...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


remembering Huck

our dear boy Huck
with us
Feb. 1, 2014- July 26, 2016

Huck was so many things I admired.
He was spirited and wild,
soulful and deep,
and he was sweet and playful and noble, too.

His heart was valiant in every way,
the embodiment of perseverance and pluck.  

And boy, was he HAPPY!!!


In the short period of time we were lucky enough to have him, Huck taught us so much.
 Welcoming him into our family became a crash course in so many things.

 I'm still learning from him.
I suspect I'll be learning from him for quite awhile.

He taught Bootsy even more about letting go.

He taught me more about patience, and devotion,
and how the heart always has more room.
We both have gotten to experience yet again
how the painful price of broken-heartedness
is still absolutely worth the experience of deep love and connection.


We know very little about Huck's life before us, or even how old he really was.
He was found as a stray in Kentucky, very emaciated and worn.  
He was attacked severely by another dog while in foster care prior to coming to us, 
though fortunately he escaped with few physical wounds.

 When we first brought Huck home, he liked to hide behind things for security.

Once he decided we were trustworthy, there was no more hiding.
I was impressed with how quickly his heart was able to trust us, 
especially after whatever he had been through.

As he gained trust and confidence in us, his nose came out more and more.
Huck was a sniffer extraordinaire!
A few sniffs and it seemed he could tell where we had been,
who we had seen (and if they had any pets), 
and what we had been up to since he had sniffed us last.

When he sniffed our faces, it seemed he could tell exactly what we had eaten for lunch.
If he decided it was interesting, then we'd get a kiss.  

I loved Huck's gentle kisses, so I always hoped that my lunch was interesting!

Huck loved to hang out in the kitchen.
There are no sous-chefs more devoted than rescue dogs with a history of starvation. 

Our sweet boy was extremely thin when he first came home.  
You can see above how he was all legs with a gaunt face.
That was even after about 6 weeks in rescue foster care, 
getting fed extra portions every day for weight gain.

I get shivers thinking of how thin he must have been 
when he was trying to survive in the world on his own.

Oh, honey boy.  
How hard and awful it must have been.

Huck quickly won the heart of our big girl, Clara.

He squeezed his skinny self next to her in as many ways as he could.
I loved that about him.
 Probably because I'm a squeezer-inner, too.

To be able to squeeze in next to someone gentle and loving
is one of life's greatest pleasures, and deepest comforts.

Huck fell asleep in that position a lot,
closing his eyes, with his head bobbing down.

It was always so sweet to see.

We often found Huck and Clara
back to back
or butt to butt

and sometimes 
paw to paw.

 Huck also loved to follow us around,
He kept watch over us and liked to be near, 
and would squeeze in where he could.  

He had an extra special connection with his Mamma Boo.

Even if it seemed like he was asleep,
he knew when she left,
and would usually not be far behind, 
quietly going wherever she went.

Before his health really declined, Huck was able to come up to bed with us.   
Sometimes he went up there and waited for us to arrive.
What a welcoming feeling it was, to have him waiting there.
Bedtime routines are such a sacred rhythm.

He was the sweetest sleeper.

and human-sized pillow

and snuggler extraordinaire

I loved how attuned he was to us.  
If he felt us looking at him while he was sleeping,
he would open his eyes and check-in with us. 

I hope he could see and feel the way we looked at him 
with love in our hearts, and all over our faces.

Big smooshy faces of love all around!

When Huck was well and wild,
he loved to scan the property. 
He adored patrolling the back woods.
He barked at airplanes like they were the most offensive intruders of the sky
(I tend to agree with him).
He also loved to give squirrels and chipmunks a quick chase. 
Even as his body failed him, Huck never fully surrendered the chase.
Even if he could only hop a few steps in their direction,
and even if he could only bark a hoarse and craggy whisper of a bark,
 it was enough to make woodland critters run the other way,
 and that satisfied him.

Back in his running days,
we dubbed him "Houdini" after he devised ingenious ways to escape 
from our fully fenced property over and over again.
One day he escaped not once, but twice up into the quarry.

We quickly scrambled up treacherous slag piles after him - broken ankles waiting to happen.
Luckily, we all always made it home unscathed, but all breathless:
us breathless with rock-climbing fatigue, Huck breathless with adventure. 

Huck loved the snow.
It added another dimension to adventure.

We quickly learned that unlike Clara,
Huck was not to be trusted around the chickens.
He clamored to get in with them: jumping up, trying to dig under, etc.
It was great fun for him.
Luckily there were no ruffled feathers, and he just had a very good time.

 Clara and Huck had a funny habit
of convening together in the smallest room of the house.
The mud room, with just a narrow runner of a rug for them to fit on.
It's like two adults trying to fit onto a camping cot.  

It made me smile to see them in there together. 

Sometimes it seemed like they were consulting about their plans for the day, 
or to see how the other's day had been going, much like we humans do around here.

Dogs Planning The Day

Huck:  "What should we do today?"
Clara:  "We could relax and sleep.  And sleep and relax."
"Oh, I know!  We could make cute faces to see if those ladies will give us a bone!
 It almost always works!  I love bones!"
Huck:  "Whose turn is it today to guard the back yard?"
Clara: "What's guarding?"  "Why is that more important than a bone?" 
Huck:  "Oh, nevermind." 

And the Human Version:  

Boo:  "What should we do today?"
Me:  "Relax?  Lounge at the pool?  Have a read aloud in the hammock?   
Oooh, we could take the kayak out!
Let's make homemade ice cream and dance in the kitchen!"

  Boo:  "Let's do projects ABCD & E.  And there are about 38 cleaning jobs 
and there are outdoor jobs to infinity.  And Clara needs a bath."
 Me:   "Didn't I just vacuum?  Didn't Clara just have a bath 2 weeks ago?" 
"Why is that more important than homemade ice cream?"
Boo:  "Oh, nevermind!"

Yes, indeed.  Huck and Clara mirrored us very well.
Funny how the dogs we gravitate towards end up being so much like we are.


Huck's absolute favorite thing was getting to GO.
He was happy patrolling and guarding the premises here,
but always yearned to go BEYOND.
Go explore.
Go follow a trail.
Go catch the wind.
Or a face full of mud.

Huck ran with great excitement on his way out of the boundaries here,
and he would go at quite a clip the whole time headed away.  
But the second (literally, the second) of turning around to return home, 
he started to move like molasses.  
Soooooo slow.  
It wasn't that he didn't care about home.  
It was that he wanted to prolong the fun of the journey 
as long as he could!

The only time he ever returned home at a non-sluggish pace was with a rabbit in his mouth,
though he still walked slowly enough for anyone and everyone to adequately see his treasure.   
A rare and special play-time when Huck was well enough!
Watching two great Pyrs play sometimes feels like watching an avalanche tumble off a mountain.

One of the saddest things for us was that they didn't get to play more.  
Clara had never gotten to play much with our other dogs (they were all senior citizens),
so when she finally got a brother her size, she was thrilled!
Clara continued to try to play with him, even when he could barely stand.  
When he couldn't reciprocate, she still seemed to feel like they were playing.
Maybe they were.
Or maybe his presence was all she needed to feel playful.

His presence was delightful.
It was all we needed for our hearts to melt
and our egos to fade into the backdrop.

 By April 2015, the cancer in Huck's right front leg had become too painful.
Huck was already living in the miracle zone.
Bootsy fought it off as long as she could with all of her natural magic.
Longer than anyone believed was possible.
We were left with only one option if he was to have a chance at living much longer.
He had to say goodbye to that leg.
It was one of the most brutal decisions we've ever had to make.
 So we cried and cried.

I prayed and prayed.
Bootsy wished she believed in something so that she could pray.
Then she prayed anyway.

To have the limb cut off of someone you love,
when that limb is part of the rhythm of their every natural movement,
and everything they love to do...
Talk about heartache.
We tried explaining it all to him.

He was willing to trade his leg for more time.

So unfair.
But he was at peace about it.
He accepted it with his usual stoic grace and poise.

Good-bye leg.

As long as I shall live, 
I will never forget the heartache of watching him limp away from us, 
down the long hallway at the vet hospital, 
trusting the student who took his leash out of our hands, 
looking up at her with his smile
as she took him to prep for the amputation. 

I will also never forget the explosive joy I felt, 
watching him emerge from that same hallway, still wondrously alive (!),
and learning how to navigate on 3 legs with his big body.  
It was like watching him return from the dead.
Wobbling and hobbling and shaking on their ridiculously slippery floor.
But he did it, that brave boy.  
He did it!

brave boy, recovering...

Huck never let anything get him down for long, or maybe even ever.
He never seemed to feel sorry for himself.
He just kept adapting.  And re-adapting.
And adapting some more.
He was so determined to enjoy every moment he was given,
every bit of life his body would allow him to have.
Another one of the many things I admired about him.

happiness again!

still able to explore for awhile longer!

Running was no longer possible, 
but Huck became a very happy hopper,
and on his strong days, he was able to get a good stride.

Watching Huck on his 3 legs made my heart do somersaults a lot.
When I let myself really experience the wonder of him,
I flooded with feelings: 
amazed, honored, proud, humbled, aching,
all of it.

There is hardly anything on this Earth so poignant
as a 3 legged dog who loves life and just doesn't give up: 
 the true meaning of dogged.

That was Huck.

Always a precious sight to behold.

As the wear and tear on his remaining legs took its toll,
Huck's mobility on 3 legs started to fade.
He even suffered an infection in one of his rear paws,
causing him to be more like a 2 legged dog for awhile.
His health declines came in phases and waves.
Clara often stayed near him and watched over him during a downturn. 

Both self-contained and independent dogs, 
they still shared an orbit of connection around each other.   
It was so touching to see her tender ways of loving him.
After he had to say goodbye to his leg, 
he became even easier to snuggle and nuzzle into... no leg in the way!

We all loved him, snuggled him, 
and watched over him.

He used to put his arm around us, and hug us back.
What a sweet boy he was.  

Huck discovered that when you have 3 legs, 
basically everything you do is considered cute.
Even just sitting.  
And looking.

It was so sad for us when Huck couldn't come up to bed at night anymore.
He didn't seem to mind, though,
because it was so much easier for his body to stay on the first floor. 
He assumed a new role as protector of the lower realm of the house.
A critical role indeed, and he did an excellent job of it!

The moment we walked up the stairs to bed, he immediately commenced a round of barking,
a warning to let the whole world know he was there, listening and sniffing.
We were his flock.

Even when he wasn't that well,
Huck loved to be a little playful with us if he could.

He delighted in the feeling of the grass!
Since getting out and having adventures was Huck's very favorite thing,
Bootsy really tried to make that happen for him.

First she got him his own set of wheels.

Unfortunately, he didn't really have the strength in his rear legs to propel himself,
and getting in and out and turning was very tricky.
It never seemed to fit right. 
He was not impressed.

What ended up working much better,
and what we wish we had discovered sooner,
was this giant stroller cart.

It's made by Cycle Tote; they convert bike trailers for special needs.
Look at that smile!

It gave him a few more precious ventures out into the great beyond,
meeting new people,
and catching scents on the wind.

Huck especially loved it when we removed the sunshade on the top.
He wanted to see everything he could.

He loved his few ventures out in the dog-mobile,
and we loved providing them.
It was a gift for all of us.

Huck loved visitors!
He greeted everyone who came.

Here he is above with Jackson and Carolina,
who had just treated the dogs to one of their favorite things:  bananas!

Days when he could not get up easily for a greeting,
Bootsy would either lift him up, or he would bark his hoarse bark
until the visitors got the message to come over to say Hello to him! 

Huck loved the sunlight, too.

He was great at catching it.

Clara continued to check in on him.
Especially on the harder days.

Huck was very wise about what his body needed,
He found comfrey patches and ate from them.
And if it seemed like he wanted to get over the comfrey, and he just couldn't make it,
Bootsy carried him over to it, or harvested some, and brought it to him. 

He would just fall back when he got too weak or too tired.
Bootsy was ever-watchful of his needs, wherever he was,
all hours of the day and night.
Continually checking.

 If he tired and couldn't ambulate, 
she was at the ready, swooping in with his harness.
I liked to think of it as his magic red cape.

Some days he was so weak, his rear end just stopped completely,
so she carried him.

As his body failed him, I sometimes wondered if
when he closed his eyes, and felt the wind on his face,
if he was imagining himself running like he used to.

We didn't think he'd make it much longer.
Good days and bad days mixed,
and the good days losing ground.

We were very doubtful that he'd make it to our wedding night, but he did!

 He felt all the special energy gathering, and wanted to be a part of it.  

 Never have I seen a sweeter or more noble effort.
Huck struggled to his feet and hobbled on his shaky legs
out to greet people and be with us. 
It was the most touching thing.

He took a tumble coming down the stairs,
but everyone scooped him right up with such love,
and helped him to his feet again.

Our wedding was the last time he was really able to rally.
I think that maybe Huck was hanging on for that day.

We're so deeply honored and grateful
to have had him here,
that it meant so much to him
to hang on for our marriage.


We knew Huck's time was winding down.
Of course didn't want to face it.
We kept thinking he might rally again, one more time.

On the last day, it was staring us right in the face,
and we couldn't pretend.
 The look in his eyes said unequivocally:
this is happening
whether we are ready or not.

It didn't matter
that it was unfair and unjust. 

It didn't matter
that our time together had been painfully short.

This is it.

No miracles left:
no magic remedies or herbs,
no cure made out of love and devotion.

The miracle is that we were given all that we were.
And let us be grateful for it.
The other side of loving is so painful. 
There's no way around it.
The departure rips and hurts so deeply. 

Huck always had a smile.
Even on his last day, breathing hard and ragged through the pain...
Even in his last hour, he had smiles for us.
We had smiles through the tears, for him, too.

And the touching of paws.

As Huck was preparing to leave,
I noticed the way the sunlight felt special.
See the outline of a heart shape coming through the trees? 

I'm sure a skeptic would find a perfectly uninspiring scientific reason
for optical phenomena like orbs of light.

I think there can be more than one reason.
More than one explanation.

  Watch the blue orb emerge from the sun, and come down.

I felt spirits around us, coming in.


Other orbs, maybe other spirits.
The air felt laden with holiness.  

I think it's completely conceivable that if spirit has Light,
and Light is energy, and energy never dies (even science says it just transforms!)
Maybe that also could mean that Spirit may travel easily
with Light
and through Light.
(Maybe Light can be a vessel, just like the body.)

I don't have any doubt that Huck's Spirit
was made of Light.


Huck's big body was tucked gently into the earth that same night.
His body is now growing a garden,
including some of his beloved comfrey.
Such good medicine.

I placed an inukshuk on his grave.
Inukshuk means "likeness of a human."
Inukshuk are stone monuments used by the Inuit and other Arctic peoples
to symbolize that someone was here.

Huck was someone special.
And he was here.

Inukshuk were also used as navigational devices, and as memorials.

I hope it ensures Huck always knows his way home.
His home with us, and his eternal home.

May he travel between the worlds easily,
so we can feel him often.

 He is now in the long line of our beloveds by the back woods.
A line that no doubt will continue on,
though we hope not for quite some time.
Saying goodbye to 4 dogs in less than 4 years is rough on the heart, to say the least.  

Somehow the grieving never gets any easier, really. 
I feel the impulse to guard my heart a little closer to my chest, 
but I know once we get through this, 
we'll keep our hearts and our home open to more animals.
We wouldn't have it any other way.

Our hearts, and his.

Huck's life was indeed painfully and unjustly short.
But it was also full to overflowing.
And we got to share love and life with him,
and he got to share love and life with us.

That is a wonderful thing,
no matter how much it hurts.


Good-bye, Brave One.
We shall miss you.

We will love you and hold you in our hearts for all of our days.

We will take comfort in your flowers,
and the memory of your Mighty Spirit gracing this land.

Thank you for everything, Sweet Boy.

May you run like the wind with the angels now,
whole again at last!

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