It has been nearly five years since I brought him home, and he was an urban farm dog from the first. I brought him home on a Saturday. Next morning we were in the front yard, checking the above-ground potato farms when George spotted two very small dogs being walked up the street. He responded as a farm dog should: State your business. Now move along. When we took morning walks, we were moving the coos out to pasture. (Coos, because we had Highland cattle. Imaginary Highland cattle.) I believe the coos got home on their own, because we never had to bring them back. The background of the photo here is a piece of art I bought for his “room”, round bales in a field. He went to Farmer’s Markets every year but this one. He attended Pet Blessings, and church parking lot sales, and the St. Vitus Festival. (He loved the meatballs!) He loved pizza crusts. To be fair, anything I was eating, but pizza crusts especially.
He had a huge circle of friends. George didn’t care about race, or pronouns, or if you were really a “cat person”. If he said you were part of his circle, then that was that. He had his “posse”, little girls waiting for their puppy to be old enough to come to them, meanwhile waiting for George to walk by, and we’d hear them a block away: “Georgie, Georgie, Georgie!”
He had a pointy nose, and his breeder thought he’d be the last of his litter to go, because he had no flashy markings, just a tiny white patch on his chest and 4 white hairs in the middle of his back. His hair was long and black and silky, and he looked like his mom, Jenna. Movie star handsome.
He was very athletic. He wouldn’t jump on people—he’d jump beside me on his leash, in place, airs above the ground. He’d work off-leash around me, huge circles, never leaving me, except for a quick break to shout down a groundhog hole. Not to leave me out of the fun—more than once he tried to take me down the hole. Then there was his LOG—part of a downed tulip poplar too big for the mowing crew to shift except off of the cemetery road. Taller than he was, even full-grown. George climbed onto it. He walked along it. He jumped onto it. He jumped over it! He jumped off it to startle other, smaller dogs. And then, one day, it was gone. And George is gone, 5 years and not quite 2 months of age.
Five years. If you lose an English Shepherd at 5, it should be saving someone from a charging bull or a runaway tractor. Not from an aggressive, untreatable tumor that aged him 10 years in 3 months. It’s so unfair, there just are no words. I tried to keep him comfortable, I tried to give him good nutrition…but that last week, yes, there were pizza crusts! As many as he wanted.
Sleep well, Farm Boy. Sleep well.