This is something I wrote a few years ago after a friend lost a beloved dog. She was looking for something for her children who'd never suffered the loss of a pet. I lost this, kept trying to find it then today, decides to sit down & rewrite the danged thing.
*** Radar’s Rainbow
Radar was the best friend Nick had ever had. He’d shown up at the front gate in the spring of Nick’s fifth year. Three days in a row, Nick had looked out the front window right before breakfast just in time to see Radar come trotting down the street, stop in front of the gate & sit down. He’d sit there, looking mournfully towards the window, as though he could see Nick peeking from behind the cream lace curtains. After a week, even the neighbours were commenting on it & Mr. Grayson next door joked that the dog must have some kind of homing radar. Nick’s dad explained to him what radar was & Nick secretly began calling the tan coloured dog Radar.
He was an ordinary looking dog of medium height with floppy ears and a long, whippy tail. Every morning for the rest of the week, Nick could look out the window & see Radar sitting there patiently in the shade of the maple shrub. By the time Nick woke from his afternoon nap, Radar would be gone but as regularly as a sunrise, he’s reappear every morning. He overheard his father & mother talking about the quiet dog & knew that they’d decided if he kept appearing for just a few more days, they’d give him a home. While Radar wasn’t skin & bone, he didn’t look well fed either. Nick was pretty sure his mom fed Radar when he, Nick, wasn’t looking.
Sunday after church, Nick & his parents returned home to find Radar sitting in his usual spot under the maple. Nick’s dad crouched down & softly called: “Here boy.” The dog rose to his feet & tail gently wagging, head held down, walked up & sniffed Nick’s dad’s hand. He sat & looked at Nick, almost as if to say: “What’s YOUR name?” Nick stood as still as he could manage & held his hand out. Radar leaned over, sniffed Nick’s hand, then gave a small bark. Nick’s dad slowly stood up & opened the front gate, ushering through his wife & son & whistling for the dog to follow. After a short hesitation, Radar did. In the house, Radar headed straight for the small kitchen in the back, as though he knew exactly where it was. There, he lay quietly by the back door staring longingly at the fridge. Chuckling softly, Nick’s mom rummaged through the fridge & found some scraps of good meat for Radar. The dog ate enthusiastically but quietly, then lay again by the door, watching Nick all the time.
“A dog is a big responsibility, Nick,” his dad began solemnly. “A dog needs to be fed & his water dish kept full of fresh water every day. You must take him outside often during the day – right after you wake up, before school, after school & before bed. A dog depends on you for everything but if you look after it well, you can’t find a better friend. Do you think you’re responsible enough to look after this dog if we keep him?” Nick thought for a minute or so, then slowly nodded his head. “Your mother can’t chase after a dog now Nick”, continued his dad. She will be having a baby soon & running after a dog is not the smartest thing for her to do. Until we learn more about this dog, we’ll have to get him a leash & collar & he must always have them on when you go outside.”
And so the friendship between Nick & Radar began. Every day that summer after breakfast, Nick & Radar went out to explore the world. Oh Nick wasn’t allowed to go very far. He could walk Radar around the block & most of the remainder of the time they spent in the backyard. The house Nick & his parents lived in might be small but the yard was huge to Nick’s eyes. There was room for a large garden, a willow with a swing & several other large trees. Nick wasn’t sure what part of the yard was his favourite – the small stream that trickled through a back corner or the lilac hedge where Nick’s dad had carefully timed out branches to make a boy sized cave, floored with cool damp earth.
On the first Monday morning in September, Nick stood by the front door, a small new backpack by his feet & tears swimming in his eyes. “Nick, you’ve been wanting to start kindergarten for a long time”, said his mom, awkwardly kneeling by her son’s side. Why are you looking so sad?” Nick swallowed bravely & replied:
“Who’s going to look after Radar while I’m gone mom? Who’ll walk him & make sure his water dish is full?” Nick’s mom leaned over & gave him a reassuring hug.
“Oh Nick, you don’t think I wouldn’t look after Radar, do you? I can’t walk very fast, not with your new brother or sister coming soon, but if Radar walks slowly I can manage & keeping his water dish full is easy. And, you’ll be home every afternoon. Remember, kindergarten is only in the morning. After you come home, we can have lunch together & you can tell Radar & me about your morning at school.” Nick still wasn’t sure he should leave Radar all morning, every morning, but it would only be a few short hours. They would still have the afternoons to play & explore.
And that first year of school, that’s exactly what happened. Nick would enjoy a morning playing with friends, learning numbers & colours & spent an excited half hour or so telling his mom & Radar everything that had happened – who had fallen & scratched a leg in the playground, who had cried, who had brought special snacks to share. Radar listened just as intently as Nick’s mom did. In mid-October, Nick came home one afternoon to find his father sitting in the kitchen, talking excitedly on the phone to his grandmother. His eyes grew wide as he realized his mom had had a brand new baby sister for him while he was at school. Nick wasn’t sure how he felt about that. Some of his school friends had baby brothers & sisters & told him they were a pain. All they did was cry & poo & look dumb. Nick had Radar though & figured he could handle just about any old baby if Radar was there to be his friend.
And so it proved to be. Over the next several years, Nick’s mom had another baby – yet another sister when Nick was in fourth grade & his first sister began kindergarten herself. Both girls loved Radar, but no one could possibly love him as much as Nick did. They did everything together – when they could. Radar was almost always waiting at the front gate when Nick came home from school. He was watching when Nick wobbled off on a two - wheeled bike under his own power for the first time. He joined in when Nick’s dad taught him to swim & the two spent hours roaming the local fields, woods & when Nick got a paper route, Radar came with him every day. As Nick grew older, he spent less time with Radar. He had more work to do at school & sometimes stayed late to finish it. Some afternoons, he’d go to a friend’s house rather than come straight home & often he’d be at friends’ on weekends. Radar was a constant in his life though, always there & always ready to accompany Nick on his adventures.
Being an active, healthy, growing boy, Nick missed the subtle signs that indicated Radar was getting older at first. It wasn’t until he was 13 & just finishing his first year of high school that it struck him that Radar had some grey around his muzzle & that he walked more slowly. He took more time getting to his feet too, reminding Nick of his Grand Dad who had arthritis & always joked about being as stiff as a starched shirt. Radar had been fully grown when he chose to make his home with Nick’s family & the friendly vet at the mall had said then he looked to be 3 or 4 years old, although he couldn’t be certain. That would make him about 12 or 13 now, Nick calculated & that to him, seemed young. His mother explained that no, dogs don’t live as long. They age more quickly than people & perhaps Radar was old in a doggie way – but she couldn’t be sure.
Nick WAS sure the Sunday morning he woke up to find Radar lying stretched out by the bedroom door, unable to get up & breathing very strangely. For the first time in many years, Nick’s family didn’t go to church that morning, instead taking Radar to the veterinary clinic where the new young vet had joined the practice. Nick was as frightened as he could ever remember being. It had taken him forever to help Radar stand up & Radar had stood there shaking & shaking… Finally, Nick’s dad had lightly bundled him in an old, soft blanket & carried him to the car. It had been a short trip to the vets’ office & Nick’s mom quickly shepherded the children to the waiting room while Nick’s dad brought Radar into a room to be examined. Nick sat quietly, his own legs trembling & a lump in his throat he couldn’t seem to swallow down. The waiting was agony.
Finally, the vet opened the door & called Nick in to the examination room. Radar was lying quietly on the metal table, still on the blanket & looking a little better. He didn’t even try to stand though & that really scared Nick. He looked at the vet, unable to speak but with a dozen questions in his eyes. “Nick”, began the vet. “It’s okay, Radar is going to be fine. “ Nick closed his eyes in relief, then jerked them open when the vet went on to say: “for now. You see Nick, Radar is getting to be an old dog. I took a good look at him & did a few tests. I think he’s had a small heart attack.” Nick’s dad grasped his shoulders just as his knees sagged & hurriedly sat Nick down on the floor, urging him to keep his head down. The vet quickly walked around the table & crouched beside Nick. “Just breathe son, breathe deep. Radar is OKAY for now, I said. Let me know when you feel a bit better & we can talk about what that means. Now let me get you some water.” He stood & filling a paper cup full of water, brought it back to Nick & urged him to drink down the entire cup. Nick managed to do so but still couldn’t dislodge the lump in his throat. After several minutes he slowly stood up with his dad’s help then slowly walked to the table where his dog lay quietly. Again he looked at the vet with a silent plea.
“Let me tell you what’s happening here Nick”, the vet said quietly. “Radar is getting on in years. If he were human he’d be in his late seventies I think & that’s old for a dog. Dogs can have heart attacks too & I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happened. Now don’t worry, Radar isn’t in any pain. I gave him some medicine to keep him more comfortable & I’m going to be giving your dad a prescription to help Radar’s heart beat better.” Nick at last found his voice.
“Is there anything I can do to make it better?” he asked, stark fear in his eyes. The vet thought a moment, then nodding his head once answered.
“Yes & no, Nick. Your dad tells me you’ve taken wonderful care of Radar since he joined your family. He’s been a good friend hasn’t he?” Nick nodded through blurred eyes. “Well”, continued the vet. “Now it’s time for YOU to be his friend. Radar needs to have a quiet summer with lots of rest. He’s not going to be able to run around with you, I’m afraid. Oh he can & should still walk, but you’ll have to make them short walks & not go any faster than Radar can easily manage. He’s going to need a bit less food. He’s not fat but we don’t want him getting fat – that will just strain his heart further. He may not be able to walk up & down the stairs very easily.”
“I can carry him!” Nick blurted. “I WILL carry him – everywhere!” The vet smiled sadly then shook his head.
“No Nick, Radar needs to do some walking around – even if it’s just a bit every day. If he stops moving completely – well, it won’t do him any good.” Nick gulped hard & stuttered, trying to force out the dreadful question he HAD to ask.
“How long will Radar live?” he asked in a quavering voice. The vet looked down & the room was filled with a deep silence.
“I don’t know”, he finally answered. Sometimes animals surprise us & live much longer than you’d think they could. At other times, they die more quickly than anyone would want. I think Radar has a few months left – maybe the whole summer but even that will mean you have to take very good care of him.” Nick stiffened, then straightening his shoulders, stood stiffly & looked the vet right in the eye.
“I will!” he hissed. “Radar is going to be the best looked after dog ever. I’ll make sure he never needs anything & that he’s never alone. I’ll keep him cool when it’s hot & warm when it gets cold. I’ll make sure he takes his medicine whenever he’s supposed to & I won’t let ANYONE bother him.” He glared at the examination room door as if he could see his younger sisters right through it. “But please doctor, I need you to tell me EVERYTHING I have to do to keep radar alive.” Over his head the vet & Nick’s dad exchanged a look & quietly, Nick’s father left the room, leaving Radar, Nick & the vet alone while he explained the situation to the remainder of his family.
It was after lunch when they all returned home but no one felt like eating very much. Nick spent a few hours making Radar 2 soft beds using old blankets his mother gave him – one in HIS bedroom & one in the kitchen by the door where Radar liked to lie. He made sure Radar had food & water dishes both upstairs & downstairs & carefully read the instructions on the bottle of medicine. Later when radar was sleeping, he looked up heart attacks in dogs on the internet. He was just closing down the computer when his father looked in. Nick stood up abruptly & rushed out of the room, clattering down the stairs & bursting through the kitchen door, slammed himself down on the back step & erupted into wild, hot tears. His dad joined him & slowly eased himself down beside his son. He put his hand on Nick’s shoulder & sat silent, wisely waiting for Nick to speak if he chose. “It’s not fair, it’s just not freaking FAIR!” Nick howled, anguish in his voice & posture. “What am I going to do without radar? He’s ALWAYS been here, with me, playing & sleeping with me & lying on my bed when I’ve been sick. When my friends couldn’t play I always had Radar. And now he’s dying!” He collapsed again in a huddle of body shaking sobs. Nick’s dad waited until the storm had passed.
Slowly, carefully, he began. “It’s always really, really hard to lose a good friend like Radar, Nick. It’s even harder when you can barely remember not having them as good friends. And that’s not just people son, it’s dogs, cats, anything you love that’s living, breathing & warm, that you can hold when you’re scared & who doesn’t mind when you cry. Do you remember when Radar became part of the family?’ Nick nodded & his father slowly began to speak of when Radar first became such a big part of the family, sharing memories with Nick. Listening, Nick became calmer & after about an hour or so, he suddenly leaned over & gave his dad a quick, fierce hug. “Thanks Dad”, he whispered, his voice hoarse with young manhood & tears. I’d better go & make sure he’s all right now. I’ll be okay.” He stood & before he could re-enter the kitchen, his dad put his hand on Nicks’ leg & reminded him that he would always be happy & willing to help with Radar & he’d answer any question he could. The vet had said the same things & Nick pondered that as he slowly returned to his room & Radar.
Nick finished ninth grade 3 weeks later & quietly cancelled basketball camp & Scout camp he’d been planning to attend. Instead he spent his days seeing to his old friend, making sure his water was always cool & fresh, taking him for increasingly short walks & making sure he always had his medicine on time. He tried not to notice the increasing grey around Radar’s muzzle or the gradual weight loss so painfully clear to the rest of the family. On soft mornings, he’d carry Radar outside & they’d sit for hours by the stream or under the lilacs. Nick began skipping morning church service on Sundays & attended the late afternoon one instead. He felt easier doing that as Radar took long naps in the afternoon. He grew to prefer that service, there were fewer people & Nick liked the young minister’s sermons. They were full of simple wisdom & he encouraged the congregation to stay after service was done if they had questions. Over the summer he learned all about Radar & told Nick he was praying for him. He too told Nick to call him any time he needed help or even extra prayers. He struggled to explain death & heaven & why certain things must be so to a very frightened, grieving young man. Sometimes Nick understood, at other times he didn’t. But he listened anyway.
It was a very quiet summer for Nick. His friends called less & less as Nick was increasingly unwilling to leave his friend. Oh sure, the rest of the family adored Radar & were always willing to help, but Radar was HIS dog, HIS responsibility. The weather co-operated that year with slow, warm, sunny days & it never grew too hot. It was as if nature itself was trying to heal Radar. Nick allowed himself to feel some hope that Radar would get better, would once again be able to romp & chase sticks. He knew better, oh how bitterly he knew better but he hoped anyway. He promised himself though & repeated the promise to radar that he, Nick, would be there when the time came.
It was shortly after midnight on one warm mid-August night when something woke Nick up. Startled he sat up & automatically his eyes went to Radar. Radar was lying in his soft bed, his eyes open & looking alert. He noticed Nick awake, raised his head & whimpered softly. Nick felt something reach inside him & squeeze until everything hurt as badly as any cut or burn he’d ever had. Radar slowly lowered his head to the blanket, his tail thumping softly & his eyes never leaving Nick. Nick hurried to his friend & kneeling by his side felt for his heartbeat. It was oh so faint, steady but very faint & Nick knew this was the night Radar was going to pass on. He sat still, blank for a few moments, then drew a deep breath. Bracing himself, he stood up & quietly went to the linen closet to get a thicker blanket. His Radar was going to have something SOFT & GOOD to lie on. He returned to his room, quickly donned his clothes from the day before & carefully rolled Radar on to the blanket. He struggled to his feet, his old friend cradled to his chest & slowly crept into the hall. He’d wakened his dad though who met him in the hall & asked a silent question with his eyes. Nick looked straight into his father’s eyes, trying to say what his mouth couldn’t utter. Slowly lowering his head, his dad stepped aside & watched his son carefully carry Radar down the stairs & back to the kitchen. He heard the back door quietly open, then thud softly shut. Nick’s mother was sitting in bed & quietly Nick’s dad whispered that Nick had taken Radar outdoors, it didn’t look good. Her eyes suddenly brimming with tears, Nick’s mom went to get dressed but her husband held her back. “We have to let him do this his way, honey” he quietly explained. “We can’t do a damned thing to take away the hurt & he needs this time alone with Radar.” Softly weeping his wife nodded, then begged her husband to bring down a covering for Nick – it might get cold later. He did so then quietly returned to his room & sat by the window hand & in hand with his wife watching Nick lay on the cool grass by the stream.
Nick never heard his father bring the light blanket, never felt it settle on his shoulders. All his senses, his attention, were focused on his old friend. Radar for his part, lay quietly gazing at the stream as though he was seeing something far, far distant. Nick had heard the expression ‘heart breaking’ but had never understood what that really meant. Now, he felt as though he could not only explain it but that anyone looking at him would surely instantly grasp what that was like. He lowered his head & sobbed, heartbroken. He couldn’t bear to lose Radar, not like this. Not in any way at all. He cried until he was past tears then lay quietly, shaking & sweating with the force of the raw emotion he felt. When he heard his name being spoken he looked up, then puzzled, sat up & looked around. There was no one there, no one at all. But he heard his name again – in his head. Wildly he looked around, then looked down at Radar who had once again raised his head & was looking deep into his eyes. No it wasn’t possible… but yes it was. It was Radar who’d spoken his name.
In wonderment, he sank to his knees, then sat, his hand lightly resting on the dog’s flank. “Nick, Nick, please don’t cry. I’ll never really leave you know, not in the ways that count the most.”
“But you’re dying!” Nick wailed, you’re leaving me now & I can’t bear it.”
“Yes you can & you will”, the voice in his mind firmly stated. “That’s part of being alive, knowing that one day you will die & that along the way, your friends & family – some of them anyway – will die too. I know you’re too young to remember when your grandmother died, so I suppose this is your first death. It’s the very hardest one of all, my friend.”
“What will I do without you?” Nick asked?
“You will LIVE” the voice in his mind whispered fiercely. You’ll go to school, to college, you’ll have a family of your own some day. And you’ll love other dogs.”
Nick recoiled in horror. “No not that, never” he hissed. “I can NEVER love another dog like you.”
“No it won’t be like me”, Radar acknowledged. “Love is never the same twice. It will be different but will be just as good – only in different ways. You might not understand that now, but you will. You love your family but you love each one differently don’t you?” Nick pondered that then slowly nodded his head. “It will be something like that. You’ll see. And you’ll play basketball & become an Eagle Scout if you want, you can do anything you want & I’ll be watching & I’ll be very, very proud of you.”
“Do you have to die tonight?” Nick asked. His dog’s steady gaze was answer enough. “Where are you going?”
“You remember the story about the Rainbow Bridge?” queried Radar in his mind. “It’s true you know. I’ll be on this side of the Rainbow Bridge playing with other dogs, even some cats & waiting for you. I’ll meet other dogs you may have as friends & we’ll wait for you together. I promise.”
“That doesn’t help me feel better” Nick sobbed.
“Nick”, Radar gently nudged his mind. “I know it doesn’t. When everything hurts, it hurts. I’m an old dog Nick & my old body has been hurting me for a while. I’m very, very tired. But I will miss you as much as anything I can imagine. For I have loved you so. But not quite yet. We have some hours left, you & me, to lie here together & remember the things we did. Didn’t we have some grand adventures?” Nick nodded. “See the moon up there?” Nick looked up until he found the moon riding in the upper reaches of the sky. “When the moon sinks towards the west, when it’s beams shine across the stream – well that is when I must go for that’s my beacon, my guide to the Rainbow Bridge. But that’s a few hours away & a have a last gift for you.” Nick looked wonderingly at his old friend. “There will be times when you’re feeling especially sad, when you think you can’t bear it any longer. At those times you might see a rainbow & that will be my message to you that I’m still watching, that I still love you so very much. So now, dry your eyes – here use an edge of my blanket & talk to me. Tell me what we used to do, for my memory is fading & I’d like to think about those times once again, with you.
And that’s what they did. For the next few hours Nick softly & quietly recalled events & adventures for Radar who’d whuff in approval once in a while. Radar didn’t speak again though, as much as Nick wished he would. The moon inexorably began its downward journey towards the eastern horizon. Nick had stopped talking & was glowering at the moon, wishing he could stop it in its celestial tracks. Radar’s breathing grew quieter & his heart slowed as the night wore on. His tail gave the odd thump, as though to reassure Nick he was still very much there. Nick didn’t think anything could possibly hurt this badly – ever. Something was tearing at his insides, tearing them away in great gobs of awful feeling. It took all his effort to keep from screaming his outrage, his agony, but Radar wouldn’t like that, he knew.
Shortly before the sky lightened at dawn, Nick saw the moonbeams strike the stream & quickly make their way across to where he lay with Radar – a chain, linking his beloved friend with the moon herself. Radar gave a small sigh, then was perfectly still. Nick was unable to understand what was happening. Was this it – was it this, this… ordinary? Shouldn’t there be a monstrous storm, a hurricane wind, a shrieking gale to reflect how he felt torn apart? For Radar had passed on, his aged body now perfectly still & at peace. Nick let out a piercing shriek, raw with pain & his parents quickly came out & held him, hugging as hard as they could while the tempest stormed in his heart. He was literally sick with grief, throwing up several times until there was nothing left to get rid of. He couldn’t bear for a time to look at his old friend, but slowly calmed, out of exhaustion more than anything else. His father, eased him down to the ground, then gently straightened the old dog’s legs & covered him with a fold of the blanket.
The sun rose & the morning passed unnoticed to Nick, sitting by Radar with his mind thankfully numb & his heart drained. He cried a bit more when his dad came from the garage with a small casket he’d secretly built over the summer, gently laid in it the body of his old friend & nailed down the lid. He was oblivious to his father going over by the lilacs & digging a small grave. He sat stony faced as his mother saw to his sisters & dressed them in their nicest dresses. He looked up in wonderment when the minister he liked so much, knelt beside him, hugged him hard & said: “Nick, I’m so, so sorry.” He let his father lead him upstairs, get out some fresh clothes & start the shower for him. After he dressed & let his father lead him back outside, to the freshly dug grave. They were all there, his parents & sisters, the minister & even the vet. The vet spoke kindly of Radar & the minister had gentle words for Nick, praising the good care he’d lavished on his friend. Nick seemed to wake up when he heard the minister mention the Rainbow Bridge & in wonderment, he looked to the streamside where he’d spent the night with Radar. When it was over, he was barely able to thank the vet & minister for coming – but he managed. His mother took his sisters in & his father stood in front of him, bereft of words. He opened his hands helplessly, angry at his own inability to take on this burden for his son.
“Dad”, Nick finally said. “I think I need to walk for a bit. Is that okay? I’m really really mad at God. I HATE him for taking Radar from me.” His father nodded sorrowfully & blindly, Nick turned & left the yard. He was never quite sure where he went that long, anguished afternoon. He might have seen & spoken to people but was never sure. He must have walked miles but could not have retraced his steps if his life had depended on it. He felt hollow, ripped to bits & it hurt so badly to even THINK of Radar. He didn’t notice the wind coming up, the clouds building & didn’t quite realise it was raining until he was soaked through. He looked up startled at the black clouds & stumbling on the slick ground, made his way home. His worried parents met him at the door & his dad rushed him upstairs & out of his sodden clothing. Once Nick was dried & dressed, his dad sat him on the edge of the bed & knelt in front of him – hands on Nick’s shoulders. “I don’t know what to say, son, except I’m so very sorry. Is there anything I can do at all to help – in any way, right now?” After a long pause, Nick looked up.
“Dad, if I tell you something, you won’t think I’m crazy, will you?”
“No” his dad replied, looking puzzled & worried. He sat beside Nick on the bed & slowly haltingly, Nick told him what had happened that night. He spoke of how Radar had spoken to him in his mind, how he’d reminded him of the Rainbow Bridge & what he’d promised Nick. His dad looked both puzzled & bewondered.”
“Son”, he finally asked. If Radar told you that, how can you hate God?”
“Because Radar was lying – I know it. He was just trying to make me feel better. God is a stupid idea. God wouldn’t do something as nice as give me a rainbow when I miss Radar & when I need him. And I need him so badly right now. I miss him so badly already!” The last at the top of his lungs as choking he collapsed in tears on his bed. His father watched him sorrowfully, then helpless to ease his son’s grief, slowly stood & gazed out the window watching the rain ease up. He looked at Nick again, then looked out the window & gasped.
“Nick”, he said in a strangled voice. Come here – RIGHT NOW!” When Nick didn’t move his head from where it buried in the pillow, his dad seized his arm & snatched the weeping, bewildered boy to his feet. “LOOK” he said in a shaky voice as he pointed out the window. Nick rubbed a sleeve across his eyes & followed his dad’s pointing finger. There, just beyond the back fence, framed by a still storm - blackened sky was the biggest, clearest rainbow Nick had ever seen, an indigo dream. The 2 stood in awe as the rainbow seemed to stretch tantalisingly close to the streambed. “That’s Radar”, whispered Nick to his dad. “He wasn’t lying. God isn’t mean. Radar hasn’t really left after all!” He looked at his dad with a raw hope dawning in his eyes. “He WILL be there, in my heart & my mind & he IS thinking of me. I have to go to where we buried him & tell him I’m sorry for not believing!” Nick rushed out of his room, unhindered by his still awed father. Nick’s dad heard the door & watched his son race to the fresh grave & kneel in the mud, lovingly patting the freshly turned earth. A tremulous smile crossed his face & he turned his head from his son to the sky.
“Thank you Radar”, he whispered.
“Thank you God.”***
More of my thoughts on flu/health matters and the latest news can be found at [url= http://www.curevents.com/vb/forumdisplay.php?f=21]The Laboratory[/url].
This story touched my heart and very soul! I wept buckets! So very seldom do I read a story so magnificently written that I feel physically the pain such as that which Nick was experiencing.
I know I will come back and read this story again and again. I'm so glad I have several boxes of Kleenex because I went though tons reading this terrific story!
I was reminded of my adopted Greyhound Maiden. She was six years old when I was hooked up with her though an adoption program that rescued Greyhounds from abusive situations. Maiden had been found in a heap of Greyhounds that had been dumped off to die because the owners or track didn't want to put out the $5 a shot to euthanize them. Many in that pile were dead and Maiden was barely alive.
I won't go into any more of that as that is a different story all together. Suffice it to say, I took Maiden under my roof and showered her with so much love just like Nick did with Radar.
When Maiden was put down, I held her as she fell gently to the floor at the Vet's. It took the Vet and two Techs to gently persuade me to get off the floor beside her body where I was still holding her for the longest time, just like Nick did with Radar. I did NOT want to say good-bye.
This story has helped so much now to accept Maiden's death. I feel a cloud lifting!
Thank you so much CanadaSue for this extraordinarily well written story. I'm sure it will help others like myself to accept the grief and move on from the loss of a beloved dog ... Or even a cat, other animal or a person, too.
Still, you owe me a box of Kleenex!
<table><tr><td><img src="http://brendas-garden.4mg.com/DottieHug.jpg" align=left></td><td><br><font size="-2"><br>"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men." - St. Francis of Assisi<br><br>"The love for all living creatures is the noblest attribute of man." - Charles Darwin<br><br></td></tr></table>
I did my first dog check for Malamute Rescue. There were 2 dogs, caught by Animal Control, and that was their last day unless I said we could take them in. One was about 2 years old, beautiful black and white male with a full mask, the other a 6 month old girl, sassy and full of herself as only a 6 month pup can be.
Rescue in Texas is full to the gills. There are no foster homes, with an empty crate. The first thing I needed to do was check and see if they were Malamutes. You see, many people have trouble telling Siberian Huskys and Alaskan Malamutes apart. Unless you are very familiar with both breeds they look so alike. Best case would be if one were a Sibe -- Houston Siberian Rescue had an open foster slot. Maybe I could save both of them.
I drove up to the kennel they were kept in, introduced myself to the Tech and went to the back -- There they stood, kenneled together, woooing and dancing to see me. The girl, the one who might have been a Sibe was all Malamute, I could recognise what blood lines she was from (a known Texas breeder, just this side of a puppy mill). The boy was singing a happy song -- "I am a beautiful Mally Boy, soft and loving, take me home"
Now I had 2 dogs to evaluate for rescue. Because of the lack of foster homes, breeders who don't care once the pups are sold and people who see dogs as just another disposable item, we have to pick and choose what dogs we take into the program.
I checked out the girl -- everything seemed fine. Sound, good typy pesonality, happy.
Then I checked out the boy. Great coat, soft as silk, soft brown eyes, sound, good health.
Then the Tech told me he had nipped two of the kennel workers. My heart sank. Tears came to my eyes. You see, the biting (he never broke the skin) might only be due to being locked in a kennel for a week, being forced to go here, do that by strangers. He most likely would be able to be rehabilitated, given a loving home, good food proper exercise, and training. But we didn't have a spot for a rehab dog. How many Malamutes who didn't have any problems would have to die because we took a chance on him?
I had to make the decision to leave him behind. I held him, loved on him, told him his name was now Denali, told him about the Rainbow Bridge and told him he would get a silver harness, to be able to run in team North of the Rainbow Bridge with the other sleding dogs who have gone over there.
Told him we all would see him and the other sled dogs because we can see them running. Many people call them the Northern Lights, but it is all the Mals, Sibes, Sammies, Greenlands, Inuits, Alaskans and the other sleddogs happily running in perfect snow, doing what they love, while waiting for us. I told him good by, gave him a last scritch behind the ear, and said, "See ya later, Denali." He wagged his tail so hard he wiggled all over, and wooed a "Later!"
Today I go and pick up the girl. She will be safe in rescue until she finds the perfect forever home. This is the way rescue is supposed to work.
Tonight, I will go on the web and see what the Northern Lights look like and tell Denali --- I am sorry.
I've bumped this back to the top once again in memory of my precious Little Dog, taken from us and killed by a coyote one month ago. We got her as a little puppy 11 years ago and she was the most lovely, long-haired Chihuahua I've ever seen and I miss her terribly. Such a small little girlie has left a massive hole in my life.
I hope CanadaSue's story brings a bit of comfort to those who've lost their furkids.
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