Regular viewers of my podcast/videos know that two shetland sheepdogs (“shelties”) wandered through the background of my videos from time to time. Milo, the blue merle, passed away a little over a year ago at the age of 14 and a half. His cohort, Wolfy, passed away this week at the age of 15.
The two were not related in a family sense but I always referred to them as brothers. But as anyone knows who has had dogs, the relationship they have with you defies description. They were not my children but they certainly were a vital and important part of my life.
Shelties are herding dogs and many people misunderstand what that means. It is not an instinct to push you around - that is, they do not try to “herd” you from place to place. What they do is more subtle: They watch out for you. Milo, in particular, quite obviously kept track of who was where in the house. If one person was in one room and another was a room away, Milo would park himself in the middle so he could keep an eye on both.
One or the other would often lay against a closed door when a person was in that room, to be sure he was alerted when the door was opened and the person was exiting. I cannot tell you how many times I looked down in the bathroom to see sheltie fur sticking under the door as Milo or Wolfy waited for me to finish whatever I was up to in there.
Wolfy spent a little more of his time watching the perimeters. He often stationed himself near windows so he could observe happenings in the yard. People who walked by got him barking and heaven forbid someone knocked on the door. I suspect a few UPS drivers were convinced I had a herd of rabid dogs inside after hearing the commotion those two could make when they wanted to.
A little over a year ago, Milo’s arthitis started acting up and he began slowing down. One weekend he took a turn for the worse, stopped eating and drinking, and my vet said there was nothing we could do for him. Milo left on September 28, 2015. I can tell you to the minute what time it was.
Wolfy was a little over a year younger than Milo so it was to be expected he and I had more time together and we did. Wolfy’s hearing went and he became quieter as a result. It seemed quite odd when the UPS man would knock and Wolfy slept through it as I signed for a package. His eyesight began fading around the time he approached 15 but he could still see during the day. When we walked at night I brought a flashlight and illuminated the path directly in front of him.
Nighttime was difficult for him though, so I often slept on the couch so he could find me. Despite his advancing years and slipping senses, he would still come and check on me at night when he got up. When I was in bed he couldn’t always find me in the dark but on the couch he could.
A little over a week ago he became visibly more rickety. He was eating, albeit much less, and still drinking. Until Monday, the 6th. I knew it was time and I’m sure he did too. I took him to the vet and said Goodbye.
I’ll be honest. I am not a “dog person.” I doubt I’ll get another despite the many well-meaning friends who have suggested it. I had a decade and a half with two of the best friends I’ll ever have. When I look back on that stretch of my life I cannot even fathom it. When I met these two, I had not written my first book. And since that time, I have lived in four different homes. Wolfy lived in all four with me.
I know that for some people, hearing us talk about our pets must be like it is for others to hear a stranger talking about their children. It’s all relative. But from past mentions on this site and elsewhere, I know there are some who will understand. Thanks for listening. And forgive me for indulging in one last photograph. It’s one of the best I have ever taken, regardless of subject.