This is my fifth summer, and Logan’s thirteenth. As we sit in our yard watching all the goings on around us, we like to reflect on what a gift it is just to be alive.
Logan has experienced so much more of life than I have. It has given him wisdom I can only hope for. His eyes are a little bit cloudier now, and his hearing is not what it once was, but he still runs like the wind and his bark is loud and strong. He is my rock. I trust and love him completely.
Logan once told me that I am the fourth dog to live here with our human family over the past 25 years, all Australian Shepherds, and all from the same breeder. I asked him what he could tell me about the others.
“The first dog was named Buddy. He was a Black Tri like me. I never knew him, but you and I owe him a lot because he is a big part of why our family loves our breed. I understand Buddy was a very kind and gentle, good-natured dog who rarely barked. He had a white marking on his muzzle when he was born that looked like a moustache, which is why the breeder originally named him ‘Stash.’ Apparently, our human family found that name objectionable for some reason, and the children named him Buddy. He must have been a very special dog because the family still talks about him as if he were a saint.”
“When Buddy was about five, Charlie arrived. I knew and loved Charlie very much. Charlie was like you, a Blue Merle (I’ve never really understood that term because there was nothing blue about Charlie -- or you for that matter). He was a quiet dog, stately yet unassuming. He and Buddy made a great team. Charlie almost never barked, and the children adored him.”
“When Buddy died, Charlie was inconsolable. That’s when I entered the picture. I think I was a bit of a handful for Charlie. I used to jump and nip and want to run and play all the time. Charlie had the patience of a saint (which he probably picked up from Buddy). And as you know, I really like to bark. I don’t think either Charlie or our human family was quite prepared for that. Eventually I settled down a bit, and Charlie and I made a great team.”
“In time, Charlie passed away as well. I came to know the pain of that loss, which helped me to appreciate Charlie all the more. Then you came into our lives.”
“I honestly didn’t know what to make of you. You looked like one of us, but you had a tail. And then as you grew up and wanted to jump and nip and run and play all the time, I realized that you were payback for the way I had treated Charlie!”
“Very funny,” I said. “How did they die?”
“Well, sadly, an inexperienced veterinarian treated Buddy with some medicine called ivermectin, which can be very dangerous for herding dogs like us. Apparently, he was not familiar with the adage ‘four white feet, do not treat.’ It was a terrible tragedy, and our humans still mourn him to this day. Charlie had epilepsy and would have occasional seizures (which were very upsetting to me and to our humans), but they never had any major lasting effects on him. He lived to a ripe old age, which is what he died of.”
“There will come a day, Cadbury, when I am no longer with you. I’m afraid I cannot spare you that reality. But I am quite convinced that when that happens, our humans will find another Australian Shepherd – with or without a tail – to keep you company. I must say that the thought of you dealing with a puppy version of yourself provides me immense amusement. As the humans like to say, ‘What goes around comes around!’”
“Now let’s turn our attention back to enjoying this fine day, and if you are good, I will share more stories of Buddy and Charlie, and how their experiences influenced me in becoming the dog I am today.”