Thirteen years ago, our young children were asking us for a pet dog. I was fine with the idea because my family had always had dogs. But Gil had not grown up with dogs and kept putting off the decision. To this day, I don't know what persuaded him to change his mind.
But the minute he did, Marika (then 8 years old) and I headed to the dog adoption fair at the local pet store and found (and fell in love with) a little black and white bundle of fluff who became known as Haley -- named for the Hale-Bopp comet which was appearing that year. She was apparently a "rescued dog" from the back of a truck on the Navajo reservation and we felt sure she had chosen this moment and this time waiting for us to reach down and choose her from all the other puppies in the enclosure. In our family, she was going to get the love she deserved.
We thought we had simply chosen a very cute little mixed mutt -- half-this and half-that. She grew into a dead-ringer for a border collie. Unbeknownst at the time to Marika and me, Gil had particularly wanted a border collie when he agreed that we should get a dog. I don't know that the appeal was anything more than his wanting a very smart dog whose breed was famous for looking its owners directly in the eye -- something many breeds will not do -- but he had it in his mind to look for a border collie.
Border collies are always looking for direction from their owners and so stay focused on our faces for the next command. Herd the sheep? Chase the FedEx truck? Get the frisbee? Haley was no exception.
Haley surpassed all our expectations for a bright, engaging dog and Gil soon admitted that Haley needed a companion. That's when Marika and I drove from Albuquerque to southern Colorado to pick our next dog, Jamie, a pure-bred border collie, from among a litter of frisky black and white pups.
Jamie is very smart. She knows something is different tonight. She watches as tears pour down our faces and I'm quite certain she knows Haley is gone. Perhaps she doesn't know it's permanent but she knows that Haley is not in the house tonight and that she has never known a night without Haley sleeping at her side.
So now we will lavish our love and affection on Jamie and try to help her cope with the loss we are all feeling deeply tonight.
Fortunately, Marika and Evan were here this past week and saw for themselves as Haley's health took a turn for the worst. Although it was difficult, both said their goodbyes knowing that this would be the last time they would see Haley who taught them the joys of pet ownership and abiding trust between humans and animals.
Haley's life was good
She shared her best years with us
And we won't forget.