Today is a special day in our house. Many houses have a day like today… It is a day when you pause to remember. On that day you said goodbye to your special soul mate you promised you would never forget, and that is absolutely true. You see, eight years ago today we said goodbye to our Forever Dog, Bob. Bob was short for his full name: “Bob Marshall Wilderness Dog” since he was adopted in Whitefish, MT where we lived and we wanted to honor the glory of the area. Bob was nothing if not glorious.
We fell in love first with his sister, Schafer (short for Shafer Meadows, also in the Bob Marshall Wilderness) and knew we had to go get him. There was a whole litter being given away because they weren’t pure bred. Who could turn this down??? He began life running and playing on the shores of the Flathead River in Glacier National Park.
Bob grew fast and became quite the river dog, he enjoyed some good hiking too. He went everywhere with us and fully embraced the glory he lived in. He would Kayak in the summer and float on the lakes and even visited a few mud bogs…
Bob had thick fur and loved the snow. He loved to roll in it, and drag us around in it. At the end of the day we would go out on the ski runs where we lived and he would chase us down on sleds or my snowboard. That was GREAT fun! On sunny winter days, my best friend and I would grab some Crazy Creek chairs and a few beverages and snowshoe up to a point overlooking the valley and watch the sun set while the dogs played. Sadly, cancer has come to call and taken her and Bob home…
But remember,before Bob left, he was always laughing!
That is how I will always remember him. Right up until that last day. We were simply out on our morning snowshoe and Bob wandered into the woods and did not return. When we found him, he was collapsed under a tree. We learned very quickly about K9 cancer. We learned how randomly and quickly it can hit. We learned how completely it can have control before you even have a chance to begin to fight. Bob had very aggressive Hemangiosarcoma: a tumor that had been silently growing on his heart ruptured that morning. His doctors took heroic measures and stabilized him so we could make decisions and get information. What we learned is that there was substantial spread of the disease. We took Bob home, and he just never got his “Bob” back. Bob deserved more than that.
A typical “Bob” day was to hang out on the front porch and wait for visitors to stop by and adore him (we lived at a ski resort on the way to a ski run) or possibly share their breakfast burritos with him. He would then go on a long snowshoe with us and stop at a neighbor house on the way home to help get the kids ready for school and help with their waffles. He would return home at his leisure, hang with us a bit and then return to the porch to watch for visitors and squirrels. At lunchtime he knew the lifties down at Chair 6 (just below our house) would often fire up the grill and cook good stuff so he would wander down there. You could hear them cry “Bob!” from our house. He was a legend. Then he would come home and commence napping until his afternoon snowshoe. He lived a large life. He deserved to be Bob every day of it. The next evening we had a great “wake” for Bob that all of his dog friends came to and our friends as well. We all celebrated a life well lived and gave him a living, loving send off. Quietly, we slipped out the next morning and made that last trip down the hill and said good bye to our dearest love. He drifted off quickly as he was so very tired.
This, my friends, is the face of K9 cancer. We thought it was an anomaly because we had not heard of it. When our next dog, Buddy, got it we began to learn the truth. There are amazing advances being made since we first began this walk with Bob, and we are grateful to folks who are taking this on every day like the Animal Cancer Foundation. Today we pause and not only remember some of our favorite things about Bob, but send special thoughts to all of you who have been forced to have days when you remember because of this disease. When you are remembering, remember to be grateful that you had such a powerful love in your life that you are eternally touched and changed by it. I gotta say, “I would not miss the dance…” Bob, I will continue the fight for you and all forever dogs. Miss ya dude.