Sunday, September 18, 2022
The header photo captures Louie, in my arms and riding back to a trailhead.
He had lived a while with me, and the picture is from his first time following my horse on a trail. He was hesitant starting out but with encouragement came along, but only slowly trailing. While guiding my horse, I knew that Louie was following because a bell was attached to his collar.
This outing had several riders, all aware that Louie was a novice follower and carefully remaining aware of the newbie. For about a mile all went well. At some point, as we riders chatted, I suddenly realized, No Bell! I stopped my horse, and looking around didn’t see Louie. I yelled, “Does anyone hear a bell?”
We all stopped, looking around, hearing nothing, and not seeing Louie. One rider, Linda Hanson, reacted quickly, by turning her mule and thundering backward on the trail. The rest of us followed and shortly came upon Linda. She was standing on the ground and holding my little fellow. She’d discovered Louie fast asleep next to a pile of brush and twigs. Linda handed him to me, and Louie, still half-asleep, returned to the trailhead in my arms.
That was the only time Louie wasn’t a perfect trail partner. From then on, Louie faithfully has followed my horse paths everywhere. Months later, a young hound dog puppy showed up at my house. I advertised and nobody claimed the pup. He became “Ranger.”
For years afterward, Louie and Ranger followed my horse on trails. We rode everywhere, in mountains and forests, scaled heights, and crossed waterways. The dogs were constant companions.
Louie wasn’t easy. He was so cute that people always wanted to pet him. His marble eyes could stink-look at would-be petters and frighten them backward. In truth, anyone unafraid of Louie’s stink-eye became his great friend.
Unfortunately, yesterday happened, and I had to say goodbye to Louie. Soon after turning thirteen years old, he noticeably began failing. My awareness was sudden; there isn’t any telling how long his problems weren’t noticeable.
I wish to remember that the little guy was bigger than life. Louie filled a hole in my heart and losing him feels awful. I’d love to repeat with my two trail buddies many past activities and adventures.
Ranger is turning twelve years old. He has lost some hearing and I’m keeping an eye on his aging process. Like Louie, he will cover his problems well, for so long.
This ending is a reminder that some of us connect deeply to our pets. We allow ourselves to participate fully in a two-way commitment. That’s a miracle of true companionship.
Dear Louie, RIP. Love, Diana