Willie is missing. Never was a dog more loved, or more pampered. He was actually a squirrel dog, and one of the best. But he was more than that. He truly was man's best friend, and more.
He was mostly a Norwegian, with a little Feist mixed in. He was out of Criss' squirrel dog, and a Norwegian mother. Criss had promised daughter Patty a puppy, and as soon as he was weaned, she took him. Her husband Bob was not a bit enthused about raising a pup, and short of forbidding her, he discouraged it.
He was a plump, lovable little ball of fur, and in a couple of days, Bob was completely won over. He carried him wrapped in a towel, and brought him whenever he came over to visit. Patty named him "Willie", as she said, "Will he hunt, or will he not?" He started taking him in the woods when he was so small, he would have to carry him home.
Not surprisingly, he made a number one squirrel dog. They made him a seat on their 4-wheeler, and took him in the woods every day. They taught him to lie on a rug when they brought him in the house, and he knew to stay on it. He may have been Patty's dog, but he bonded to Bob. He was very obedient, and Patty taught him to play "dead dog" and he would lie immobile until she told him that he could get up.
We "dog-sat" him when they had to be gone. They went out-of-state to a funeral recently, and he actually mourned for Bob. Although we petted him and brought him in the house to lie on a rug, he missed his best friend. He would sit on the porch and look down the road and howl. When they came home the following evening, he was beside himself with joy.
Although he roamed around the property some, he was never gone for very long. He knew when it was time for his snack, and when bedtime came. He was more than a hunting dog -- he got a bath once a week and was treated like a member of the family. Bob never had a dog all the time he was growing up, and Willie filled the place of all he had missed.
They are both devastated, and have explored every avenue available. I know what it is to lose a beloved pet -- we still mourn for Chloe. The worst thing is the uncertainty of a situation like that. The imagination brings out all the horrible things that could have happened -- and you keep looking.
I wrote an article once about the dogs we had owned and what had happened to them. I received a letter chastising us for the dogs we had lost, and added, "You must be irresponsible dog owners to lose so many." Hey -- we've been married more than 59 years and have always owned dogs. In that space of time, of course, dogs live out their life span. Whoever heard of a dog living for 50 years?
Anyone who has ever owned a beloved pet knows the heartache of losing one. We can only hope that Willie will show up somewhere. Until then, we go on hoping ...
I received a delightful letter from Neil Ferrell of Looneyville at Christmas time (I am just now catching up on correspondence) and he enclosed a poem that is appropriate at this time. He added that this past summer he had to have his constant companion of thirteen years put to sleep.
The Power of the Dog
By Rudyard Kipling
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie --
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head,
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find -- it's your own affair --
But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,