A Tribute to Man’s Best Friend

Stella loving life

When your dog dies, it’s very difficult.

It hurts. And it can break your heart.

This week we lost our dear dog, Stella. She was our fourth dog, a shepherd, with us for less than a year as our yard dog guard dog.

She was just past all those challenging weeks of training and was turning out to be an excellent guard dog. And all the guys and family loved her. Then just the other day, unbeknownst to the driver, she dashed out under our dump truck in motion and ended up with a broken back. She survived the incident, but could no longer move and it was obvious she would not live. She was suffering. It was decided to put her down. She was buried on site.

Her direct reports, Dan and Carlo, were devasted, as were the rest of us as news trickled out.

I just found out today. And it hurts.

“The only absolute best friend that a man has, in this selfish world, the only one that will not betray or deny him, is his dog.”

Statement claimed to be from King Frederick of Prussia, 1789

It’s amazing how quickly and how much you can grow attached to a dog. I recall when we first moved to the country and bought a new shepherd-mix pup, we named Sheena. Within the first 3-4 months of having her, she dashed out onto the road and got hit by a car in front of our home. When I ran out to check the commotion, there she was lying on the yellow center line of the road, blood coming out of her nose, barely breathing. She was too limp to lift so I quickly grabbed a wheel barrow to lay her in. When I came back, she was gasping and it was but a few moments later that she breathed her last. We gently placed her into the wheelbarrow and called the family together. A little later we dug a grave for her out back and had a small funeral with the kids. The kids cried. And I couldn’t believe how much I cried.

During our almost 20 years of living in the country, we have had two additional dogs. Nicki and Napoleon.

Nicki was a great “mother” dog having 3 litters under our care – 9 pups with each litter… 27 dogs! We kept one, Napoleon. Nicki became a very protective mama dog and ended up biting 3 visitors over the next couple years, so we decided she better be put down before she really hurt someone.

I took her to the vet and she got the shot while in my arms. Wow, that was hard. I took her home and we buried her as family again. What a splendid dog she was. So hard to let her go. Again it hurt.

We weren’t alone though. Napoleon, the pup we kept was still with us. All of the other pups had been sold (for $75 each!).

Napoleon was a great dog; we had him for about 14 years. He was an outside dog…affectionate and yet took great care of the property – keeping animals and people at bay. He was a wonderful family dog. Two and a half years ago he died just before Christmas. We found him laying just outside our dining room window. He had had a good life, laid down through the night… and passed. And go figure, when we buried him, it rained…in the winter! The sky was sad too I guess. It was a funeral with the family, and yes, so hard to let go once again. For weeks when I would arrive home, I’d still expect to see Napoleon come running out to greet me as he always did.

Dogs do something to us. They love us almost unconditionally. They do not deny us or betray us. They need our affection but they share plenty of it in return. Maybe we can learn a little about love from our dear canine friends. Maybe that’s why God created dogs as ‘man’s best friend’.

And dogs gain a place in our hearts. So come time of separation, it hurts very much.

As so it was today with Stella. We all miss you!

Loving is risky. Loving dogs and loving people is risky. Because come time of separation, it will hurt.

But I’d rather live having loved and risk being hurt than not to have loved at all.

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