Last week was one of those times that nothing seems to go right. A couple weeks ago, I decided to fill a couple holes in my asphalt-covered driveway with some patching stuff that had been sitting in the garage for about three years. The “deep hole” stuff was pretty dry and hard, but I was able to smooth it fairly well with a tamping tool. Then I decided to cover that stuff with some more pliable tar-like stuff for shallow holes that was also pretty stiff. I finally got it fairly well leveled with a trowel, but it wasn’t setting up well. So, last week I decided to pack it by driving my pickup front wheels back and forth over the patches. I jigged back and forth a couple times and then checked to be sure it was packing and not sticking to the tires. It was working, but it needed just a couple more strokes. After my last jig,I backed up in order to put the truck into the barn, forgetting to check the present position, and felt a “clunk.” Oh-oh! Dumb me just backed into the corner of the garage! Sure enough, the garage was unscathed, but the truck bumper was bent and the taillight busted! I hate it when that happens! Joe Bailey did a good patch job.
Last week, we noticed that Snuffy was off his feed for a few days, which is not that unusual for him. Sometimes I think he found something else to eat, like Matt’s compost or something worse. But, Saturday morning I invited Snuffy to get into the truck for a ride to Western Maine Supply. He struggled to his feet, but his legs didn’t work right, and he stumbled and fell before getting there. I helped him into the back seat, but he couldn’t lie down the way he always did because his hind legs wouldn’t bend right. Mona and I got him out and laid him on the ground to see how he acted. He laid around all day on the front lawn where he could watch Dan Whitman and I working on a new camper shed. By supper time he couldn’t get up. I carried him into the sunroom for the night. He was no better in the morning and couldn’t even keep water in his mouth while drinking, so, with heavy hearts, we decided he had to be laid away.
Now, I keep reliving the wonderful companionship we enjoyed together. I don’t think I’ll ever go on another hike without thinking about how he loved to romp around and climb the highest hillock or rock around, stand on top of it and grin down at me. When we climbed a ledge too steep for him to get up, he would let me lift him up to where he could scramble up the trail. He loved romping ahead of me on the cross-country ski trail, chasing squirrels, barking at bears and “mooses.” He also made daily dashes up the hill behind the garage, returning just a minute or two later after doing what, I don’t know. He loved kids and in his younger days would jump into piles of leaves with Boston. He conned both our mail carriers and the UPS truck drivers into giving him dog biscuits or crackers every time they came to the mail boxes out front. He got into the UPS truck if they left the door open.
I remember when we went to the animal shelter in Bridgton to pick him up, the girls there told us they thought Snuffy was the alpha male in his litter. I liked that idea, because I like my pets to be full of energy and spunk. It was a challenge to train him because I didn’t want to use corporal punishment that might break his spirit, and he always tested the limits we tried to set. He wouldn’t “fetch,” because he preferred to play keep away with his toys or sticks. He never chewed our furniture, shoes or other clothing, but he did have a strong affinity for tissue paper (toilet paper and Kleenex tissues), which he ate, so we had to keep those items under cover and used covered wastebaskets in the kitchen and bathrooms. We used a shock collar to try to break him of chasing cars as a puppy, but it didn’t really work until one day when one of D.A. Wilson’s pickup trucks bumped him in the road by our driveway and knocked him over (no real injuries). That cured him of chasing most cars, except those of friends whom he recognized and liked. Most of all I think he loved to travel, as he would lie down on the back seat of car or truck and remain nearly immobile until he felt some biological urges.
I felt secure sleeping along the trail while hiking because I was confident nobody or animal was going to sneak up on us unnoticed. I tried to take at least a short walk with him just about every day. Most of the time, he was my shadow, following me everywhere, but over the past couple months I noticed that he would cut short some of our short walks, leaving me in the woods as he went home and would be waiting for me when I got there. I think he was just getting worn out. Snuffy was a perfect example of “a man’s best friend.” I buried him with a very heavy heart!