Living in the Pocono Mountains is an ideal location for owning a dog. It seems a rite of passage – buy house, trade convertible for truck, get dog. It sounds like a country song.

My dog, Sedona, found me on a hot day in July many years ago. She was barely old enough to leave her mother. There was something different about this dog from the beginning. We connected in a way that I had not experienced with previous dogs. I loved all of my dogs, but this one touched my soul.

We were perfect for each other. She was strong, independent, never barked without a reason, loved children, got along with other dogs and had a face – especially those eyes – that was hard to resist. I could take her anywhere. Kids would try to ride her. I could pose her, trim her, she let me do anything.  Although, I never opted to dress my dog in costume feeling it would humiliate her.

I believe she found me to help me through some challenging days ahead – a divorce, death of my dad, a new job in Texas and back again, evolving… as we all do, accepting the changes and challenges together.

She was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. I was devastated. I would not opt for surgery or chemo on a 13-year old dog. Instead we decided on weekly shots of B-12 which I credit for her energy and health since then. There are two kinds of liver cancer, one is quick and the other is not. Thankfully, hers was not.

2020 was one of the most challenging years imaginable but I am eternally grateful that I have had this past year to share almost exclusively with my dog. And right up to the last minute, she was still active, eating and doing her normal routine. I dreaded having to make the decision when the time came. So, I suppose I was not surprised that she released me from that responsibility by peacefully going to sleep in my arms.

Now, as I untangle from our routine and try on new habits, I can still hear her walking across the wood floor. I miss her snoring and gentle breathing. It will take time to adjust. Already I find that I have to vacuum more often – especially the kitchen floor, re-adjust my food portions, but now I can leave the gate open when I go to get the mail and I don’t panic at the site of a porcupine.

I still walk daily with my neighbors. We lost three of our pack this past year, leaving two. I was saddened by the loss of each of them as I am sure they are too. My neighbors are my family. And a big part of our connection is because of our dogs. We stopped exchanging holiday gifts years ago, but our dogs kept giving gifts to each other.

It’s great to be a dog here. The UPS man has biscuits in his pocket as does the mail carrier. There are so many trails to hike and run free. You get to be a dog here. I will miss Sedona with all of my heart. But comforted to know she had a great life and she has left me altered for the better. She taught me unconditional love.

To all of the dogs that have touched our lives – Thank you.

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