Shawn kindles many happy memories

Shawn kindles many happy memories By Bob Karolevitz Shawn is gone!

Sad to say, I had the unpleasant task of taking our ailing golden retriever on her last ride � to the Animal Health Clinic where the veterinarian administered what the staff compassionately called "heavenizing."

Like other dogs her breed, Shawn's hips deteriorated until she could no longer stand. She didn't suffer a lot, but you could tell she knew the end was near.

She'd look at us with those big brown eyes and seem to say: "I know it will be hard on you to make the decision to take me in, but it's got to be done. I just can't go on like this."

She was so right. It was mighty hard to let her go.

As you might expect, Phyllis cried a bit, and I've got to admit that I had a lump in my throat. Somehow, though, we got Shawn into the Explorer, and I made the humane run into town. Then, quickly, it was over.

As a golden retriever, Shawn was supposed to be a hunting dog, but she wasn't. When firecrackers started popping on the Fourth of July or when shots were fired in the next section, she "hunted" for a dark corner to get away from it all. She didn't like thunder either, and she'd hide ostrich-like under my workbench or wherever there was a place to stick her head.

When the noise got real bad, she would quiver uncontrollably as she stuck her head between our legs for protection. The instinct to hunt, if it was there at all, was lost in the dread of the moment. She was, after all, just a pet, and she played that role exceedingly well.

Oh, she had a booming voice and would let us know when somebody drove into the yard. But the bark didn't go with her wagging tail as she was anything but threatening as she greeted the UPS man, the Schwan's driver and our visiting friends like a big puppy dog.

We often wondered that if the chips were down, she would rise up to the occasion and be Phyllis's protector. Fortunately, she never had to face that test, so we just assumed that Shawn would do the right thing if the time ever came.

Putting a pet down is one of those traumatic, heart-wrenching experiences which most pet owners eventually have to face. It's especially bad at our house because Phyllis has a unique attraction to her animals and they to her.

It was not easy, then, for her to say goodbye to Toshi, her indoor cat of 15 years, or to Skeeter, her 33-year-old quarter horse who is now buried in her own small pasture on our farm. No doubt there will be more tears shed in the future because we'll always have pets on the place.

We've gone through it with Cindy, Drifter, Scampy, Darell and his Other Brother Darell, Ted, Mary Mary, Tippy, Pickles, Trina, Rex, Brita and even Wrong Font, the goat.

Sometimes I think we should just raise oats. You can't name them. They all look alike, and you don't cry when they go away. But that isn't how Phyllis wants it, so we've got to be prepared for some occasional grieving.

All of our pets have left us with lingering reminiscences of one kind or another. Among them were Tommy, the three-legged cat with at least nine lives; Tag, the Morgan mare who fooled us about foaling; Joseph and Merry, the pygmy goats who had kind of a biblical sound to their names; and Maude, the aging ewe who followed Phyllis around the yard like a dowager dog.

Now it's Shawn's turn to kindle memories of a happier time.

© 2000 Robert F. Karolevitz

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