Sun Tzu's Story

Trusted Companion

Today my companion of 10 years passed on from this life. He hadn’t been feeling good for a while and I could see in his eyes that he was tired… dog tired. Dogs sleep a lot anyway and German Shepherds are no exception. I was always amazed at how they could spend so much time lying around on the many dog beds we had acquired.

But when it was time to go out and play, man that dog could run. He was fast like lightening and could pretty well outrun any other dog around. He loved to go to the river and swim. As many times as I would throw the ball out, he would gleefully dive in, retrieve it, and then swim back, chewing it like a pack of gum. Then he would jump onto the sand and drop the ball at my foot for another foray. Over and over, again and again, he never seemed to tire of it.

When the river was too far or flooded, there was always the hose in the backyard. He would chase the stream of water around and around until he literally dropped from exhaustion. I guess after all of that he had plenty of time to lounge around and sleep it off. I kind of wonder at the life of a dog. For the ones who are well taken care of – that’s a great life; play, sleep, eat, drink some water, throw up… what more could you ask for.

We fed him special food, special treats, special love, hugs, kisses, comfortable beds, an air conditioned home. All he had to do was watch over it all. And he did that. Any slightest step even on the street outside of the house, he was on it, barking like he owned it all and you better not traverse any closer. One day he accidentally got out and would have given the mailman a row* if I hadn’t intervened and got him back in the house.

Stubborn and particular were his traits. He could go for days without eating food if he didn’t like it. There was no waiting him out, he would just not eat. So to say he was spoiled. We took him through basic and advanced training but he was the most stubborn dog I have ever seen. If he was lying down and you told him to come and he didn’t want to, he would just look at you like you were crazy to ask such a thing. It wasn’t that he was lazy, couldn’t do it, or didn’t understand. He knew. If you put a leash on him or something he would step-to immediately. He knew what he was supposed to do – he was just stubborn.

Overall though, he was a great companion. He had to be wherever we were. If I got up to walk into the kitchen, he got up and followed. Wherever we went, he was right there. When I was working at my desk, he would sit and lean against me or rest his head on my leg waiting for the inevitable head scratch. He just couldn’t seem to get close enough.

The last month or so though, he just kind of laid around looking sad. I don’t know if he knew he was getting ready to leave or if he just didn’t feel good. But I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. Sometimes I would look over and see him with his head resting on the floor looking up at me. When I called to him, he just stared at me as if he was too tired to come over to be close or get a scratch.

“What’s the matter boy? You don’t feel good do you...”

He just looked at me but he never whined, never complained. Towards the end, sometimes I would sit on the floor by his bed and he would put his head in my lap. I’m glad I took time to do that. Head on my leg, his eyes would grow heavy and close as he fell asleep to dream of younger days. It was a comfort to both of us.

It was a stormy day on Thursday, July 30th 2020. He was really afraid of storms and would just shake all over and this was no exception. The rain broke about noon, but he wouldn’t eat or get up. When he did get up he could barely walk. A few hours later he peed in his bed, something he had never done and we knew it was time to take him to the vet. He always loved to get in the car and go for a ride. In fact, it was sometimes rather difficult to get him out of the car once we reached our destination if the drive was too short. Now he could barely walk to the car and we had to use a ramp for him to get up. We couldn’t lift him at 100 lbs.

It was a short ride to the vet but by the time we got there, he could barely move and simply slid down the ramp. Several doctors came running out and carried him into the office and gently laid him in one of the exam rooms where he quickly and quietly passed away from us.

It’s a tough experience to go through. I don’t think I hurt this badly even when my mom and dad passed away - and that was rough. But then again, there’s no way we, as people, can be companions like a dog can be a companion. We spend ten or more years in almost constant contact with them and then, all too soon, it’s over. And so we mourn and hope there is a place in heaven for them too - where one day, we might meet again.


God is patient and kind, not willing that any should perish.” 1Peter 3.9

Silent Departure

My tears like rain are falling down

within my heart the thunder sounds

and lightnings flash within my mind

reminding of another time.

I looked at you but didn't see

your desperation or degree

of suffering and agony

silence in your destiny.

I didn't know you'd soon be gone

to frolic in another song

it caught me by surprise and so

I weep, my bitter tears still flow.

Just want to touch again your face

your sable coat - and embrace

to comfort you as you depart

Alas, you're gone and we're apart.

* "row" as in a good fight. Row also means a noisy argument, but when you use it this way, it rhymes with cow, rather than toe. (Google definition)

© copyright 2021 h mark taylor

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