woven all over this fitting tribute to SnoBear. I know all too well the feelings you went through: the joys and frustrations of having him as another member of your family with his own needs and gifts; the worry that comes with watching him falter as age takes its toll, the pre-grieving as you make your difficult but humane decisions, and the emptiness that comes after (where his water and feeding bowl used to be, the rituals you established over 16 years that you anticipate but don’t manifest, the eyes you;ll never looks into, and that precious fur you’ll never sink your nose into. (See? I know about losing a beloved dog.)

    If it’s any consolation, he’s in your collective hearts now–forever the spunky SnoBear you keep alive in your memories. I have it good authority from my past dogs (Humphrey, Georgia, Wolfer, and Jazzy) that SnoBear is in good company.

    My heart goes out to you and your family.

    • July 7, 2012 at 9:55 am

      Thank you for the kind words Lorna. We will all be fine as our thoughts once again migrate back to the tremendous amount of joy he brought into our lives. The thing I will miss the most was his incredible eagerness to be first to greet me at the door each and every day, no matter what kind of mood or condition he was in. That’s a record no one in my human family can match. I’m reminded of a quote that says, “If I could only be half the man my dog thinks I am…”

      • July 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

        Yes, there’s nothing quite like the greeting you get from your dog. It’s like you are the most special person in the world and, even if you’ve only been gone 5 minutes, the greeting you get is a “hero’s welcome.”

        Scrappy is training me for his eventual departure. He rarely greets me unless I really have been gone a long while. He lets me come over to him. That dog sure has the life. 😐

  2. July 7, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I lost my basset hound to lymphoma about 3 years ago and I understand your pain. We got Rosie, another basset hound about a month after Bruno passed. Sometimes it helps to get another dog right away….Peace Jaz

    • July 7, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Thank you for the kind words Jaz. My wife and I will definitely get another dog, but that is not in our immediate thoughts for the near term future. We’ve much that was put off in the way of travel and visiting these past few years because of our beloved Eskimo that we do want to do first. But for sure, we will be taking in another in the future. We love dogs way too much.

  3. July 7, 2012 at 11:21 am

    A very beautiful dog. You are lucky to have him part of your family. Here is a very inspirational film about having a dog as your pet. They are really men’s best friends 🙂

    • July 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks Dolly. I’m not sure why, but your comment was put into my Spam folder by WordPress, so I’m happy I noticed it there. I am sure the movie to which you linked the trailer will be quite moving and emotional.

  4. July 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Phil, I have been sitting on your news for about twelve hours now, scratching my head. If my bedside manners are attrocious (I will somehow manage to sit on which ever part of your body hurts most) my grave side manner is worse.

    I’ll keep simple:

    To lose a much loved dog is a wrench.

    Whilst – predictably – your G G Vest quote made me tearful (particularly the second part) I can’t help smiling at all that beautiful white hair you could have “woven into a carpet” imagining what it must have been like to return with SnoBear after a nice long walk down some countryside paths, just after the rain. Mud flying. He must have been a sight to behold. Luckily dogs are patient when you wash them down. Cats do it for themselves.

    Without wishing to go all mushy: Now that SnoBear has gone to heaven your family could think of him as one of those fluffy white clouds in the sky. Still hanging around as it were. If at a distance.

    Ursula

    • July 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm

      Ursula, while I can’t vouch for your bedside manner, I find nothing wrong with your graveside manner at all.

      With regard to that wonderful white coat of SnoBear’s, that fur was rather resistant to dirt. The coat contains oils in the fur, which repel dirt and make it impermeable. Whenever he got mud or any other matter on that coat, it would dry rather quickly and simply fall off with a quick brushing. He didn’t require lots of baths, and in fact those would have actually dried the oils on the coat if done too frequently. The key was to keep him brushed.

      As to cats – well, I’ve had the joy of trying to give an 10 pound tabby a bath over my friends house many, many years ago. The two of us wrestled away, with little success and a lot of sweat, mixed in with scratches and blood. It makes me shudder to think how powerful an 600 pound Bengal tiger might be in comparison.

  5. July 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    A wonderful tribute to Snobear. Many hugs to you

    • July 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm

      Thank you Carol. Many hugs back.

  6. July 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Hey Phil, believe it or not, more than 25 years on, I still feel pangs of pain and guilt for not giving a family pet more attention, more love, more kindness, more belly rubs than I gave him. But you won’t have that problem, you’ll only have good memories.

    • July 7, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      Earthianne, you mustn’t feel guilt now. I’m sure you treated your pet kindly. So nice of you to stop by – I haven’t seen you much lately. Not that I should be one to talk, of course. I’ve been missing in action for over a month.

  7. Red
    July 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    This is all too familiar for me. I have never bought a dog, only rescued. Most never lasted more than a few years. I had an ornery tom cat who hated everyone except me (as cats are wont to do). He had me for 16 years…from three weeks old and still nursing a bottle. Ruined me. I doubt I will do it again, but I will always have dogs.

    I lost a pair of pups in November and was not so sure about the pup Bear brought home 6 weeks ago. That apprehension went out the window when Beau decided he was not sleeping in the kennel, but instead in the children’s beds, where all children belong. *Sigh* They live for around 18 years…Here’s hoping he has at least as long a run as SnoBear and is at least half as loved.

    {HUGZ}
    Red.

    • July 8, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      Oh I’m sure Beau will be loved in your home. Sounds like he is off to a good start, sleeping in the children’s beds. Rescue dogs are likewise special, though the drawback is just what you mentioned – going through this difficult process in a shorter time frame. Still I admire you for doing that. You’ve a big heart.

  8. July 9, 2012 at 4:09 am

    Tears in my eyes… You speak for so many of us!!
    They give so very much and ask for so little… Hugs..

    • July 9, 2012 at 8:36 am

      Thank you so much for the kind words. When it comes to fidelity and loyalty, dogs offer a near perfect example to humans. You are indeed correct – they do offer so very much, and with such consistency.

      • July 9, 2012 at 8:42 am

        I can only sit and shake my head in agreement… Sometimes words don’t do justice to feelings….

  9. July 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    ~~~~Ooo, Phil,
    This was an incredibly heartbreaking post. I felt every word melt inside my bones.
    One thing is for sure, you will see your Faithful Companion, Snobear, again, dearest.
    Kay is probably rubbing his fluffy white belly this very moment.
    Love Love Love.
    Xxx

    • July 10, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Love back to you dear Kim. The though of Kay rubbing his belly warms my heart.

  10. July 10, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Oh gosh – I’m so very very sorry to hear this. Losing a beloved pet is like losing a part of oneself.

    • July 10, 2012 at 9:49 am

      So true Ladyfi. 16 years of companionship leaves a little void in the heart now that he is gone. The memories are worth it all, however.

  11. Androgoth
    July 11, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I understand perfectly of your loss Phil

    Androgoth

    • July 11, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      Thank you Androgoth.

  12. Val
    July 12, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Oh, I’m so sorry, Phil.

    • July 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Thank you Val. So good to see you around here!

  13. July 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    This made me cry. Not often I can say that, but beautifully written.

    • July 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m feeling a bit guilty of making so many cry around here. I better crack a joke or two with my next post. Thanks for visiting.

  14. WordsFallFromMyEyes
    September 29, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Oh, Phil, this is just so, so touching. And all you said about a dog staying by their owner in health or not, etc, so so true. This draws great, heavy emotion from me.

    Here in Australia, we saw photos of that dog that wouldn’t leave the coffin of his owner, a deceased soldier. That was heart wrenching.

  1. July 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

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