The Emptiest Collar

I have heard the parents who have more than one child say that they love them all equally and believe that 100%. Even though Nora and I have only one child, I think we can relate strongly via the dogs we have had and currently have. I know I have loved all equally, even though each dog has had their own personality. Because of the different personality traits of each dog, my interactions and relationship has been different with each one. Through my relationship with Huck, I feel that I had grown closest to him than any of the other dogs. Not long after we brought him home, he could be found next to me much of the time. The past several years that became even more heightened. If we were in the same building, then he is at my feet or by my side. He slept with me when we had enough space on the bed, lays with me on the couch no matter what I am doing and will follow me to my next location.

It’s a close race though. If the distance of the race were a thousand miles, then Burt would have been 1/8th of an inch behind Huck at the finish line. The two of them were very similar in their personality traits and mannerism.

I have the unfortunate news to share that this past Wednesday, May 5th, Huck passed away. Over the past 4-5 months, physical exertion would cause him to get out of breath and many times, he would struggle to catch his breath. It was never serious enough to cause him any pain and in the course of a minute or two, he would be breathing naturally. Then last Saturday, Nora was taking him for a walk, but they did not make it much past the end of the driveway and stopped. Nora said he was wheezing, much like someone does when they are having an asthma attack. They came into the house and he was still wheezing and it took around 5 minutes for him to regain regular breathing. So no more walks was the new thing going forward. This past Wednesday, he jumped down off the recliner to have his breakfast and another episode hit. This one lasted for around 20 minutes and included foaming at the mouth, blue tongue and the loss of bodily functions. Both Nora and I though that this was the end and Grace, Nora and I all sat next to him, petting him and saying sweet things to him. He did regain regular breathing again, but it had been decided that he should not have to go through another episode like that. He was a very tough dog and had never cried or complained about any pain, including knee surgery and taking a bunch of porcupine quills to the face, several going into his eye membrane. He did not cry of fuss with the episodes he had, but the one I was present for, his eyes had a look of fear in them. That was the first time I had ever seen him express fear and knew that it was serious. So we called the vet and were able to get him in to be put down. He handled that very well, including kissing both the vet tech and the doctor as the kneeled down to administer the tranquillizer and then the drug that stops the heart.

I am so proud of Grace. This is the third loss of a dog that she has had to deal with in just over a year and was there to see all of them take their last breath. One by natural causes and two through euthanasia. I have serious doubts that I could have gone through any of them. She and Huck were close their whole lives. Huck and Millie were around 8 months old when Gracie joined the Dee household. They both immediately took to her and loved her like one of their own. I will be producing a special tribute to Huck. I had hoped to have it done along with this entry, but it was taking a LOT of time, so I decided to write the journal and get the tribute done early this week. I do have some pics to share though. As mentioned, Huck and Grace were a special pair. He took on the task of making she she was always safe and handled anything she did to him, including grabbing the end of his nose, squeezing it and turning it when she was just a year old.

As she got older, they spent countless hours with Grace laying down, head on his stomach, reading a book. The things he had to put up with were less physically challenging and painful! but did require patience and understanding and could be humiliating. He always took it all in stride. Like just about all dogs, he loved to have physical contact with all of us, but Gracie was the perfect size and most agile to be able to drop down next to him and give him a hug. To which he would respond with a thank you kiss.

I still have not come completely to terms with the fact that he is no longer with us. With all the other dogs losses, I was able to do my grieving immediately after their death and within a few days was back to normal. I feel like my mind will not allow me to enter into that zone of full grief, like it might be too much for me to handle. Rather I am going through periods of less intense grief, but I still know I have not fully come to terms with it and released all of my sadness inside. I am fully confident that I will be able to, just that this time things are different, very different. It has been difficult for me to think of him for the past 4 days. It almost always brings a tear to my eyes and a lump in my throat. His soul with just so beautiful and his tail would wag at anything and anyone. Nora sent me a number of pictures for this entry, including this next one. To me it looks like heaven is calling to him, showing him the way where he will find Millie, Dune, Uncle Eddie and the grandpa he never got the chance to meet here in this world.

There were some other events that took place this week. Despite the fact that Gracie had to say goodbye to her great friend, she still toughed it out and partook in the Calumet Middle School band concert. This was her first band concert and mine too. She looked so cute in her outfit for the concert. It is amazing how fast she is growing and looking more and more like a young woman. She plays the flute, like her mom did in school, but has only played since the start of school and sounds like she has been playing for years. The concert consisted of 4 parts. Each grade, 6, 7 and 8, performed several songs and then they all came together and were joined by the high school band for a grand finale. It was quite the powerful and moving moment to hear all of those kids play. Thundering, very impressive and I cannot wait for the next one!

On Friday I had to travel to Appleton Wisconsin for an appointment. On my way down, I had to travel through quite a few vigorous snow squalls. I did take a few shots, including one with the ground and trees covered, but somehow I did something that made them disappear from my phone! The snows fell from just south of L’Anse to around Florence WI and was heaviest on the “Amasa Stretch”, which runs from Covington Junction to Crystal Falls. 

Yesterday we were all in the den and all of a sudden, a hawk flew down and looked like it was trying to attack a raven that was in the backyard. I am one to just let nature do what nature is doing, but I have to admit, I did not want to see the raven get killed! They may not be the best looking bird, but they are incredibly smart and one can even make friends with them if they work at it. A raven will also never forget their human friend either! A few seconds after the hawk flew in and caused the raven to take flight, they both were both on the ground and the hawk showed no signs of wanting to go after the raven. In fact, one time when the hawk got to close, the raven turned and caused the hawk to jump a few feet backwards. Not long after that, the hawk flew up and perched itself on top of an old steel pipe that is stuck in the ground for some reason. The two of them then just looked around for something to eat and eventually flew off at different times.

Last night was the first Jacobsville bonfire of the season! Temps were around 40 degrees, but the stiff and chilly wind had died off and as long as one was dressed properly, you could keep warm by the fire. It’s funny, I obviously cannot see what I looked like while sitting by the fire, but when I saw this picture, I could not help by think I looked like Bernie Sanders in that shot from the inauguration that became the source for lots of spoof pictures this winter, just from a different angle!

So I guess that covers it. I will be putting that tribute to Huck together and will post it either tomorrow or Tuesday. Next week I will write a new entry, but will not be writing on the 23rd as Nora and I will be traveling to Rochester for my appointments at Mayo that week.

Good Night from the Keweenaw..