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farewell good friend

We said goodbye to an old friend today.
We remembered many, many, many wonderful moments, behaviors and his absolute devotion.

ted-opie-garden

His hind legs and lungs were giving out. I could hold his hindquarters up while he walked 20-30 feet, but he still had to then sit a bit gasping to get his wind back. I could no longer hear his patient one-“Woof”-per-minute outside the door indicating he was ready to come inside. He simply didn’t have the strength to make the necessary volume. It came on rapidly in the last week and had to be done, well, today – our second day off of the week, preceding a predicted serious cold snap and a day that the vet works. He was in one of his favorite positions on the planet: in the back of the pickup with us petting him as he drifted off.

It hurt. It hurts. Newfoundlands average 8-10 years and we had 10 1/2 really great ones with him. His nobility, courage, power affection, and devotion will be legendary in my dog memory banks. We will get another dog someday, but never another Opie.

We placed his body in a grave by the chicken coop in a place unlikely to be disturbed. We dug up some irises that were scattered about the yard, and consolidated them into next spring’s Opie Iris Grove. The tailgate off his dog cart marks the spot.

tombstone

For half a dozen years or more I have been soaking a shaving brush in hot water, lathering in a shaving mug and soaping my face to shave. Tonight for the first time I noticed it feels very much like a big, sloppy, warm Newfoundland tongue mopping my face with love.