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Stella stops to sniff a patch of grass. Rocky comes bumbling over and even though he is fifty pounds lighter than she is, he clonks her on the side of her head with his head and shoves her out of the way. Stella jostles back and the two of their noses bump off each other as they take in the mysterious yet fragrant odor rising up into the clear morning air. Rocky, deciding that the spot needs anointing, raises a leg and pushes out only a few drops because that's all he's got left in reserve. Stella doesn't get out of the way fast enough and her ear gets splashed. Same as it ever was. It's as if they'd never parted.

Barclay is around somewhere, not so much interested in the scent preoccupying Stella and Rocky as he is in the squirrel he's just spotted digging around a tree. Barclay springs into his run, stretches his body out, all four feet off the ground. You can barely see him. You can barely make him out. He's fast but still the squirrel manages to disappear up into the tree, the highest branches of which seem to disappear in the clouds. Barclay barks his disappointment but it doesn't really matter because he's not really all that disappointed - the barking is just part of the game - as there's lots more squirrels and lots more time for squirrel chasing.

Stella hears Barclay's bark and looks up. She decides it's something exciting, whatever Barclay's up to, so she trots over. Rocky, not wanting to be left behind, follows. Barclay has a squirrel in his mouth. Stella tentatively, respectfully, sniffs the air around the squirrel then she looks at Barclay and stamps her front feet, ready to play. Barclay drops the squirrel which runs off and Stella gives chase and Rocky chases Stella and Barclay chases Rocky - it's all very worthwhile - and because they get hot and thirsty from all the chasing, there is a sloped path leading to a cool, shallow lake and there they drink and Barclay rolls on his back and cavorts in the cool soft grass. Stella finds and munches on some new shoots. Rocky, who is relatively new to all this, still isn't sure and sniffs around for something reassuring.

Rocky runs at the other dog, his hackles up and he barks furiously at it. The other dog leans back a bit but otherwise just sits there. Stella hurries over and starts barking at the other dog as well. Barclay watches from a few meters back. He's somewhat suspicious of Huskies but this Husky isn't doing much except sitting there. Strange, Barclay thinks. But then Huskies are that way, aren't they? They have those strange pale eyes but this one doesn't have those eyes. She just has ordinary brown ones. That's okay then.

The sun has been shining for a day, maybe a year, maybe longer but the dogs remember snow so it snows for a change and then the snow turns into rain and the rain turns into a river and the river turns into an ocean and the four dogs are running along the beach. Stella has a long bleached stick in her mouth and she's shaking it and she's whacking the rocks on the beach with it as she runs along. Rocky is running and stopping and running and stopping every time he smells the scent of something, maybe fish, maybe critters, maybe ... but then he gets whacked in the head with Stella's stick and she stops and lets him grab a free end of it and their tug of war elicits growls and grunts and groans and the stick is the most exciting thing in the world. After a while, they stop to chew on their respective ends of the stick.

Barclay sniffs a beached fish which flipflops and slaps him in the nose and then Barclay runs and chases the Husky whose name is Sheba but no one has called her that in a very long time. Pretty soon, they are running across the field and through the woods and up the hills and across a frozen lake. They are chasing shifty squirrels and fat raccoons. They are chasing slices of cheese skipping along on four legs and pizza crusts fluttering about with angels' wings.

Eventually, Stella and Rocky join them and they tree a slow possum who hisses at them as they bark and bark louder until their barking is like thunder rumbling across the plain and there is no one there to tell them to stop so eventually they stop on their own, quite satisfied with their accomplishments.

The dogs riproar around for a day, maybe a year, maybe longer and then they find their couches and they settle in.

The light couldn't be more glorious. Even as evening comes, the light fades but its glow remains. When the dogs fall asleep, they dream of life. Why else would they sleep if not to dream of life? Rocky snores the loudest. Stella quietly whistles through her nose. Barclay barks in his sleep. Sheba is the quiet one. They are each their own now, finally and fully, but they all dream of life and all they have left behind and all that await them.

15 Comments to “Away”

  1. I've been following you for a while as an anonymous, Fred. This is awesome. I'll bet Stella and Rocky were missing each other.

  2. Biscuit says:

    I bet my Puff and Zoot are there, too. Probably by the fireplace.

    Thanks for this.

  3. Rika says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Fred says:

    Yes, there's definitely a fireplace. I forgot the fireplace.

  5. this was wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing. Now i need to find some kleenex

  6. Cathy Chambers says:

    Beautifully written, yes there must be a fireplace for warming dog butts. Fred, I love your writting and your photography is amazing. You have a wonderful following.

  7. Erin says:

    That was so beautiful Fred, you made me cry.

    I hope they meet another great Husky, my Moka. She would love to run, chase squirrels and take long naps on soft couches with them. She could also show them where the most delicious treats and snacks are. She always had a knack for it!

  8. C's Mom says:

    I love how all your dogs are together again. I hope my Max and Ashley and our 3 cats are together too having a blast and dreaming about life. I wonder if they ever get a glimpse of me and the new doggie in the house.

  9. Fred says:

    Of course, Erin. You can never have too many snack hunters.

  10. Fred says:

    C's Mom, where ever they are now, whatever they are now, what they experienced in life must still resonate somewhere, somehow, around you or within you, carrying along with you.

  11. Dee says:

    So beautifully written. I really do imagine they are having the best time up there, with just one element missing. But while they wait for you to come join, they laugh they play and they frolic. They get to meet new friends, but these new friends aren't strangers everyone has a common ground. And when you finally come join, they all know all about you. They know about your first love and the divorce. They know about the miscarriage and the grandkids, about that big house in the country and when you decided to go back to college. When you finally get to see all the ones you lost they know you and you know them, and it's just like coming home.

    Thanks for this Fred. It really made my week.

  12. Harlee Cole says:

    Oh Fred, I know that they will always resonate with much joy and fondness in your heart. Mine too! They and yourself inspired me to look at adoption with the TAS and I have never looked back. I suppose as the human guardians we have to live even after they have passed. It is unfair and heartbreaking, but I wouldn't trade the memories and love they have given me for all the money in the world.It is something isn't it?

  13. Lynda says:

    It was so good to see you yesterday, Fred! I'm so very sorry to hear about Rocky - this blog post was wonderful. My first dog Polly is also sitting by the fireplace with Stella, Rocky & Barclay.


  14. Gina says:

    Hi Fred and company,
    See link:
    For Barclay,Stella & Rocky.(Maybe you could add a star for Sheba-if you do it now they'll all be together in the night sky.)
    Hope you don't mind.

  15. Fred says:

    Thanks so much for that, Gina. Lovely.

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.