Death And Friends- Hilli Has Flown Away

My intention was to write blog posts for each of my dogs. All three of them have a story. We all have stories, but I think that dogs that have come from the shelter situations and have passed through many hands, have greater ones to tell.

This past week I had written about my eldest dog, Hilli, in a post titled “Sweet Souls Of An Old Dog-Hilli”. Hilli was a senior Australian Cattle Dog that I had adopted this past October. Hilli had been dumped at a shelter in Oklahoma for being “too old”. I took her despite the issues that came with her and she proved to make up for all of that with love.

It is with regret that a week later, Hilli has passed away.

I was home for the day after spending my morning at the market and was in pretty high spirits because I had finally located some curtains with patterns that I could live with for the upper level windows of my house.  I was happily doing house work, including laundry.

Hilli liked to lay on her bed in the basement. Just adjacent to where she liked to take her naps is the laundry room. When you run the dryer, it gets comfortably warm and creates the ideal environment for napping. I think that’s why she liked to lay down there so much.

I was making my way down the steps to change the laundry out and as I came to the bottom of the stairs I noticed that Hilli didn’t look quite right and on closer inspection, I realized that she was gone. It had only been a matter of minutes since she had flown away.

I called my friend Diana, the friend I hike with a lot, and told her the news. Diana and her husband own a lot of property so I wanted to see if I could bury her there. I’ve also never had anyone pass away at home or in the middle of winter before, so that posed a problem.

We decided that the best thing to do was to place Hilli in the freezer until the ground thawed and we could give her a proper burial.  After some discussion and debating on whether or not we would get in trouble or if we cared that we would get in trouble, we decided that we were going to place her on the grounds in one of the parks where we liked to hike.

It might seem gross to some people to place her in a freezer for a couple of months but I think it’s the best thing to honor her life. She deserves it. She lived all of those years and in the end, was dumped by the people who were supposed to love her.

I don’t know that Hilli was ever mistreated. If she had been, she didn’t show it. Hilli was a very loving dog and never knew a stranger.  She was always very sweet and receptive to everyone that she met.

But.. In the end, she was dumped and left with an unknown future. Her former owner probably has no idea that a breed specific rescue had taken her out of the shelter and transported her to Illinois to be adopted out to someone in north central Indiana.

Whomever had her probably assumed that she was just put to sleep and never gave it a second thought. If they even cared enough to give it a second though. Probably not though. Any decent person with a conscience would never have left their senior partner behind like that.

The last five months of her life were spent hiking, napping, eating and playing with my ten year old son. I know that she really enjoyed the time that she spent out on the trail and even though she was older, she had no trouble keeping up.

It only makes sense to lay her to rest in one of the places that she came to know and really enjoyed spending time at. I think I have the perfect spot in mind. The hard part is going to be sneaking on to the property with a shovel. I’m sure it will be fine.

I have just a little anxiety over knowing that I have a frozen dog in my best friends freezer. It’s also kind of comical and it’s like Diana told me “Everyone needs a friend that will let you keep a body in their freezer,”

How true is that?

I enjoyed my time with sweet little Hilli. I wish I could have had more time with her. I just hope that her last few months on Earth were happy and comfortable and that she never felt any sadness and if she did, it was only for a moment.

She will be missed.

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Hilli getting a drink during one of our hikes

Sweet Souls Of An Old Dog- Hilli

In October, I drove nearly three hours to meet up with the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue of Illinois to pick up a stray that they had taken in.  All we really knew for sure was that she was approximately 7 years old, had cataracts in both eyes and that she was dumped at a pound in Oklahoma for being too old.

Hilli was led through the door on a leash. It was obvious that she did indeed have cataracts in both eyes and she was much older than 7.  Either way, she was in need of a home and senior dogs are hard to place.  After visiting with her for quite awhile, there was no way I wanted anyone else to take her.

Hilli can see a little bit during the day. I’m guessing that she can at least see shadows during the day. At night she will struggle if it’s dark and the lights are off. Once she figured out the house, she was fine.

At first, she was a little timid and would snap at people. She finally learned that she was safe and that there was no need for that behavior. Biting would have been a deal breaker.  She isn’t able to control her bladder much anymore. We deal with that by managing her water intake vs her frequent poddy breaks. It isn’t a perfect plan.

For now, Hilli is healthy and happy. She eats, she plays and she likes to join us on our short hikes. She keeps up just fine and actually does a lot better than Sasha ( the Rottweiler) and doesn’t seem to slow down at all.

There is something great about looking into the eyes of an old dog. Oh, the stories they could tell if they could. Looking past the eyes and seeing that life may not have always been great, but now it is, and that’s all that matters.  She looks forward to clean and warm blankets every morning, meals at the same time every day. A big yard to wander through. Not a care left in the world.

Hilli in October, right after her adoption. She helped my son and I rake leaves in the yard.

Hilli in October, right after her adoption. She helped my son and I rake leaves in the yard.

 

After adopting Hilli and watching her enjoy what’s left of her time living care free and in peace, it’s actually encouraged me to consider adopting more senior dogs. One at a time, of course, but to simply keep doing it.  The love and appreciation that is felt is overwhelming.

Why would anyone want to pass that up?

 

A Walk In the Woods- Snowfall Means Snowshoes

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We had a significant amount of snow fall in my area over the past two days. I made a last minute decision to go out to the park for a short hike before work.  I grabbed the bag that contained my snow shoes, loaded Lu in the car and off we went.

It was the first time this year that I was able to hike with my snowshoes. They definitely came in handy as the snow was just about to my knees. Snowshoes really do make a difference when you’re making your way through deep and heavy snow.

I was the first person to trek through the freshly fallen snow in the park. It was still snowing lightly when I arrived, but then the sun came out and the sky was the most beautiful shade of blue that I have seen in awhile.

I almost couldn’t stop staring at it.

Blue skies.. Nothing but blue skies..

Blue skies.. Nothing but blue skies..

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It was so beautiful!

 

I didn’t get to hike for very long before I had to get in the car and head back home. I had to work and the decision to go out to the park was last minute. Even though I didn’t have a lot of time, I still enjoyed it.

As usual. I had the entire place to myself. Lu and I had a really good time.  I took some photographs. I hope you’ll check out the gallery below.  It was a gorgeous morning. The sky was amazing.

 

 

When Your BFF Is a Jerk- Part Two

This blog post is a follow up to another one that I wrote a week or two ago called “When Your BFF Is A Jerk” 

I had a rare weekend off. I spent the majority of my Friday morning cleaning the house and doing laundry.  I washed a mountain of laundry and also managed to wash all of the dog beds.  Between the three dogs, we have at least six beds total and a number of blankets.

I say a “number of blankets” because I am seriously not sure. With Hilli ( the red cattle dog) being elderly, and not able to hold her bladder, you need a few otherwise you would be doing laundry every day.

I have three beds upstairs for each dog. I took Lu’s bed and the cover for Sasha’s up to the side room where I usually keep them and left them on the floor. Hilli’s was still in the dryer. I came back a few minutes later and this is what I saw.

 

Poor sad Sasha

Poor sad Sasha

Lu took her bed and not only put it on top of Sasha’s bed, but she’s also laying on the cover for Sasha’s bed.  Oh Dingo Lu, you’re such a cattle dog. AS you can see,  Sasha is completely milking the pity out of this moment.  Just look at that face!  Look at Lu and the “I don’t care,” look on her face. She’s priceless. She’s such a turd.

Lu is a great dog and all three of them get along really well. They play together and very rarely do they scuffle or growl at each other. You put three women anywhere and you’ll occasionally have some bickering.

Silly girls. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

 

Enjoy the Silence

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Solitude in the pines.

I went for a walk in my usual place. I have a lot of thinking to do, this is the best place to do it. I have a lot on my mind. Big stuff. Life stuff. Future stuff. Stuff stuff. I needed to get out and breathe and enjoy some solitude.

I arrived to find the parking lot by the trail head empty. My favorite way to find it.  There had been a recent snow fall.  There was evidence of a plow truck coming through and the county parks department that came earlier to unlock the front gate.

The sun was making an appearance. It was 18 degrees, but it didn’t feel that cold.  There was enough snow on the ground that I almost could have justified wearing my snow shoes. I didn’t bring them though. I’m starting to wonder, as January comes to a close, if we will have enough snow this year to  be able to get them out.

I know, be careful what you wish for.  The eastern United States is dealing with a snow storm that around here we just call “winter”. I’m certainly not downplaying the situation out east, we are just used to it here. I live near Lake Michigan and we experience the phenomenon of “lake effect snow“, where we will get a lot of snow dumped on us.

The systems can be pretty crazy. Sometimes you can actually see it ahead of you. You can actually see the outline of the snow on the wind as it’s blowing. Often, you can be stuck in the middle of a white out ( where you can see nothing) while two miles away, the sun is out and they don’t even know it’s snowing down the road.

Sadly, we don’t experience any sort of phenomenon of “lake effect sun”. That’s does not appear to exist. We actually experience more overcast days because of the lake. I love that lake though, don’t let me fool you. I am a huge fan of it and the sand dunes.

On my way to the park I passed a local in his little pick up truck. I know him because I met him on Instagram. He and I are the only people who regularly tag our locations for our photography. I don’t know his real name, but I can point him out in a line up.  He loves the park as much as I do and he runs the trails.  He was there. I recognized his footprints.

I ventured out. Since we were alone, I allowed Lu off the leash. It really doesn’t matter either way, she’s always behind me. It’s a cattle dog thing. Every now and then I instruct her to “go on” and she’ll run a hundred or so yards ahead of me, stop and turn around and run back. It’s always good to let them go and be a dog. Sniff around, dig in the snow a little, run, stalk a chipmunk.

We were spotted by two White Tail Deer who took off through the woods.  Lu and I watched from a distance as they jumped over the downed trees and brush. Then they stopped to watch us to determine if the intruders were any kind of threat to them.

We made our way through the trails. I am fairly predictable here. We completed our loop, stopping on the pier at Lancaster Lake. It has finally frozen over. There was evidence of critters that had been taking short cuts across the frozen water.

Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat. It was simply the perfect morning.

I forgot to think about much else.

I think that’s the point in this…