I would like to take a moment and thank the folks of our locality for being the loving, caring neighbors that make a giant difference in the lives and well-being of others. This afternoon as my wife was letting our little dog Teddy out to pee, she was distracted for a second before she could snap the outside leash to his collar. And as usual when this happened, as it had a few times before, Teddy sensed his chance to run free for a while, and ran out between Nancy’s legs, and took off just as fast as his little short legs could carry him. Running at full speed looking as a tumble weed in a tornado or a little bundle of fur, doing what he loved to do. Looking back as if to say, ha, ha I out foxed the old people again. I could imagine him in his doggie way, of singing out, “Free at last, free at last, free at last, thank god I am free at last”.
Then he would usually go down in the swamp and chase rabbits until he got tired out, then tramp the neighborhood marking what he seemed to think was his private territory. Teddy’s favorite activity when he was tied out on his dog run was trying to catch gophers that would tease him and get to close playing chicken with him, he ended up getting quite a few over time. Then barking at the neighbor’s dog or anything else that caught his attention. He had a really good nose, one day he was all excited and pulling hard on his leash and standing on his hind legs at something he was smelling. I got his leash and let him lead me to what was so interesting to him. I was surprised at how far away it was on the other side of the house, and yet he had gone straight to a turtle that was crossing the yard. He always alerted us when he was inside and any animal or strange smell from outside caught his attention.
He had certain cars and trucks he liked to chase that came down the back road by our place. His favorite was a neighbor that went by several times a day with three dogs in the back seat, he would go boiling across the yard like a blur, but he would always be so excited thinking he could catch them, he could never judge when he was getting to the end of the rope and would go head over heels and end up on his back, this had gone on for years, he never gave up trying. He was otherwise a really smart little dog, he quickly picked up on the chain of command between grandma and myself, he pretty much knew how to get around her. It would tickle me half to death when grandma would give him an order that he didn’t want to do. He wouldn’t move a muscle, except to sit still, turn his head and look me in the eye, waiting for me to give him the nod to do it. Otherwise she would have to get really firm with him, and even then, I would sometimes have to tell him to do it. In his little dog mind, he had identified me as the alpha male dog of the pack. He would never race to the door ahead of me, it would have been a sign of disrespect in the dog world of the chain of command.
Whenever he would get loose from his dog run for whatever reason, I would usually give him an hour or so and go out and call him. I would be able to expect him back within a few minutes after I called him. He would be all wore out and wanting something to eat. I had gone out about an hour after he had left yesterday and called him, figuring he would be back in a few minutes as usual. Within a few minutes I received a phone call from my neighbor on the afternoon of 11/8/2019 telling me that Teddy had shown up at another neighbor’s house about a quarter of a mile down Shippy road from where we live. I told him I would go pick him up right away, and went immediately to do so.
A lady that I did not know, Terri Ransom Kuerth, but whose family I have known all of my life came out of her house and down the walk towards me to their garage adjacent to their house.
I assumed they had put Teddy there in the garage to keep him from running off again. As she approached me, she looked sad, sorrowful and began telling me what had happened. Almost in tears, she gave me a big warm embrace telling me how sorry she was that Teddy had been hit and killed by a car by someone out of our territory. A person that tried very hard knocking on doors and such, to find out where Teddy had belonged. The neighbor lady, Terri had taken Teddy and had wrapped him up in a soft and cuddly type pretty and colorful fleece blanket and a terry cloth towel as she picked him up and handed him to me, and told me what had happened. I told her I would see that she got these back. She asked me to just bury them with him. This gesture of tender loving care for Teddy was no little thing to me. We will always be grateful for her kindness and thoughtfulness in doing this, I wouldn’t have to see Teddy busted up and could remember him alive and having fun.
I took Teddy home and buried him in a special place under an American flag by our garage. We will put a marker on it in memory of a fun-loving little doggie that had given us so much without asking anything in return. Who in his last moments was doing what he liked to do best, he was running wild and free, a happy doggie? In the next moment his spirit had left him to go to who knows where, he didn’t have to suffer on. We know all of this because our neighbors were interested and kind enough to do all they could to help Teddy and then call me and let me know where he was. In this way the grief we feel is greatly diminished because of their genuine care and concern. We don’t have the added torment in our mind and heart of forever after wondering what happened to our little Teddy dog. Had he gone in the swamp that he loved so much and got hung up some way. Or had a coyote waylaid and eaten him? Or an endless number of other imagined things that could have caused his never coming home.
It is things like this that restore our faith in mankind, with all of the bad news coming in day after day, it is blessing to know there are still a lot of friends and neighbors out here that are always willing to lend a helping hand.
There will not be much carefree restful sleep at our place tonight. Teddy had become a big giant part of our lives and everything we look at seems to remind us of the fun and enjoyment he always provided our family, of which he was one of. He always slept under my bed and would wait until I went to bed before he would get under it and chew on his squeaky toy for a minute or two before being quiet. Then every time I would get up to go to the bathroom, he would follow me and wait for me before he would go back to sleep under the bed. I taught him tricks and played tricks on him. He would get all happy, excited and wound up until I would have to stop it to get him calmed down.
I watched him a lot and learned his habits, and as odd as it might sound, we were able to communicate on many different things. I would ask him yes and no type questions that he would always answer with his body language or his eyes.He would lay by the hour on the sofa with his head on grandma’s lap, or at her feet while she played games on her computer, he knew she was the one he could wear down and get treats from. Teddy was a really big part of grandma’s life and our home, without him will leave an empty hole in both of our hearts and being to get adjusted too. But our neighbors have helped us a lot in getting started. Our fond memories of Teddy and the many pictures we have of him will come before us as life goes on. It gives me a feeling of peace and solace knowing that the last moments of our little dog Teddy, was being spent doing exactly what he wanted and liked to do, he was wild and free.
Nancy and I will celebrate our 68th wedding anniversary tomorrow, Sunday November 10th, we have always had a dog in the family. Teddy will be the last one. We have a lot of pictures of Teddy to bring back some of those good times being spent along the way. In closing I need to tell you that later on yesterday, after I had buried Teddy, we stopped back to talk again with Terri the lady that had shown so much love and kindness in what she had done. She came out and gave grandma a loving, caring hug that always makes one feel a little better at times like this. We thank God for having neighbors like this. May the God of all that is bless all of you that gave of yourselves for the well-being of others.
-Leith and Nancy Cunningham
Author Leith Cunningham’s Book are available at https://www.amazon.com/s?i=digital-text&rh=p_27%3ALeith+Cunningham&s=relevancerank&text=Leith+Cunningham&ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1