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  • I just jumped out of bed fully expecting my little shadow to follow me through the house. Tick, tick, tick, tick. But there was just silence, I even turned around to check if she was there. I think this will be the hardest part, Haley was everywhere I was for the past 16 years, and now she is gone.

    It was a late August day back in 1995 when I did a quick stop at City Market in Durango to pick up some toilet paper. There was a desperate man and his daughter sitting outside the door with a large box and a few people gathered around. I took a look and found this tiny little black puppy w/ brown eyebrows all alone huddled in the corner. I asked what her story was, apparently she was found on the Navajo reservation with the rest of her litter and she was the runt, all the other puppies had been taken. I told the man I’d be right back and ran in the store, bought some toilet paper and a bag of puppy food and that is how our life adventure started.

    Haley was everywhere I was because she HAD to be. There was no leaving this dog behind. She had a reputation for being very difficult. At the time I was in college so I would have to leave her at home and as I walked up to school I could hear her scream in sadness behind me. My neighbors didn’t think too kindly of that so I then tried to bring her up to school and tie her under a tree while I went to class. That worked until one day she broke free and she was running through the halls of the Business Building trying to find me. What was I going to do with this critter? I used to think – maybe there was a reason she was the last one left in the box?

    The only choice I had was to tire this girl out. We spent many, many long days on the rivers, mountains and hills surrounding Durango. One summer I took up kayaking and I bought Haley a life jacket so she could swim and run along shore beside me. She would fly off the river banks and paddle up next to me where I would lift her up on top of my boat. She loved to sit there with me. We’d run the hills around Durango, she - always out in front and always looking back to make sure I wasn’t too far behind. Once the mountain passes would open after the long winters, I’d ride my bike and she’d run along side me, sometimes for 20+ miles. And skiing, she was a snow dog and loved to ski. I’d strap on my skins and hike up the hills and she would snorkel through the snow behind me.

    She was a master escape artist. She could find me ANYWHERE. I had to come up with interesting ideas when leaving her alone. On the way to a friend’s house I left her in her kennel in my room. She somehow managed to break out of the kennel, break the screen to my window, jump out a second story window, run 7 miles into town where my car was parked at a friend’s and when I walked out to my car to return home, there she was sitting right on top of the hood. I couldn’t lose this dog even if I tried.

    When Haley turned 10 she turned into the best dog, she mellowed out enough to where a 5 mile run was enough to satisfy her daily exercise needs. She opened up to people and became more trusting. But she always held on to this obsessive need to be near me at all times. She started to really slow down about a year and a half ago when I moved to Park City. The past 2 months she really slowed down and her health had taken a turn. She had a lump on her leg that was cancer and I knew it was just a matter of time. I told myself that when she stopped eating bacon, then I knew it was time to let her go. A week ago was her last bite of bacon, I kept hoping she would find the kibble in her bowl appealing again, but the cancer had grown, possibly to her stomach. She wasn’t going to eat again and she was in pain. She had started to dig a hole in the back yard. I really knew it was time when this dog, who had religiously slept at my feet every night chose to sleep outside in the cold in this hole she had dug. I made the call to my vet, the hardest call I have had to make, struggling to get the words out. Never had I imagined I would be in the position to take her life, but it was time. I was to take her in to the vet in the morning.

    That was yesterday, its been a day without her. I woke up this morning and I told Brendan that I think I finally know how she felt all those times I had left her, that deep sadness and longing to be with me. I understand now Haley Monster. I miss you so much. You are everywhere. And I wouldn’t think twice about taking the last puppy out of the box again.
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