12-2003 to 10-20-10
We know when we get a dog that they will only be part of our lives for a fraction of our time here on earth, and yet we cannot help allowing them into our homes and our hearts. They teach us things we cannot learn from other people. Their needs are simple, food, shelter and hopefully, love. I think that is something every dog needs and deserves. I know this simply from my experiences with dogs during my lifetime.
Only a little more than a month after being diagnosed with osteo-sarcoma, Cheetah, guard dog to orphaned alpacas, lover of children, 120 pound lap dog, was ready to leave the pain behind. I had the vet make a farm call so he could spend his last hour in the place he knew with his charges only yards away. I took a package of hot dogs and Rowdy and I went out and just sat with him and I fed him hot dogs. I let him sit on my lap one last time. I held his huge head as he went to sleep for the last time.
|Cheetah (left) & Dash 2005|
The vet tech, Joe, placed Cheetah in the grave on the hillside just where Cheetah used to sit and watch over his herd. When they left, I went into the house and brought out the ashes of our first Pyrenees, Dash, who was Cheetah's best buddy for 2 1/2 years until he died of a twisted stomach 3 years ago. I sprinkled Dash's ashes in with Cheetah and there they will both rest.
Now for some fond memories of Cheetah..... You've already read about the cria Miracle, who he refused to abandon in the barn. Cheetah also loved children. Maybe it was because they stood eye to eye with him. Every couple of years, I get a phone call from the local Head Start program asking if they can bring the kids out for a field trip. A week or so after the very first group came out, I got a folder full of drawings from the class. They had been asked by their teacher to draw a picture of their favorite part of their field trip to the alpaca farm. 95% of those drawings were of Cheetah! I wish I knew where those were today.
Cheetah also had a special relationship with my younger son, Sam, who was still in high school when Cheetah came along.
I can usually tell when one of the alpacas is ill or in labor because Cheetah is right there, watching over whichever animal is not acting "right" to him. I had one female alpaca who also guarded over other females in labor and guarded one female from Cheetah! She was due herself within a few days when I got this photo of her chasing Cheetah away.
We go to my mom's on the other side of Ohio for Thanksgiving every year. We leave on Thanksgiving day and return 2 days later, on Saturday, and have someone come in Friday and feed the animals. We take the Aussies with us. One Thanksgiving, when Dash was still alive, we came home on Saturday afternoon and started to listen to the 7 messages on our answering machine. The first one came in shortly after we left on Thursday and it was a neighbor just up the hill from us, telling us that 2 big white dogs had just passed their place, heading uphill, The next several messages were similar, each one a little later in the day and from a neighbor farther away, the last one was that night and was from about 5 miles away. Of course, I got panicky and went running out to the barn right away, only to find the 2 culprits lounging outside the barn, waiting to be let back in where the food was! I was SO happy to see them. That was their second and last trip abroad! We fixed some fences and they never strayed again.
And of course, Cheetah and Rowdy were buddies. In this photo, Cheetah is relaxing on a hay bale (we had to buy HUGE bales that year, it was a bad hay year locally) and Rowdy, who is only a pup, is trying to get him to play.
My 4 year old nephew visited us twice this past summer, and I will always hear him saying in a loud voice "I want to go see the Cheetah!"
Apollo has some big pawprints to fill!