The path we chose we chose together, though now I’ll walk that trail alone. For 20 years Duff, we walked together, side by side. Though it seems, more often than not, that you were running up ahead, stopping every now and then, to wait for me to catch up.
How many mist shrouded mornings did we spend together, in the boat out on a lake somewhere fishing? How many times did you sit and listen to my nonsense? How many sandwiches did we share, how many conversations about politics and poetry? How many times did you make me smile? How many evenings did we sit outside the cabin up at Dee Lake, just sharing each other’s company, listening to the loons calling out jnto the night?
Yes, it seems to me my old Duff, that we had things worked out pretty good. You presented solutions to my problems, gave me strength when I needed it, courage when I had none, and above all else, you gave me your unquestioned love and loyalty. You also taught me humility, patience, and how to appreciate the simpler pleasures of life. And I, well I took you for walks, threw the stick for you, shared my boat with you, and kept the promise I made a long time ago, to never leave you behind at home. That was one of the few wise choices I have made in this life. How many miles have we driven together, how many hours spent in each other’s compamy? How many mornings have we headed out together, how many evenings did we return, you asleep with your head on my lap, and me, thankful just for having you there. How many winding roads, how many songs on the radio, how many tunes whistled just for you, how many stories, how many pets on the head when you were asleep?
You taught me about life and all I did was simply make sure that your bowl was filled. In so many ways, you gave me so much more than I could have ever given back to you. So even with the pain that now takes my breath away, that seems beyond measure, beyond words, I do not have even one single regret.
Yes, we chose to follow our path together, such a long, long time ago. It hardly seems like a whole 22 years ago since I watched you through the window, lying on your back, feet in the air, playing with a leaf in the yard. You were just a pup back then. It brought a smile to me then. It brings tears to me now.
How many times since then did you whine to go for a walk? How many paths did you run along where each scent was fresh and new, how many fields covered in freshly fallen snow? How many meadows of tall summer grass did you run through that moved and flowed on a summer breeze like waves out on the sea, how many years of autumn leaves? Autumn was always your favorite season.
The years have, however, gone by far too quickly. Seven years for one seems so unfair.
It wasn’t that long ago that we were heading out on our first canoe trip together. Nor was it that long ago we packed everything up to move to Salmon Arm. I remember the first morning I brought you to work. You came to work everyday after that for more than 12 years. How many places did we get to go together, how many people did you meet?
No it wasn’t that long ago that I left you waiting outside the mall and, when I returned, you were gone. I looked for you inside and everyone said they had seen you, following my scent, your little white paws just going. I remember the look on your face as you peeked around the aisle in Zeller’s and saw me. I don’t know who was more relieved to see the other. After that you pretty much went in where ever you wanted in town, either laying shamelessly on your back to get your belly rubbed or mooching treats from all your regular soft touches, editors and shop keepers alike. We certainly got to meet a lot of people, you made a lot of friends. To some people you were just a dog, to others you were, and always will be, something special.
Yes my Duff, the years have gone by far too quickly. Seems we grew old together.
How many times in recent months have I watched you in your sleep, running in your dreams, running further on up the trail.
What each season has in store, none of us can ever know, but I do know this, when autumn winds once more begin to blow and all the leaves have turned to shades of red and gold, when early morning sends a shiver through my bones, I will walk this trail we started so long ago. And if a tear should cloud my eye, I will but turn my coller up to the wind and pull my hat down low. And with each step I take, though I may wish so very much that you were still there by my side, I will find comfort in knowing, that you are waiting for me, just a little further on up the trail.