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Saturday, November 27, 2010

In Memory of My Dearest Friend

I lost my best friend and gardening companion on Thanksgiving. She worked side by side with me over eight years as I created my many gardens, worked on continuous projects, and lived life one happy day after another. No aspect of my life was left untouched by her unwavering love and devotion.


Shaca Latte

Shaca Latte arrived as a small ball of brown hair and swollen eyes, an unexpected gift from my wife. I didn’t think I was ready for a new puppy after losing my very special and adored friend, Stranger, to cancer. But on that first day Shaca walked happily with me in the backyard tripping over the tall grass blades. She stole my heart and never left my side. Until this week.
We all hope for friends and love and having someone who thinks we’re the most important person in the world. I’m one of the lucky ones to have found that. Shaca was bound to me and I to her by an understanding that we wanted each other, loved each other, and needed each other. She redefined the definition of loyalty and friendship for me.
Our mornings always started the same way. At around 4 a.m. she would leap onto the bed with stealth and finesse. For those many years she never woke me. Hours later I’d find her curled at my feet. It was only on a few occasions when I happened to be awake at that early hour that I was enthralled by how she managed to jump with a grace that allowed her to land in a space that my legs didn’t occupy. She would calmly lie down and rest her head on my feet, gently so as not to wake me.
She would stay on the bed and watch as I tended to dressing and preparing for the day. She could tell by which pair of pants I put on what the day’s activities would be. With one leg into my work jeans, her tail would start beating against the mattress with vigor. As soon as I headed toward the bedroom door she would jump down and then walk closely at my side down the hallway with an energy I could never summon in the morning. 

On the bed, waiting

She waited as patiently as she could as I prepared my cup of tea and started the water boiling. Her tail would start up again when I slipped on my shoes. She’d trip over herself  making her way to the front door. She knew to sit and wait for my command, but there was always anticipation on her part. I’d open the door, pause to make sure the coast was clear with no unsuspecting squirrels hanging around, then give her the hand signal that she was allowed to go. She would bound through the door, sailing through the air as she leapt over the steps. I would slowly walk to the edge of the driveway to pick up the newspaper providing her ample time to sniff the area and update herself on all the olfactory activities from the night before. I’d head back to the house and she would follow. We did this every morning for eight years, until yesterday. That was one of the most difficult mornings of my life when I had to do it alone.
In my chair
A chocolate lab, she loved the outdoors and water and being with me. She would lie patiently as I read the paper, most often lying in my lap as I sat in my recliner. She never seemed to grasp that she was a 70-pound dog and not the 10-pound puppy who first curled into my lap. I didn’t mind. It made her happy to curl into an amazingly small ball between my legs. It made me happy too.

The mornings would continue as I headed into the home office to check email, work, and maybe blog and she would squeeze under the desk to curl up on my feet. After a short time, though never soon enough for her, I would put on my work boots, and a jacket if there was a chill, and we would head out to begin our day outside. This was where she was happiest. 
She’d help me water the garden, taking the time to lap up water as it streamed from the hose. She’d patrol the area around the plants, always sniffing the ground. If I continued to water, she continued to sneak drinks from the hose. On hot days she’d run through the water like a kid, soaking herself. She would merrily shake the water free from her coat and do it again.

Shaca watching over the garden
On days that I’d grab a shovel she’d bound happily by my side. After I’d turn over a section of ground she’d waste no time lying on top of the loose soil. Never more than a few feet from where I worked, she would move with me as I dug further, picking a new spot on new soil near my boots. On special days I’d let her dig along with me. I might have to caution her to slow down because in her enthusiasm she’d lose sight of the gardening goal, but I usually just let her dig. She never wantonly dug up our plants; on just a couple occasions, she disturbed a few lavender plants as she eagerly hunted a gopher that had tunneled beneath them. She always had respect for our garden.
Running back to me
We’d walk around the property on clear days and in snow. She knew the area was hers to protect and enjoy. She would bound ahead, always with endless energy and enthusiasm, and return to my side for reassurance before bounding away again. When I’d stop she would stop. When I paused to inspect the trees or grass or sky, she would pause and observe the same location.
She had a weakness for squirrels. I don’t think she hated them, but rather wanted them to know they had no place in her yard. When one was spotted she would jump continuously into the tree until the squirrel would leave. She could jump. High. Taking a running start and using the trunk as a ramp, she would soar to unbelievable heights. I don’t remember her ever catching a squirrel by herself though on at least one occasion the squirrel she scared from a tree was snatched by one of our other dogs; I rescued it soon after. Once she spied a squirrel nothing else could distract her from her task.

Jumping for squirrels
She wasn’t afraid of machinery or power tools. Whether I was cutting lumber with a spiral saw or trimming trees with a chainsaw, she would lie watching me, waiting for the next part of the activity. When I’d mow the lawn she would find a nice location to observe my labor, always as close as she could. That simple chore would cause her to change spots a dozen times as she moved to be closer and be a more integral part of my effort.
When I’d unload soil or rock or mulch from the truck, she’d supervise my work. She never failed to be covered by the same dust as me. I have no doubt she would have shared my shovel if she could.
At the end of the afternoon, after we were both worn out, we’d walk slowly back to the house. She rarely ran to the house with the same energy with which she left it. Being outside with me was where she wanted to be. I tried to find as many excuses as I could to enable that.
Evenings were a calmer period. She would patiently and quietly beg with her beautiful brown eyes during dinner; she knew she always got scraps, but waited beside me with anticipation for the delicious bits. I taught her to catch the morsels and she was a marvel to behold as she snagged the airborne treats with speed and agility, but always with grace.
We’d watch TV or read a book or magazine, again with her curled into my lap. If she overheated she would roll over my feet and melt onto the floor with a clunk. Before long she’d be in my lap again. 
When it was time for bed we’d head back down the hall. For an unknown reason she was afraid of the area just outside the bedroom door and would pause anxiously before making a dash into the room. It was the same at both houses we’ve lived in. When I walked with her it helped relieve the anxiety and she’d settle in on her pad at the side of the bed. A few hours later she’d be at my feet on top and we’d start our day again.
Shaca had an endearing love for everyone around me. She accepted my new wife with utmost devotion and affection. On the days I was in town or away on a trip, she would curl at my wife’s feet under her desk. She would anxiously await my return. She would accompany my wife through the house and in whatever tasks they shared, but as soon as I reappeared everyone else disappeared. She would be glued at my side as she waited for the next activity we could share. Always at my side.
She’s gone now and there’s a hole in my heart. An unexpected and serious medical issue made her departure happen too fast. We had a scare a year ago when a thyroid tumor threatened our partnership. But we overcame that dilemma and she sailed past the vet’s prognosis like she sailed over the steps in the morning.
It will be difficult to continue gardening without her. I will, but it will be hard. I see her in everything I see in the yard and gardens. That’s why I can continue because I know part of her is in the soil and plants and trees. Wherever she is she’ll be able to lie down and watch me. That’s what she liked to do so much. I don’t want to take that away from her, especially now.
My life is better because of her time in it. She taught me to be a better person. She taught me to enjoy my garden and the outdoors in a way I never had before. She made every day special because to her every day with me was special. We shared life.
I miss her. I always will. We still have other dogs and will have more in the future. But there is only one Shaca Latte. The experience of deep and total love, from her to me and me to her, can never be forgotten.
Thank you, Shaca. May you chase squirrels forever as you protect your garden and watch over me.

Shaca Latte, 2002-2010
Rest in Peace

I lost my best friend and gardening companion on Thanksgiving. She worked side by side with me over eight years as I created my many gardens, worked on continuous projects, and lived life one happy day after another. No aspect of my life was left untouched by her unwavering love and devotion.


Shaca Latte

Shaca Latte arrived as a small ball of brown hair and swollen eyes, an unexpected gift from my wife. I didn’t think I was ready for a new puppy after losing my very special and adored friend, Stranger, to cancer. But on that first day Shaca walked happily with me in the backyard tripping over the tall grass blades. She stole my heart and never left my side. Until this week.
We all hope for friends and love and having someone who thinks we’re the most important person in the world. I’m one of the lucky ones to have found that. Shaca was bound to me and I to her by an understanding that we wanted each other, loved each other, and needed each other. She redefined the definition of loyalty and friendship for me.
Our mornings always started the same way. At around 4 a.m. she would leap onto the bed with stealth and finesse. For those many years she never woke me. Hours later I’d find her curled at my feet. It was only on a few occasions when I happened to be awake at that early hour that I was enthralled by how she managed to jump with a grace that allowed her to land in a space that my legs didn’t occupy. She would calmly lie down and rest her head on my feet, gently so as not to wake me.
She would stay on the bed and watch as I tended to dressing and preparing for the day. She could tell by which pair of pants I put on what the day’s activities would be. With one leg into my work jeans, her tail would start beating against the mattress with vigor. As soon as I headed toward the bedroom door she would jump down and then walk closely at my side down the hallway with an energy I could never summon in the morning. 

On the bed, waiting

She waited as patiently as she could as I prepared my cup of tea and started the water boiling. Her tail would start up again when I slipped on my shoes. She’d trip over herself  making her way to the front door. She knew to sit and wait for my command, but there was always anticipation on her part. I’d open the door, pause to make sure the coast was clear with no unsuspecting squirrels hanging around, then give her the hand signal that she was allowed to go. She would bound through the door, sailing through the air as she leapt over the steps. I would slowly walk to the edge of the driveway to pick up the newspaper providing her ample time to sniff the area and update herself on all the olfactory activities from the night before. I’d head back to the house and she would follow. We did this every morning for eight years, until yesterday. That was one of the most difficult mornings of my life when I had to do it alone.
In my chair
A chocolate lab, she loved the outdoors and water and being with me. She would lie patiently as I read the paper, most often lying in my lap as I sat in my recliner. She never seemed to grasp that she was a 70-pound dog and not the 10-pound puppy who first curled into my lap. I didn’t mind. It made her happy to curl into an amazingly small ball between my legs. It made me happy too.

The mornings would continue as I headed into the home office to check email, work, and maybe blog and she would squeeze under the desk to curl up on my feet. After a short time, though never soon enough for her, I would put on my work boots, and a jacket if there was a chill, and we would head out to begin our day outside. This was where she was happiest. 
She’d help me water the garden, taking the time to lap up water as it streamed from the hose. She’d patrol the area around the plants, always sniffing the ground. If I continued to water, she continued to sneak drinks from the hose. On hot days she’d run through the water like a kid, soaking herself. She would merrily shake the water free from her coat and do it again.

Shaca watching over the garden
On days that I’d grab a shovel she’d bound happily by my side. After I’d turn over a section of ground she’d waste no time lying on top of the loose soil. Never more than a few feet from where I worked, she would move with me as I dug further, picking a new spot on new soil near my boots. On special days I’d let her dig along with me. I might have to caution her to slow down because in her enthusiasm she’d lose sight of the gardening goal, but I usually just let her dig. She never wantonly dug up our plants; on just a couple occasions, she disturbed a few lavender plants as she eagerly hunted a gopher that had tunneled beneath them. She always had respect for our garden.
Running back to me
We’d walk around the property on clear days and in snow. She knew the area was hers to protect and enjoy. She would bound ahead, always with endless energy and enthusiasm, and return to my side for reassurance before bounding away again. When I’d stop she would stop. When I paused to inspect the trees or grass or sky, she would pause and observe the same location.
She had a weakness for squirrels. I don’t think she hated them, but rather wanted them to know they had no place in her yard. When one was spotted she would jump continuously into the tree until the squirrel would leave. She could jump. High. Taking a running start and using the trunk as a ramp, she would soar to unbelievable heights. I don’t remember her ever catching a squirrel by herself though on at least one occasion the squirrel she scared from a tree was snatched by one of our other dogs; I rescued it soon after. Once she spied a squirrel nothing else could distract her from her task.

Jumping for squirrels
She wasn’t afraid of machinery or power tools. Whether I was cutting lumber with a spiral saw or trimming trees with a chainsaw, she would lie watching me, waiting for the next part of the activity. When I’d mow the lawn she would find a nice location to observe my labor, always as close as she could. That simple chore would cause her to change spots a dozen times as she moved to be closer and be a more integral part of my effort.
When I’d unload soil or rock or mulch from the truck, she’d supervise my work. She never failed to be covered by the same dust as me. I have no doubt she would have shared my shovel if she could.
At the end of the afternoon, after we were both worn out, we’d walk slowly back to the house. She rarely ran to the house with the same energy with which she left it. Being outside with me was where she wanted to be. I tried to find as many excuses as I could to enable that.
Evenings were a calmer period. She would patiently and quietly beg with her beautiful brown eyes during dinner; she knew she always got scraps, but waited beside me with anticipation for the delicious bits. I taught her to catch the morsels and she was a marvel to behold as she snagged the airborne treats with speed and agility, but always with grace.
We’d watch TV or read a book or magazine, again with her curled into my lap. If she overheated she would roll over my feet and melt onto the floor with a clunk. Before long she’d be in my lap again. 
When it was time for bed we’d head back down the hall. For an unknown reason she was afraid of the area just outside the bedroom door and would pause anxiously before making a dash into the room. It was the same at both houses we’ve lived in. When I walked with her it helped relieve the anxiety and she’d settle in on her pad at the side of the bed. A few hours later she’d be at my feet on top and we’d start our day again.
Shaca had an endearing love for everyone around me. She accepted my new wife with utmost devotion and affection. On the days I was in town or away on a trip, she would curl at my wife’s feet under her desk. She would anxiously await my return. She would accompany my wife through the house and in whatever tasks they shared, but as soon as I reappeared everyone else disappeared. She would be glued at my side as she waited for the next activity we could share. Always at my side.
She’s gone now and there’s a hole in my heart. An unexpected and serious medical issue made her departure happen too fast. We had a scare a year ago when a thyroid tumor threatened our partnership. But we overcame that dilemma and she sailed past the vet’s prognosis like she sailed over the steps in the morning.
It will be difficult to continue gardening without her. I will, but it will be hard. I see her in everything I see in the yard and gardens. That’s why I can continue because I know part of her is in the soil and plants and trees. Wherever she is she’ll be able to lie down and watch me. That’s what she liked to do so much. I don’t want to take that away from her, especially now.
My life is better because of her time in it. She taught me to be a better person. She taught me to enjoy my garden and the outdoors in a way I never had before. She made every day special because to her every day with me was special. We shared life.
I miss her. I always will. We still have other dogs and will have more in the future. But there is only one Shaca Latte. The experience of deep and total love, from her to me and me to her, can never be forgotten.
Thank you, Shaca. May you chase squirrels forever as you protect your garden and watch over me.

Shaca Latte, 2002-2010
Rest in Peace

4 comments:

  1. You have been blessed with a truly wonderful friend. We wish her well in doggie heaven.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dan and Julie CordovaNovember 30, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    We wish Shaca well on her final and highest jump- she will be missed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Scott, I am so sorry for your loss. I am at a loss for words as I think about one of my loyal friends put to rest 4 years ago. The pain hasn't diminished over time. I dust his special box, with tears every week. He was amazing. Hugs my friend, along with the tears I am sharing with you now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I will never forget her first day with you and how it just took a few minutes of her gangly following you around and you were both hooked. She was a beautiful "girl".

    (Sorry I'm just writing this now....But was reading all your blogs.)

    ReplyDelete