In the Shade of the Big Tree

Drawing of a golden retriever dog under shade of fall tree
"feeling happy when your person is happy and feeling sad when they are sad – isn’t that what being in a pack is all about?"

Joe has been very sad since I left. That makes me sad too, even though it’s hard to be sad where I am now because it’s such a good, happy place full of the most amazing smells! But still I’m sad that Joe is sad. He’s my person after all and feeling happy when your person is happy and feeling sad when they are sad – isn’t that what being in a pack is all about?

You have to believe me that I didn’t mean to go away from him. It just sort of happened all of a sudden and I didn’t fully realize I was leaving him until I was already gone. Let me tell you how it happened.

I was laying in the shade of the big tree by the house while Joe was in the workshop making a big racket with his tools. He spends hours in his workshop banging the tools together. Then he comes out with a chair or a table or a shelf. He looks very proud of himself. Then later a man comes and takes it away and the next day he goes back into his workshop and makes another one. I always thought if he didn’t keep giving it away then he wouldn’t have to make another one. But sometimes the ways of persons are strange and inexplicable to me!

Drawing of a country house by a river and mountains with a dog under a tree
"I was laying in the shade of the big tree by the house while Joe was in the workshop..."

Anyway, I suppose in some way it’s his born job the way my born job is to watch for cats and other critters and chase them away if they come too near. So that’s what I was doing. I was watching for the cats and other critters so that Joe could be safe to make things in his workshop and then give them away.

I was being very good and diligent at my job – just like I had always done for all those many, many days before. But soon I felt that warm laziness come over me and my third lids began to rise. It’s a familiar feeling – that warm laziness – and we all know it so well, don’t we? I had always prided myself on being able to resist the warm laziness, to push my third lids back down, and to keep my two eyes on their work.

But this time was different. I was just powerless to open them up or even to lift myself. It was like in days long ago when Joe and I would spend all day running and exploring and then come home and gorge ourselves on food until we flopped down and just couldn’t move. Only this time I hadn’t eaten anything. I really hadn’t been much hungry in quite some time. So, if you’ll know the truth, it was actually a strange, scary feeling to find that suddenly I couldn’t move.

So you see, I began to drift off to sleep even though I knew better because I would be leaving Joe to the mercy of the cats and other critters. But, like I said, this time for once I just couldn’t do anything about it. Then, suddenly, I awoke in a shot. It was like when you wake suddenly in the night when the cats are wailing to each other atop the wall behind the house. But it wasn’t the terrible shouts of the cats that woke me from this day nap as though a shock was sent into my heart.

It was the most wonderful, amazing smell that wafted into my nostrils. A smell that had never entered my sniffer before and that made me feel that warm laziness but also feel very awake as well. The smell made my heavy legs feel light again and my tired tail began to wag like it hadn’t for a long time – like when I was a puppy again pouncing on the bed to wake Joe when the first light came through the tall window.

I followed the smell out from under the tree and into the bright sunlight and across the garden and through the gate and on and up and away. I knew I was leaving Joe, my pack, my person, behind but even as I knew it I knew I had to go. You understand I just had to follow that smell. It led me on and up and away and then somehow back again. Before I realized it I was prancing back through the fence and into the garden where there was the big tree beside the house and Joe was working in the workshop. Only now everything looked a little different. It was as though after smelling that smell I could never not smell it again and go back to the way things were before. I know it all must sound very strange and difficult to understand. Imagine how it was for me!

As I stood in the bright sunlight of the garden, wondering about the differentness of this place that I knew so well and for so long, I heard the noise of Joe’s tools stop. Then he came out from the workshop. I recognized him at once and my tail began to wag. Then I looked closer and I noticed that his hair had become white like the ground during winter and I noticed that he walked slowly and stooped like his arms were too heavy for his shoulders to carry.

He came out from the workshop and he brought with him a chair that he must have just finished because it still smelled like the forest after the rain. He placed it under the shade of the big tree and he sat down like his thin body was so heavy. He reached and brushed his hand across the trunk and I saw there was something there. It made me curious so I walked over and sat down beside him. I looked at him because I was happy to be back beside him and then I looked at the tree and I saw that my name was engraved.

On Forget Me Not Day we remember all our beloved pups that followed the good smells to reach a better place.