|Anyone familiar with our shop also knew that we were the ones with the two
dogs. From early on, our guys came to work with me. Part as a way of having
their company and partly to keep them from staying at home all day just laying
around and getting old. The little guy is Taylor, the big black one Dusty. Taylor
had the personality, always ready to say "Hi" to folks and go over to get a
scratch. Dusty has been the head of our security here, keeping us safe. Both
have a story and they are both a part of the work we have done here and the
feeling we try to put into each piece of work we do.
Dusty's is the oldest story, around the 27th or 28th of December in 1994 I was
driving home from my last place of employment with my daughter. We came
around the corner and there at the street we were turning on a VW minibus
was stopped at the sign. Sitting not three feet in front of him, staring up at him,
was a dog. I could see the driver and he looked at me and kind of motioned like
"Look at this crazy dog!" We pulled over and I said to my girl "Well, you know
the drill, if he comes up to us we'll take care of him(find his people)." Well, I got
out and I felt something behind me and I looked and he had jumped inside the
truck! I said "I guess we'll take him home!" We got him there and washed him
and, it being a sunless snowy day, the light was funny and I couldn't really
focus good on him. He still looked dirty after a bath so we called him Dusty.
Couldn't find his owner and he seemed like a good watch dog so we kept him.
He did turn out to be a great watch dog. People paid attention to him. After I
married again he took my wife as part of our "pack". It was funny, I would sneak
up on her and Dusty would see me and bark because I was trying to "get" her.
Not a threatening bark but like a "Hey! Hey! You're the boss but leave her
alone!" For all his toughness he would do things like touch your leg as he
walked with you. Sometimes, in the summer and I'd be wearing shorts, he
would give you the softest of licks. More to touch you and say he was with you
than a lick actually. Oddly touching gesture...
Taylor's story was a different one. Not six months later the little Doxie mix we
had, who was only ten, died of heart failure. He really was my first dog, first
that was mine on my own not the family dog when I was a child. He was a good
guy with a great personality and that spirit that Doxies are known for. I was
pretty devastated, the little guy left quite a hole when he was gone. A week had
passed and I had to do something to help with the grief. We went to the Greene
county Animal Shelter. They had told us they had a couple of Doxie mixes so
we were excited. It was evident that their idea of a Doxie and any actual
relation to the breed were two different things. We were about to leave and a I
said "We came this far, maybe we should ask about one of these guys." There
was one dog who was not barking at us, in fact he wasn't even paying us any
attention at all, just sitting there on the side of his leg not his butt.(Turns out
that this is his way of begging, not looking at you) I asked the attendant "
What's up with this guy?" He told me that if no one filled out a questionnaire on
him that he was being put to sleep at the end of the day. Well, it was five
o'clock so there wasn't much left to that day." We asked to hold him and he
wasn't really that keen on being held. I don't know why but we said we wanted
I guess I could go on for quite a while on this little guy. He turned out to have
been a little mistreated. He liked to get out of the yard and just go exploring, a
regular Houdini he was. One time he got out and some kids brought him back.
They gave him to my neighbor but only after he bought them a pack of smokes!
I started bringing both of them to work with me around '99, they were great
company. Taylor loved everyone, he would go up, and if he didn't get a scratch,
he had a routine to get attention. It was funny, maybe five people, since he was
with us, would just ignore him completely. He would look after them when
they walked away in that sort of longing, knowing the scratch was lost, way
that he had. Then he would kind of sniff and walk on, sort of like he just didn't
understand what was wrong with that person but he never dwelled on it.
Well, the years passed, every day was one with my guys right there. Always a
part of me and my life. This condensed version can only give you a glimpse into
that daily routine. I'm sure you know that no dog story ever ends well.
Taylor was always the strongest of dogs. He looked heavy but he was all heart
and muscle underneath. I never took him to the vet but to have his teeth
cleaned. This last winter, '08-'09, seemed to be a hard one on both my guys. It
started that Taylor boy went down the steps a little slower. Then he didn't like
to run up them like he used to. We assumed he was about 15 years old by now
and that was natural. Dusty had already done the same by that age. Spring came
and he didn't pick up as much as I thought he would with the warming
weather. Then about March he wouldn't jump right up when I got him in the
morning. I thought maybe it was something making him tired and work was
slow so I wasn't looking to hard at the little guy. About the end of April my
daughter took him to the vet. He had cancer. A week and a half later my little
buddy, the one who was nothing but alive and strong. The one who was ready
just to have fun and get some attention was gone. His heart was weak and that
is what did him in at last, I could see had got up that night and made himself
comfortable,he died in his sleep,.
I went to the shop and made him a box. I painted on the top: Taylor, no happier
friend, no better dog, and we dug a hole and put him down in it. After I was
done I planted a white teacup rose over top of him.....
From that morning, my Dusty dog changed. While we were taking care of
Taylor, he came over. He was different though, not focused. That's how he has
been since then. He stopped walking around and marking his territory. He goes
out and takes a whiz and comes back. They weren't exactly best friends but
they were companions. He acts as though he has lost a sense, like he can't smell
anymore or can't see or maybe he tries to wag his tail but it isn't there...
This August I took him to the vet. He hasn't been except for teeth cleanings
either...he has arthritis in his back legs(my poor guy, who used to fly! The dog
who could jump into the back of my pickup truck 4 feet off the ground and
only his back feet touch the tailgate!)and the beginnings of kidney failure.
This is the story f the dogs of Shadowhill. Right now Dusty is doing a little
better. I have to take a lot of time with him, sometimes he is grumpy,
sometimes he is not sure where he is.....I take care of my buddy and I cry
because I know his time is not long. I know how much I will miss him because
he is so close to me, so much a part of my day and I know how much I have
It's Friday, Jan 15. Woke up today, Dusty's back leg wasn't working, just
hanging there. The vet said, from what I described, that he had a neurological
problem, it wasn't going to get better. He'd also lost about 12 pounds in the last
month and a half. A mobile vet cam by the shop that evening, gave him a shot.
Dusty died while I was holding him.....
I am writing this and sharing it with whoever takes the time to read it as a
tribute to them and an acknowledgment of their contribution, to the 'Hill,
my life and my work. Just what they gave me I could not begin to say, so
many other things have given my life depth and meaning as well but they were
good friends but also in my care, depedent on me. Other
things I have had to care for and take care of...but my two buddies maybe I just
feel like when I go to wag my tail, it's just not there.