This examiner of wellness is unwell. He has been crying for three days ever since last Saturday morning at 10:15 AM when his and his wife Sabina’s dog Tess died. He has had eight dogs, but never one as wonderful, as holy, as his fellow senior citizen, his teacher, his trail-mate, and once for two years, his service dog.
Soon after their friend Laura Vance found Tess the puppy in the Denver Max Fund Animal Shelter in 2002, they adopted her. She had been rescued on the Rosebud Sioux Nation in South Dakota, and her ancestors had lived among the Inuit Nation in Alaska, and going back further in northern Siberia with the Samoyede people, a gentle, nomadic tribe that were accompanied everywhere by their dogs and used them to herd reindeer, pull sleds, and keep them warm in winter. These texts from a Samoyed web site might help the reader understand why the examiner is grieving so much:
The temperament of the Samoyed is a reflection of the breed’s beginning: brought up within the family, eating at the campfire, snuggling in the beds, this dog is the ultimate companion, gentle with family members and happy to work.
He fondly remembers Tess around numerous campfires, snuggling with her in his sleeping bag, and accompanying her as a true companion on 5000 miles of Colorado trails. His human running partner John grieves too these days.
A Samoyed’s main objective in life is to sleep by his owners. He needs to be an integral part of your family. They are a human-oriented breed, and want to be with their people inside or where ever their people happen to be at any given time.
He fondly remembers how Tess helped him recover from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that he sustained in 2007 that had left him a drug-induced coma for seven weeks. Tess visited him in the hospital and delighted him by jumping onto his bed. After coming home, he regarded Tess as his service dog for at least a year. Tess knew something was wrong with her master, so she wanted to help him. She kept him company and herded him when necessary. Sled dog Tess pushed him to go longer on the trails during his rehab. He would run behind her, like her sled.
Samoyeds can get along with non-canine pets when raised with them from puppyhood or when properly trained to do so, however they do have an instinct to hunt and caution should be taken around other small animals. They can get along with a family cat. This breed has an instinct to herd. His guarding of reindeer, requiring always a protector, never a killer, has developed a disposition in the breed unique in the canine world.
This examiner credits fellow-senior Tess with teaching him how to be a truly genuine person. She would always relive herself as far off-trail as possible and try to cover her poops with brush; she treated her much younger beagle step-sister with compassion; and this examiner will never forget the day while on our daily morning run in the cottonwood forest along the Rio Grande, Tess and his then step-sister Bela, a Cocker Spaniel, and I came across a mourning dove with a broken wing. While bird-dog Bela instinctively wanted to finish the bird off, Tess chose to become the dove’s protector in the strange three-way encounter, and it survived.
My dear sweet Tess you’ve gone to rest
but this I know you’ve stood the test
your heart of gold it will remain
a part of us where you shall reign
Your spirit bright it fills my heart
still I can’t bear to see you part
today I sit alone and cry
tomorrow I’ll stand and say good-bye
–Allison Carpenter ’97