"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another departure for heaven: our "Sandy"

Our beloved canine "Sandy" died on what would have been my father Ralph's 97th birthday.
"You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that.' "
- Dave Barry
Wednesday, June 19, would have been my father Ralph's 97th birthday. How he would enjoy sitting outside on our front portico, even if our spring and summer weather turned out not as pleasant as hoped. Indeed it has been less than pleasant. The wind seems to have been our constant companion.
First we waited impatiently for spring. It arrived grudgingly. Surely summer would splash all over us, right? I'm thinking of "splash" in a figurative sense. Really we've been splashed upon by precipitation. Buckets have cascaded down. We have been designated for flash floods. The Thursday night wind was a terror.
A sad coincidence marked my father's date of birth for 2013. His pride and joy "Sandy," our canine family member, died on that day. Sandy would have been 17 years old on July 1. For a long time we felt confident he'd make it. Our previous dog "Heidi," a Lhasa Apso, lived to about 16 1/2.
Sandy was surprisingly resilient. He was a larger dog than Heidi and he had some health issues when younger. We have always heard that the smaller dogs have the best chance for a maximum lifespan. Sandy and Heidi failed in ways that were similar at the end. The body begins to shut down.
We like to think when the dogs are younger that this will never happen. We like to imagine them living to a very ripe old age and being happy and content until the very end. That is just not going to happen. We nurture them for as long as we can. Certainly they have nurtured us with their presence.
I feel an emptiness now just as big as when my father Ralph passed away. It's no mere cliche that "dogs are members of the family."
I buried Sandy on our property and put together a little cross using sticks and string. In the aftermath of the Thursday night storm, with the ravages all around me, my first order of business was to make sure that cross was present and erect.
Yes, Sandy was just an "animal," thus the cross might be misplaced, but his master Ralph was a Christian. I hope the presence of the cross ensures a speedy reunion in heaven between my father and Sandy. Their struggles are over now. "They're in a better place."
That humble makeshift cross is just as moving to me as any stone memorial that might be peddled by a local business at an inflated price.
The grave and the stone don't really matter. The soul is departed. At the risk of sounding radical, I'm skeptical even about the idea of a formal funeral. With us humans living longer all the time due to advances in medical science, by the time we die there are few of our contemporaries still around. A small private service could be held with primarily family.
Let me add that thousands of dollars could be saved, in case that's important to you. If this kind of expense is called for, I'd rather send the money to the designated memorials. The deceased's soul has departed.
I feel grief about Sandy's death that is quite comparable to when Dad died.
Let me tell you a little about Sandy. He was an "Eskipoo" although this is not considered an official breed. It's a popular mix of poodle and American Eskimo dog. Sometimes it's spelled "eskapoo" or with a hyphen as "eski-poo." There's an alternative name too: "pookimo."
Sandy had a history of eye problems and seemed mostly blind for much of his life. Oh, but he was happy. Thanks to the Internet I was able to research and find out that "eye infections are the most common health issue" for this dog.
I'm wondering if ours was a 100 per cent Eskipoo because he was heavier than the normal, the normal being 13-20 pounds.
I learn that the Eskipoo is "ideal for those with allergies, as they can grow long hair and do not shed." They have fluffy hair. They are known as "smart, loyal and sweet dogs."
They have a sociable disposition which our dog showed with his fondness for our long-time neighbor, Les Lindor. Les would often visit our house Friday night for pancakes and sausages. Sandy always picked up hints that Les would be coming over soon. He'd bark with great anticipation. Les reported he could hear this as soon as he set foot outside his house.
These are priceless memories.
Sandy got to an age where the only thing that would make him run would be for me to say "let's go see Les." Les might be sitting in front of his garage, or bringing in his waste container, or just out in his yard. This kind of neighborhood friendliness should set an example for everyone.
Les preceded my father into heaven. Now "all three" are there, beyond their worldly limitations and in God's care.
We greatly appreciate the Morris Veterinary Center for their very caring and capable touch. They are there for you for the good and the sad.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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