A Stones Throw 1-30-14

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Hi. Shadow Here.

I lost a good friend and my mentor last weekend. Actually, I began to lose her several months ago.

Leah, my friend and mentor, died last Saturday.

She was 16 1/2 in dog years. I guess that made her 115 years old in people years. But, age doesn’t matter.

What matters most is that she was family. She was family to Jade and Mike. She was family to me – and to Thunder and Honey, and even Jade’s cats: Fiddler and Yentl.

Leah was a Bergamasco Sheepdog. She told me most people called her an Italian Sheepdog because Bergamasco was hard to say. She loved to go outside and do her “walk about.” I often went with her and we would talk.

She told me both her mother and father came from Switzerland – not Italy.

According to what she found when she was researching her genealogy she discovered that both her father and her mother came to America riding in the cockpit of a commercial airline jet – a year apart.

I guess that made Leah a first generation American.

It doesn’t matter.

She came to our family seven dog years before I did. That gave her the experience she needed to help me become a part of our family. She knew when to give attention and love to Jade and Mike. She knew when to keep her distance.

She told me that I needed to help Mike. He had recently lost his German Shepherd, Bodo. Leah told me that Mike would need me to be his – and for him to be mine.

That was the best advice I ever got.

Still, Leah always reminded me that while Mike and I belong to each other, I am still a part of the full family.

And that family is important.

Leah reminded me of this almost every day of my 9 1/2 dog years as a member of Jade and Mike’s family. When I would get upset because Thunder was bullying me, Leah would tell me Thunder was just wanting love and attention.

She always gave him her love – he didn’t always return the love – but she never stopped loving him.

Leah was that kind of a friend. She not only knew when Jade or Mike needed her attention, she also knew when she needed to be with me – or Thunder – or Honey – and when to leave us alone.

It was as much her family as it is Jade and Mike’s.

Leah and I talked every day. That started to change several months ago.

As I said, I think we actually began to lose her several months ago. It seemed there were times she was alert both physically and mentally but there were other times when she seemed “gone.”

There were times I don’t think she knew what she was doing or even what she wanted to do. She would just stand and stare into space.

Mike told me she was suffering from dementia. He told me there were times she would be alert and other times when she would not remember anything about her life. He told me there would be times she would not even recognize me.

I didn’t think Leah would ever be able to forget me so when she would be standing – staring into space – I would go to her.

Sometimes she would shake her head and start walking. Those times she would talk to me, although some of the time she didn’t make a lot of sense. Other times, and those other times started happening more and more, she would just stand there and stare into space.

Almost like she didn’t know I was there.

Like she didn’t know who I was.

And yet, she always seemed to be able to give Jade and Mike her love and affection. She would walk up to one of them and lay her head on their knee.

They would love her – she would love them.

She never forgot them.

That all ended Saturday.

I think she knew that she had taught everyone the importance of family. I think she knew it was time for her to leave our family.

I think she was just tired of the physical pain she was feeling and the mental anguish of her dementia.

I do know she will be missed – by everyone.

Rest in peace, Leah. You were my friend and my mentor. I will always love you and miss you.

– Shadow