It was October of 1997. I decided I wanted a dog. Connell Cheverolet was having free adoption day at their dealership. When you adopted a dog from the Heart of the Valley shelter it cost you $50. When Connell had adoption day, he picked up the tab. He did it twice a year. The shelter would bring the animals to the dealership and you could check them out. Pat Connell was a very generous man and community leader. He died in freak construction accident and is sorely missed.
I wanted a small dog. Like a beagle or something. I was living in a trailer at the time and didn't have room for a big dog. There were all kinds of dogs there that day but not a small one that I liked so I moved up to a 50 or 60 pounder. There was this male. Rudy was his name I think. A Lab something cross. I really didn't want a male. They tend to piss on things in your house. I kind of liked this knot headed pooch but wasn't sold on him. I went to Connell's 4 or 5 times that day. Every time I was there, there was this other dog out of her kennell that someone was looking at. A beautiful Lab-Hound cross but she was very much standoffish (that's a word look it up). Anyway, I was hell bent to take something home with me. Late in the day I went back to take one more look at Rudy. I stood there and tried to talk myself into taking him home but couldn't do it.
There in the kennel next to him was the Lab-Hound cross. A pretty, pretty girl. I looked at the lady from the shelter and asked her "why is she still here?" She responded "I don't know. She's a great dog. We've had her for six weeks. She's been pet of the week twice and no one has taken her." Pet of the week is an ad the shelter runs each Sunday. If you take the animal, cat or dog, there is no adoption charge. I asked her "So, if you had to choose between her and Rudy, who would you take?" She replied "I'd take Sloan all day. She's the kind of dog that once she figures out where home is, she will lay at your feet" I thought for a second and then said "I'll take her." I never took her out of her little cage. Never played with her to see her dispotion. Took the gals word straight up.
"Oh my God! You're kidding?!"
"No, if she's what you say she is, I'll take her home."
So I go in to sign the papers. The lady I was talking to was very excited. "This guy is taking Sloan!" All the gals working stopped to tell me how greatful they were that Sloan was finally going to have a home.
It took a while for us to get used to each other. The first night I brought her home, I put a blanket on the floor and told her to go to bed. She laid down and went to sleep. I woke up at around midnight to check on her. She was sound asleep on my love seat. I made her get off and lay on her blanket. I got up again at 2 and did the same thing. I got up at 4 and she was on the love seat. Again. I told her to get off the love seat. She did. I threw the blanket on the love seat and told her to go to bed. It was one of many battles I would lose.
Throughout the winter she was very distant. Never really warmed up to me. We would go for walks. After a fashion I would let her off her leash and then spend an hour trying to catch her. It was a huge pain in the ass. That spring I started taking her to work with me. I had this old Ford Ranger with a sliding rear window. Sloan would hop from the seat to the bed of the pickup and back again. She would hand over the side so far that I would have to stop in fear of her jumpin out. But, taking her to work made her bond with me. I remember I had been taking her to work for a couple of weeks, one morning it was raining so I left her home. The look in her eyes was heartbreaking and I could hear her howling as I got into my truck.
She loved to travel with me. I moved up from the Ranger to a Dodge Dakota. Sloan would stand with her back feet on the back seat and her front feet on the console. Wagging her tail and spying for animals the entire trip.
I took her to The Prodigy's cabin one weekend. TP, his puppy Hogan, Sloan and me went for a walk after lunch. I turned Sloan off her leash as we walked down the road. She was about 30 feet ahead of me. TP and I are bullshitting away as we alwyas do. I looked up at Sloan and she is frozen solid. She's caught a scent. I look off to my right and I see some deer about 100 yards away. Sloan can't see them as the grass by the road is too high. I started yelling at her to come back. She raised up on her hind legs, saw the deer and was GONE! I raced after her screaming to come back. I must have run a 1/2 mile through the trees and she was putting distance between us.
I have way too many stories about this remarkable dog than I can care to write about. She battled two cancer surgeries and won. I tried my best to give her the life she deserved for all of the companionship she gave me and she gave me plenty. She was between two and three when I adopted her so I made April 1 her birthday. She turned 15 just over a month ago.
She's gone now. The last week has been hard on her. There was no more gleem in her eyes. Just the sadness of not feeling well. I made the call to end her suffering and though I am glad she no longer is, I am sad that I don't have my beautiful loving dog anymore.
Sleep well Dogger. I can never repay you for all the happiness you brought me. I have nothing else to say.