Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Missing Sarge

A year ago today we put our beloved 14 year old Collie in the car and drove to that dreaded appointment. I had spent the day tending him and telling him how loved he was. He could not get up unless I put him on his feet, but then was unable to get back down. He had been in this condition all weekend after suffering a stroke. The other animals were subdued, keeping the death watch.

I didn't have many pets as a child. The constant moving was a factor and my mother wasn't as forgiving of puddles in the floor as I am. Love of my life is a pet lover, too. I can't remember any time during our life together that we haven't had pets. We made the move from Tampa to Minnesota with only one cat. Misty was already an old lady and not used to living indoors, so we let her come and go at will with the garage door open just enough for her. One day she left and never came back. So the search was on. I couldn't be without four-legged companionship. I scanned the pet section of the newspaper.

We drove and drove, headed for a farm in Menomonie, WI. We finally arrived and were led into a barn where bales of hay contained three litters of these amazing bundles of fur. All Collies. The parents -- one male and his harem of three wives -- were right there to see. One of the mom dogs stayed by my side and kept slipping her head under my hand for a pat. While the kids and husband were scooping up one then another puppy to check the gender I told the farmer that I wanted one of the dog at my side's pups. I had a little male in my hand at that moment and he told me that I had already chosen one of hers.

We paid the man and left with our bundle of fur. He was scared and spent the ride back to civilization burrowed in my daughter, Adrienne's hair. We talked about names and finally settled on Sargent Pepper. Three year old Danny wanted Pepper. Might have fit one of the black and white border Collies, but our puppy was sable and white; a Lassie look alike. Adrienne finally convinced Danny that we should add the Sargent to the name. Big brother, Jeff, was in a Beatles faze and had recently purchased that CD and we were all sick of hearing it.

Sarge was my dog from the very beginning. I was the one who fed and cared for him, after all. He was extremely easy to train and was very protective of his family. He slept at the foot of Danny's bed until we bought the bunk beds and then he claimed the lower bunk as his own. He welcomed each new arrival to our pet kingdom graciously. He even acknowledged that Oscar was the alpha male and let him lead the pack.

Sarge loved the campground and the freedom it provided him. He was leash trained, but didn't really need one. He obeyed commands and we let him roam the property when the campground wasn't busy. He would walk with me and if the rambunctious Louise broke through the fence he would help herd the others in. His favorite spot was the side yard close to my vegetable garden. He would lay in the shade of the maple tree while I tended the garden. He was the first to make friends with the cat that was left here and they would lay close to each other in easy companionship. He would greet anyone approaching me and was okay as long as they didn't get close enough to touch me. He would warn, then bite if you bothered me.

Sarge did not like water. He wouldn't go into the lake at our cabin. He would board the pontoon boat and go for a ride, but would remain standing, looking at the water, alert for any invasion. But he loved the jet ski! He would stand at the end of the dock and bark and whine until you came back and let him climb on. He would sit in front of me causing me to have to contort my body to see around him. The faster, the better he would bite at the wind, making it look like he was laughing gleefully. I have a wonderful picture of him on the jet ski with Drew. It is framed and mounted on the wall above the container of his ashes and his old leather collar. No pictures of my old boy on this computer and the desk top has crashed so many times that I can't find anything on it.

Sarge was the image you have in your head when you hear the word Collie. He was very handsome. I would buzz Louise (our St. Bernard) every Spring to rid her of her heavy winter coat. One year I decided to buzz Sarge..... not a good idea. He was always on the lean side and the new hair-do made him look like a deranged hyena. I hope he forgave me that grooming session. I'm sure he did, he was always very forgiving. I miss my old boy today.

You get a puppy and then are amazed at how fast they grow. The years pass very quickly and you are suddenly faced with problems of old age. Sarge had cataracts for several years and I knew his vision was going, but he was still happy and at times playful. He would pick up Oscar's ball in his mouth and kind of toss it for him when we tired of the game-- always the peace-maker. He would stand back at the food dish and patiently wait for Oscar and Louise to finish. If ever there was a dog that deserved cloning, it was him. I think I will take my coffee outside now and sit in the shade of the maple tree while I cry a bit and miss my dog.........


Paige said...

It always is sad when one loses a pet. They are as much of a family member as any human is so it is hard to see them go. It is even worse when you have to put the pet to sleep to end the pain you sometimes wonder if you are making the right choice but know in your heart that you are. I enjoyed your post and made me think of my own pets that are gone that I still dearly miss.


menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Oh this brought tears to my eyes.I have had to take a few much loved pets to the vet for the big jab. It kills me every time but it is the best gift you can give a suffering animal.

Jilly said...

I will be digging up as many pics of him as I can find and send them your way very soon.

ed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JOY said...

Kathy - Blessings on your memories of Sarge. They are so much a part of us that they will always be there in some way. I lost 2 last year and I still cry some days. No one will ever replace them, they are each unique! Take care!

Hit 40 said...

I had some other thoughts until I saw ed's comment. I think he summed up my sympathy for you? What the heck? Can you read that?

Andrea said...

Oh my, there's nothing like the love we have for our pets. I'm a dog lover myself so your words are just about killing me right now. Our dog Buster went through cancer surgery last year and I really thought he wasn't going to make it there for awhile. It certainly aged him. I dread the day.

You've got great memories of Sarge. He's with you forever!

lovelyprism said...

Aww it's so hard to lose a pet, but so nice that you remember him fondly and have time to take a little coffee break and think of him. We just put our old dog down last month, we had him for 11 years. My son wasn't all that attached to him and has been after me ever since for a puppy of his own. I'm going to surprise him Monday, I hope he bonds to his new puppy.