"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."
-Robert Louis Stevenson
The above photo is of our very special cattle dog mix, Sydney, who I spoke of almost exactly two years ago here. She was in her prime, around three years old, and newly transplanted from the Texas plains to the incredible beauty of northern California. She'd make that journey with us back and forth across the same four states twice more, and travel to many cities in between.
This was our girl today, (at the ripe age of sixteen), enjoying one last trip to take in California's beauty, though in a much quieter manner. Instead of hiking with us across difficult terrain as she did in the photo above, this time my friend was given her own set of wheels: her beloved boys' radio flyer wagon.
It all began with just she and I back in 1996. I, a senior in college who was feeling more than a little bit lost after losing my previous dog to a tragic accident; and she, a rescue who had been graciously saved by a woman who'd found her chasing cattle on a ranch near her home, and taken good care of her while waiting a month for a spot to open at the local no-kill shelter. Eight years later we'd find the buckshot that remained inside her...evidence that a stray, cow-chasing dog in rural Oklahoma is not exactly a welcomed guest.
Today, it ended. Again, just she and I. We quietly rolled across the dunes and walked a tiny portion of the beach, (her legs would no longer allow anything more), and then two old friends sat quietly until it was time to go to the vet's office, watching the waves crash and retreat. Crash and retreat...
I whispered in her ear over and over and over again, until I was sure she could no longer hear, 'I'm here. I'm here. I love you. Thank you.'
My heart is a tiny bit broken. Fifteen years is a long time to share your life with a pet. We fought like sisters and consoled each other like best friends. She was the smartest dog I have ever known and I hope that even in my worst pet-owner days that I still did somewhat right by this dog who loyally stood by my family for so long.
You're an angel now, Syd. We will miss you always.