Editor’s note: We read Alice’s tribute to her beloved dog on Facebook and thought her words on the loss of a pet were so lovely that Dogster readers would enjoy reading them, too. We asked Alice, and she kindly gave us permission to run her tribute here.
My name is Grizzly. I am a good boy. When I was a puppy there was a choosing ceremony. A man and his wife came to the ranch. I played with the man’s shoelaces. He picked me up and I rested my head on his shoulder. Then I hugged him. He turned his head to the woman who would become my mother and said, “I want this one.” I was the only puppy in the litter with a name because I was the pick of the litter. My name has always been Grizzly. I chose my dad and he chose me.
I am a bird dog. I like to point at birds. I like to carry birds in my mouth and I love to give them to my dad. When I was a teenager, my dad took me to classes to learn how to be a hunting dog. I was very shy and did not do well in class. Everyone watched me and it bothered me so I did not hunt. One day the teacher placed a bird in front of me and released the bird. The teacher told my dad, “Release your dog.” Dad took me off my lead and said, “Hunt ’em up, Grizzly!” I ran after that bird.
As I ran, the rest of the world disappeared. It was just me and the bird. We were both flying away. I ran a good mile into the stark Mojave Desert. I was a speck on the horizon and the class could barely see me through binoculars. Then I turned and made a mad run back. I ran with force, with the wind in my fur and the sun on my back. I ran with joy, with freedom and with a sense of purpose. You could have heard a pin drop when I placed the live game bird in the palm of my father’s hand. He was so proud when he handed the bird back to the teacher, without a drop of spit. I had the longest retrieve and the softest mouth. I have always been a good boy.
I was ready for my first hunting test. It was a lot of fun. I cleared the field of birds and my dad had so many birds he was handing them to the judges because he could not carry any more. The Judge from Arizona jumped off of his horse and shook my dad’s hand thanking him for bringing me to the hunt test. I was the best dog he ever saw. My first test as a Junior Hunter, I scored all tens. My last test as a Master Hunter, I scored all tens. My dad was proud of me. I am a good boy.
I am a handsome Brittany. I have a big block head, a square muscular body, and a saddle of orange on my back and sides. My aunt, who is also my obedience teacher, sent my picture in to a company and they liked me. Then she took me to Smashbox Studios in Hollywood and I became a supermodel. I was good enough to grace the cover of a bag of dog food for an international company; then modeled for a different brand of dog food two years later. I was called back because I am handsome, I follow instructions, and because I am a good boy.
A year ago I lost 10 pounds. I was 50 pounds and then all of the sudden I was 40 pounds. I am an active dog and I like to run a lot. Lots of tests were run and repeated but nothing showed up. My parents bought me special food to help me gain weight, but I never did. Then they took me on a trip and I went all over the western United States. I have been to Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and throughout California. I have run in the deserts of California, Idaho and Oregon. My paws have touched the glacier waters of the high Sierras and I have walked the sandy beaches from Cambria to Malibu. I have gone on these trips because I am loved and because I am a good boy.
In January I got very sick. My parents took me to the emergency room because my legs were shaking uncontrollably. I was having a hypoglycemic attack. The next day I went to see a special doctor and he took pictures of the inside of my body. The pictures showed that I have lots of tumors.
It was cancer. The cancer started in my pancreas and spread to my stomach and liver. One big tumor pushed on my heart. My parents were told I had two weeks to live. They cried because they love me and because I am a good boy.
After I was diagnosed, my parents tried to recreate the best days of my life. They took me to lakes, the desert, and the beach. I even went hunting and carried a bird for the last time. When I could no longer run, my mom put bird feeders in front of the window and the quail came and ate right next to me. I stared at them and wiggled my nose and remembered the days when I carried them in my mouth.
I lived much longer than the two-week prediction. After two months I was still doing fine. Then a couple weeks later, I got really sick. I could not eat and when I did I had diarrhea. My dad was recovering from a surgery so my mom went outside to dig my grave. I sat next to her while she dug a big hole. The deeper she dug the more interested I became in the process. I started to dig, too. Pretty soon, we were both digging together. I was digging for a squirrel and she was digging and crying, until she noticed what I was doing. Then she started to laugh. It was not time for me to go, so the grave remained empty for two more weeks. The only thing in that grave was my Mom’s dried tears and the echoes of her laughter, because I am a good boy.
On what would be my last full day, my Mom took me to the lake. I love the lake. There are lots of birds, bunnies, and lizards. She walked me a short distance and saw that I was tired so we went back to the car. She drove me slowly around the lake, with the windows down, so I could smell everything that I love.
When we got home, my right eye rolled backwards because a tumor was pushing on my optic nerve. The cancer had gone to my brain. The next morning, I was completely blind and I was scared. My dad carried me the same way he did the day he brought me home. I rested my head on his shoulder and hugged him. He placed me in the car and rolled down the windows so that I could smell the horses, cows, and birds. He drove me to the place where I took obedience classes, the place where I first learned to be a good boy. My uncle works there and gave me a sedative. My eyes returned to normal and suddenly I could see that bird I chased when I was a teenager. It flew in front of me.
Then I heard the teacher say, “Release your dog,” and I remember what my dad had said so long ago, “Hunt ’em up, Grizzly!” As I ran, the rest of the world disappeared. It was just me and that bird. I chased that bird into the sky. I ran with force, with the wind in my fur and the sun on my back. I ran with joy, with freedom and with a sense of purpose. I was a young dog again, strong, bold and handsome. I am and have always been a good boy. I ran to the place where rainbows are made. After each rain, look at the rainbow in the sky. I am the color orange.
RIP Grizzly Benoit, Aug. 4, 2005 – April 1, 2014.
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About the author: Alice is a real property consultant, council person, and dog rescue volunteer. She lives in Leona Valley, California with her husband, three Brittany dogs and her Shepherd/Greyhound mix who thinks he is a Brittany. Read her updates and view her photography on Facebook.