It has been almost a month that I had to say goodbye to my baby dog. Seamus had been with me for fifteen years but he lived to be almost seventeen and a half years old. He was a great border collie that was just a part of the family. He began his life with us as my mother’s dog.
I remember the day she called me to say that she thought she had found a dog. She wanted me to check him out so we went to the Atlanta Humane Society the next day. Seamus sat at the back of the kennel when we approached but he immediately began waging his tail and walking towards the front when he saw my mother. You could tell that he had remembered her from the day before. Needless to say, she adopted him and we took him home. She had about two years with him before we had to say goodbye to her and he began his life with me.
In his earlier years, his job was to wake me up every morning. He was faithful with that chore and insured that I did not go back to sleep. He would just sit at the side of the bed and just stare until I began to get up. If I didn’t get up, he would then begin to nose me until I was up and out of the bed. Seamus also loved to play hide and seek. He would stay put and then I would go and hide. I would call his name and then the game would begin. He would seek me and eventually find me. What amazed me about him, was he would always check the previous place you would have hidden. He would play that game for hours.
As he matured and slowed down, he would still sit with me and watch the world go by. The cats that we had, slowly began to watch over him and keep him company. Toward the end Boodle, one of our newer cats, would be constantly at his side when he was out. Boodle would make sure that Seamus was safe and sound.
Now that he is gone. I still go around the house from time to time expecting to see him. Leon our current oldest cat also is missing him. Leon will walk the house crying looking for company. He always had his friend around to sleep with if we were not there. Leon on occasion has taken it upon himself to sleep in Seamus’s bed. I will miss you old friend and even though I will eventually get another border collie to fill up the empty place in my heart. There will always be a place in my heart for you.
Several years ago, I wrote a song for Seamus when I thought we were going to have to put him down. Luckily for me, Seamus lived five years longer. Below is the video that I created using the song that I wrote.
There comes a time in each of our lives that we have to recognize that it is time to let go of something. For me the hardest thing to let go are my animals. I have had two border collies in my life and both lived to be pretty old. My first collie, Spice, lived to be about 13 years old. Before she died she was blind and getting hard of hearing. She suffered from cancer but I had a hard time letting go of her. I knew in the end, that it was the humane thing to do but nevertheless a hard thing to do.
My current border collie is seventeen years old. He has suffered from kidney disease for the past four years. Over the last few years he has declined. He has lost a lot of weight and has begun to get very senile. He often doesn’t remember where he is and will start barking. He is in decline and again, I’m struggling with letting go. How can you just say goodbye to something that has been a part of your life for so long? I know that death is a part of life but for me the decision with an animal is hard. They can’t tell you what is wrong or if they are just going through the motions. I think Seamus’s time is coming and I must learn to let go. It doesn’t mean that I love him less but it is merciful to say goodbye when all he does is sleep and acts confused.
I just ask for strength and the love God has given me to finally let him go. How have you let go of something you held dear to you?
When my dog, Seamus, was young he would gently guide the various cats we had around. He would let the first cat he ever knew, Mistletoe even sleep with him. He has always been surrounded by cats but in the last few months he has had three cats in his life.
As he has gotten rather old and senile, the cats have taken to herding him and watching over him. He can’t tell when he goes out (in a fenced in yard) that it is time to come in. Often, he will stand at the back door wanting in but even when you open the door he doesn’t have a sense that it is open. Only his cat friends are there to let him know that it is time to come in. They will cut in front of him, nuzzle their face into his face and at times walk under him to get his attention.
This role reversal reminds me of people and especially leaders. At times, we need to know when to follow and when to lead. Just because you are a leader either by position or by your talent there are times that you don’t know where to go or have the skills or knowledge to lead the way. You must be humble enough to know when to lead and when to follow and not let your ego get in the way. It’s amazing to me that by watching animals interact we can learn a little on how we should act. The next time I am leading, I hope I take the time and self-reflection to look around and realize that I might not be the person at the time to lead. I also hope, that in reverse, that if I’m following and I do have the belief that I can better lead than the person that is that I have the strength to step out in lead.
This week I went out to my car to go home and realized that my parking brake had broken. My car is quickly approaching 200,000 miles and parts for my car are no longer being made. Lucky for me I have a great mechanic who was able to find a used part in the junk yard. I must to begin to think that I might have to find another car in the next few years.
The Fall is a time that I have learned that I must learn to let go. I have had to say goodbye to many family members during the Fall. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Fall. Football, cooler weather, hunting and all of the holidays are what I love most about the Fall. As I get older, I realize that nothing is forever (except my life with Jesus). However, living things and a variety of material things all wear out over time. I have written quite often about my dog getting older. Senility has really set in and he can be very frustrating at times. While I will have to let him go in the future, I am trying my best to appreciate the time I have with him. What have you learned to let go?
I have never really dealt with senility. My grandmother was inflicted with Alzheimer’s disease but I did not really deal with her. My latest experience is with my dear sixteen year old dog. He has begun exhibiting behavior over the last six months. He wonders around at night and since he is also starting to lose his eyesight he bumps into things. I knew he couldn’t see to well but I didn’t realize the extent he was leaving his mark. His nose as he bumps into the walls at night are leaving black marks. All of our walls are marked up with the black marks of his nose.
He doesn’t hear that well either and so trying to get him in from outside is a challenge. In the dark, it is not so bad. I can flip the outside light on and off (kind of like the disco era) and this will get his attention. If it is day light, he can hear a high whistle but can not decide where the noise is originating from. Although we get frustrated with him, how can you stay mad when it is just a part of life. We all get older and have afflictions that we have to deal with it. The alternative is not having him around and to me that would be much sadder. I know the day is closer today than yesterday that I will be loosing my companion. As long as he is not suffering, I plan on having him around as long as the good Lord is willing.