The Passing of Strider the Wonder Dog

Posted 4/13/2009 - Our beloved faithful companion and friend Strider died on Easter Sunday at Village Green Park after an afternoon session of 3-way Frisbee with Pat and I. We had just completed our activity and were leaving the park when Strider stumbled and could not rise. I cradled his head as he closed his eyes and took several last breaths before he lost consciousness, dying of an apparant stroke in about 2 minutes. He showed no signs of pain or fear and was with his family when he passed.

Strider died after playing a magnificent game of catch for over half an hour. He loved to retrieve (sticks, balls, frisbees); but his favorite game was to play a unique 3-way catch with us. We would form a triangle with about 30 yards between throwers and 15 yards between Strider and his chosen partner. A throw to Strider was taken to the partner who was expected to fling the frisbee back to the distant thrower. Repeat.

After a number of tosses Strider would always swap partners - his way of sharing the activity equally. He was an extremely social fellow with great kinesthetic awareness. He could catch impossible throws at almost any angle, and run like the wind over the ground to catch a hovering frisbee. On the last day of his life he was still at his peak in this respect. Though he showed general signs of slowing down in his 12th year, when it came time to play he suited up and gave 100% with joy.

We buried Strider the Wonder Dog under the shade of our backyard flowering crabapple tree. Over the years he spent so many happy hours in that backyard that it seemed a fitting place to put his bones to rest.

God bless him -- he filled our family's days and nights with joy and happiness and made us better people for his being there.

Here is a picture of Stridey taken just a week before his death. He enjoyed the new house and slept on every carpeted surface and on every couch and daybed at one time or another. He loved this home too -- we're sure of that.

A Post-Script: Our friend and general contractor Vic Fiala gave us a copy of a poem written by Robinson Jeffers after his beloved bulldog Haig died. It moved me and I wanted to record it here for myself and others. Jeffers captured an essence of the relationship between dog and human in his poem, I think.

I also found a sketch of the garden where Haig lies which was done by Belle Yang. Pictures and words can be comforts when the spirit has passed away.

The House Dog's Grave

I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read--and I fear often grieving for me--
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope that when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dears, that's too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been.

And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

Robinson Jeffers, 1941