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  • Bonnie Sallans

Go Doggies! Into the Sun, January 2022

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

January is a strange month. It seems like the longest month of the year, yet as it comes to a close, I am wondering where it went. In January, we run headlong into sunrise, the sky stretches and yawns before drawing us into the day and then, before you know it, it's over.

In January my sense of the entire year that ran before seems to be just as elastic. 2021 took forever; it went by in a flash. Where did it go? Is it over yet? At the beginning of January I am always out of sorts, perhaps for looking backwards as well as forwards all at once. This year I am counting losses. We said goodbye to Benny December 15, Nordiclight's Arnavik Benny (2010-2021). It was a Wednesday. He's the big dog running beside Magic, our Greenland Dog, in the pic. It seems like it was only yesterday I brought him home, watched him fly across my front field, all ears, legs and tail. It wasn't. We had eleven years. Not a bad run for a big dog. But it's never long enough.

Grieving seems to have a way of drawing me back to the sadness of all the other losses, as well as the joys. I have had dogs all my life. If you can say that and are more than twelve years old, you probably have said goodbye at least once, probably many more times than that, too many times than you'd want to count. But I do count. Because I do remember them, and there is joy. Each and every one makes their own contribution to a lifetime of riches, the wealth that it is to have known each and every particular presence, a slow parade of soft faces fronting noble, grand and giving spirits. This I tell myself. It doesn't make me less sad, but it does make it more than bearable, for if there were no sadness, there would have been no love either.

Last spring, for the first time I also had to put down a horse, my Pearl, March 24. March became another long month that suddenly fell short. Pearl was very unwell. Seeing her out with grace was the only kindness left. Horses are big and strong of body and heart. Magnificent. Invincible. Until they are not. They fall hard. The earth groans. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to her any more than I was to my dogs. But life is not a thing we get choose, not in its coming nor its going, the longing for miracles not withstanding.

No matter how often I do it, losing a loved one is never easy, I just get better at managing it. When my father died in 2018, I realized that this isn't true. I don't get better at any of if. I just learn that I can bear it, endure it, survive it. The sun also rises, whether I'm out there in the dawn looking for it or not. He - my dad - taught me that, my dad, many times over while he was alive and then, one day, when he wasn't. So did each of my dogs, and then Pearl.

Magic, the dog on the right in the pic, lies beside me now, her flanks rising and falling with her living breath, her ears twitching. She is quiet these days. She misses Benny. But dogs don't dwell in the past. For them the gift of the present is all comanding, all encompassing, all there is. Her composure is poised grace, not torpid inertia, her attention pointed, not desultory. She waits, preparing for what comes next. She expects the sun to rise and readies herself to meet it with the complication of forethought. When she does rise, her eyes will glisten, her whole body rushing towards the day, loss not withstanding. She will run it, the day, run ahead of it, run until it sets and once again, it is time to rest. She will vibrate with the joy of being alive and take me with her into it. I miss Benny. But I take my cue from Magic. Loss is sadness. But the sun is rising and today there is snow. I will go outside and play in it with my dog.

Soon - in April, there will be more dogs: a puppy, and - how delightful is this? That's a story for another day, soon enough. Today I remember Benny, tend the place in my heart that is enternally his, or at least so long as I draw breath. He was a gentle soul, and he leaves me with that legacy that is called kindness, in human interaction. It is a gift that I reach for when feeling impatient, or selfish, and so, perhaps I become a better person. I hope so. Today I pay tribute to his great strength, for he was a powerful pulling dog. Dogs are strong and Malamutes, well bred workign Malamutes are the strongest of all dogs. When I feel weak, I dig in and remember Benny hauling wood, water, a Christmas tree out of the bush. Benny gave it all to the load, then turned his head around to look me in the eye and ask for more. If I do the same, I just might get whatever it is I am doing done, and done well.

Including this blog post. The January blog post, the one that looks backwards at a trail well travelled, while heading forward, into the rising sun.

Onward. Go doggies. Go Benny. You are cherished, adored and deeply, wrenchingly missed.

Nordiclight's Arnavik Benny (2010-2021)

Forever mine.


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