March is my dog, Splatter’s, birthday month. Were he still alive, he would be turning 16 now. The month was always special for us. I didn’t know which day he was actually born on so, for the 15years he stood by my side, he and I celebrated each day in the month. I sang “Happy Birthday” to him every morning and, every day he got something special. So, now that he’s gone, the month of March is bittersweet for me and I’d like to take the opportunity to share with you a story about him illustrating why he was and is so very special and so very loved.
He was born in the High Desert of Central Oregon. I adopted him when he was just a puppy from the Humane Society of Central Oregon. When he was old enough, we walked, every morning, to Big Sky Park which was about 2.5 miles from our home. For those of you who live in Bend, Oregon, this was before they built the enclosed dog park there. Once at the park, we would walk with other friends and their dogs (mostly Lilly and Casey) through the attached BLM, letting the dogs run at will.
But this story takes place in the winter when Splatter was close to 1 year old. It was cold and icy out. I put on my down jacket and ski pants to stay warm on our walk. As we neared the park, we took a shortcut through one of the neighborhoods and, suddenly, I slipped on some jagged ice and fell to my knees. I dropped Splat’s lead, but he stayed at my side. When I got to a seated position, I checked my pants for tears. One knee had a slight tear but the other was intact. Assuming, I was just bruised, I decided to check to be sure. I was wrong. The jagged ice had somehow torn the flesh on both knees without tearing the pants. The wounds were bad – one wound encircled almost the top of my entire knee. The other was a half moon, deep and painful. When Splatter saw my injuries, he leaned forward and licked them, as if he could make it all better.
Luckily, as I said, it was very cold and the blood coagulated quickly. I didn’t have a phone on me (I had a cell but I rarely carried it with me) and I didn’t know anyone who lived nearby. My only option was to walk the two miles home. Now, at this time, Splatter was big – probably weighed 70 pounds and, though he had had some obedience training, he was far from perfect. I knew that, with my injuries, if he pulled, I wouldn’t be able to control him and I might fall and injure myself worse and lose him in the process. So, as I gingerly got to my feet, I said to him, “We’re going home and Mom is hurt bad. If we’re going to make it okay, you’re going to have to be very, very good. You stay at my side in heel position, no matter what happens.”
And, that he did. We slowly made our way home and he never left my side – never pulled – never was distracted. He walked beside me and was my anchor until we got home. I’d always thought he was special, but that day, I knew our bond was stronger than any I’d ever known before.
He remained at my side until the first day of Summer, 2017, when he died unexpectedly. I miss him every day; I cry for him every day; and I think I will cry for him until the day I leave this earth. He was my love, my light, my angel and my anchor. When things seemed darkest, he was always there bringing me light. I miss you, My Little Guy.
Please note: The pictures displayed here were taken in Big Sky Park, albeit not in winter!