Doing What Comes Naturally

Hunter doesn’t live with us anymore.  He was my buddy for three years.  The powerful Border-Collie now works on a sheep ranch, doing what comes naturally.  When not keeping watch, he tours the ranch from the passenger seat of a pickup truck. 

Hunter is the greatest dog I’ve ever known.  Even as a puppy, he pulled little stuffed toys into the middle of the room, then crouched to guard against any escapees.  As he grew, and grow he did, I was astonished at his inborn ability to chase and catch frisbees.  Every day when I got home from work, the big guy and I headed for my neighbor Tony’s back yard.  When I tossed the frisbee, Hunter charged, leaped, snagged it, ran in a wide circle, trotted back, laid it at my feet and poised for the next toss.  He loved it and I loved it.

When Barbara was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007, I panicked.  It didn’t seem like panic, but like wisdom.  It was panic.  I secured an apartment for seniors at John Knox Village and prepared to sell the house.  One of the John Knox rules allows only small dogs to live with residents.  Hunter could not come with us.  His groomer, Cindy, made some calls to friends who own herds of sheep and horses.  She found him a job.

I still miss Hunter so much.  I won’t go near the sheep ranch.  I’m afraid. 

I’m afraid I’ll call his name and he’ll come like a bullet.
I’m afraid I’ll hug his powerful body and bury my face in his thick red fur.
I’m afraid I’ll sob so hard I’ll not be able to stop.
I’m afraid I’ll want to take him back home with me.
I’m afraid of the awful conflict stirring deep within his genes.
I’m afraid of the moment he steps back and turns his head toward the herd of sheep.
I’m afraid of his last look into my eyes before he streaks back to work. 
I’m afraid that the anguish in my heart will be more than I can stand.

When a thought of Hunter comes to mind,  I force myself to say the right things.
-On the ranch is where Hunter should be.
-He’s whole.
-He’s a Border-Collie, doing what a Border-Collie is born to do.
-Because you love him, let him go.

We never moved to John Knox Village.