This is Baxter (black lab and brother) and Seneca (chocolate lab and sister, also the alpha). They are no longer with us. A year ago, almost to the day we decided to put Baxter down. He was suffering with a fast paced form of canine dementia. For such a carefree, fun loving dog to live in fear was just so wrong to witness. My husband, son, and I missed him terribly. He was a member of our family for 14 years. He was the runt of the litter. They gave him to us because no one else wanted him. So instead of coming home with 1 puppy, we came home with 2. 1 for each kid. Baxter was such a boy’s dog. He chased balls and sticks nonstop, he wagged his tail so often and so hard that once he actually broke it! Where ever the action was, he was there too.He followed my son and his friends where ever they went. When we redid our kitchen he was always in the middle of it all, happily wagging his tail. And the carpenters loved him. They often took breaks just to take him out and throw a ball to him. He wagged his tail some more. He loved meatballs and sneaking swims in our pool.
After Baxter was gone we all felt lonely, he was such a large part of our life. But we felt thankful that at least we still had Seneca. She was the quiet one. The one who watched from a far. You’d never know by looking at her that she was the alpha. But she was. She ate first, she walked through doors first. She got the first stick, always. Baxter alway checked in with her before doing and going anywhere. She was a subtle leader though. She never demanded that role from Baxter. He just knew it and I think he felt it fair. After Baxter died Seneca began to join the group more. She was my new yoga partner in the morning. She got underfoot, just like her brother use to. Watching these new behaviors I began to realize the depth of her alphaness. You see Baxter never did anything without her permission. All these years and she was giving him her permission to be the star of the show. She was a generous and gentle soul. We missed Baxter, but she missed him too. Over the year her health declined. Many trips to the Vet, many floors and carpets cleaned, many, many gentle pats and hugs. For a year my husband and I took turns getting up with her anywhere from 1-3 times a night. He came home during the middle of his work day to let her out and pat her a bit. She was lonely. Then she told us. She told us it was time. Her legs were giving out on her and she was making messes in the house without realizing it was happening. I knew I’d miss her but I underestimated how much. Because when we came home this time, there wasn’t another dog here to pat and hug and take outside. There was just emptiness and loneliness. We miss her and we miss her brother. This is the first time in almost 40 years that we have been without a dog. I didn’t realize how that would change our routines, thoughts, and conversations. But it has. Will we get more dogs? Probably not for a while. Our work schedules are not kind schedules for new dogs. After a few more full nights of sleep, and a few days of shedding some tears, I think I will be ready to start yoga again. For them. I’ll do it for Seneca and Baxter. They both loved yoga time.
Be mindful, enjoy the moment,