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.
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.