Generally, a sad day

Today we put my old Cattle Dog, Sara, to sleep. She was almost 15 and had been sick for a while.

Sara at 9 years old

Sara at 9 years old

I got Sara as a gift from a friend when I started looking for a house to buy. She was the first dog I ever had and quickly became my buddy. When I worked from home (which was most of the time for years), she slept on the office floor, between me and the door, in case I left the room.

Cattle Dogs are called Velcro dogs because they bond to one person and then follow that person everywhere. I was her person.

My son taught her to swim the summer we got her. Matthew spent a month making sure she could get in and out of the pool safely. He created a monster.

She usually started swimming by April every year. When she was younger, by mid-July, her red coat was green. She would let you spend hours throwing the ball in the pool so she could get it. Hours. She never tired of the game.

Sara was a party dog; she liked playing with children in the pool on long summer days. She would swim for 8 or 10 hours straight, only stopping when the children stopped. And then collapsing under my chair.

When she was 5, she blew one of her knees out. The options were put her down or repair the knee. We chose repairing the knee, knowing that she would be arthritic when she got old. Six months later, she blew the other one out. We had that one repaired, too. It only slowed her down a little.

When we got the orange cat, Marley, she adopted him as her best friend. She taught him how to be a good dog and was always mad when he got on the roof. Dogs don’t belong on the roof, she seemed to say, pacing and barking at him.

Being a good herding dog, she also herded children. Toddlers were great herding targets. I found her guarding a group of small children, all neatly herded up in a corner of my living room more than once. She looked very proud of herself but the children were crying.

She had a wicked dog sense of humor. I called her Laughing Dog for a reason – she would get the giggles and fall over.

In the last few years, her swimming almost completely stopped because it was too hard for her to step into the pool. Her entire back end was just not working that well. When we got the Aussie 18 months ago, she paced the side of the pool, huffing and barking, looking for the world like she was coaching as we taught him to swim.

She was diagnosed with a slow growing cancer about 4 years ago. The vet said her 5 year prognosis was not good but since her breed usually lives 12 years… We decided to do nothing and just watch. The place it would show up next was her stomach, he said. And it did.

All her life, Sara slept next to my side of the bed, in case I got up during the night. That spot will be empty now, unless the Aussie takes it.

Not the best day in my house. But I wouldn’t have missed having her for the world.

11 Responses to “Generally, a sad day”

  1. sniff.

    What a lovely eulogy for a wonderful friend.

  2. I miss her very much. I have all these empty spots. On the floor in my office, next to my bed, at my feet on the sofa, outside the bathroom door while I shower. As long as I’ve lived in this house, she’s been 3 feet away.

  3. What a touching eulogy!
    I had to put my 20-year-old cat to sleep two weeks ago. I understand. I still catch myself going to the front door to let her in when I close up the house at night. She was with me through two marriages, two divorces, and my 13-year-old daughter has known her all her life.

  4. Daniel Doornbos Says:

    You have my sincerest condolences. I’ve had dogs all my life, whenever circumstances permitted. So I can empathize with the joys they bring and the sorrow you feel when they’re gone. Dogs give a kind of unconditional love that few people can.

  5. I know how much you miss her. It has been 4 months since we put down Ginger, my golden girl. I still hear her tags jingle. The ache will ease but never go away.


  6. K.A. Brod Says:

    Gosh, Sharon, what a beautiful tribute to a wonderful companion. Through your words, I feel your loss. My thoughts and sympathies are with you. I hope Aussie, as well as those who love you most, bring you comfort and–to some degree at least–fill the emptiness left by Sara. Hugs.

  7. I’m knocked out by the responses to this post. I’ve had old friends call and say how sorry they are that she’s gone. She was a great dog that took care of her family. We miss her.

    Dog people understand why we got the Aussie 18 months ago. When we came home from the vet, we had a young dog to hug. It helps some.

    The other old dog has noticed that Sara is gone. Current Husband said she spent yesterday wandering around, looking. She can’t see much now, but the entire house still smells of Sara. It must be confusing to Lady.

  8. I’m so sorry for your loss, Sharon. I just happened on your blog while trying to find information on whether it is possible to do something in Flare or not….

  9. Michelle Wolf Says:

    Sharon, I’m so deeply sorry about your Sara. You may not remember me, I worked for a while on the cash register project with Peter at Royal. the pain of losing a beloved pet is like no other. We lost our almost 11 yr. old golden boy, Ted, in August and I still well up when I think of my sweet boy. and the year before we lost Sam, our 8 yr. old golden. So difficult. Take care and otherwise hope all is well. A very touching tribute to your beautiful devoted friend.

  10. Robin Burgoon Says:

    Sharon, I just read your blog post about Sara after reading an unrelated post from you on the HATT email digest. (I’m a few days behind.)

    I am very sorry for your loss. What a moving tribute to your faithful companion! I, too, know the feelings of losing a dear, long-lived, four-legged family member. May you always remember the good times with Sara.

  11. John E. Bunch II Says:

    I’m three years into the life of Hope Hope the Magnificent. She’s a great companion (Pitt/Lab mix) We went inner-tubing down the Chatahoochie river just last weekend. If I out-live her, it will be a hard day to let my velcro dog go. She is such a trooper, follows me into every room of the house and never lets me be alone, not even for a minute. I know you miss your friend. I hope the memories help soothe the loss.



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