Remembering Sweet Willow

You were a ball of fur in my arms,
we couldn’t wait the two weeks to bring you home.
You had already made your mark on us
by falling asleep on Kevin’s shoe as we looked over the litter.

We researched names, the best dog foods,
the best toys for you.
Soon after, realizing you quickly destroyed the toys
and the dog food made your sensitive tummy sick.

The first night after you came home was spent in a crate
as we didn’t want you to pee on the floor.
You cried all night long, so Kevin and I took turns
sleeping on the floor beside you.
Realizing the next night we could elevate your crate to our level on the bed.

Working from home those first months was a blessing
I worked in my office and you laid beside me on your pillow.
Over lunch, we would go for walks or I would throw Kong down the hallway
and you would chase it down then bring it right back for me to throw again.
You knew the sound of my computer signing off for the day,
and would quickly raise your head in anticipation of the next activity.

We began working on obedience right away, attending puppy kindergarten
then puppy plus and beginner obedience.
You received your Canine Good Citizen award at just six months!
We took a year break to continue working on the commands
then continued on to Intermediate obedience and trying a hand at rally.
Everyone said to keep going, that you were great!
But my confidence was low, so I held you back.

You would still pull me along on our walks through the neighborhood,
the park, or a favorite get-away around Lake Nakomis.
Everyone who saw you complimented your beauty and asked your name.
(or they questioned me on your true German Shepherd identity
because of your long hair)
I became your nameless owner, but I was also very proud.

Around the house you were often lazy.
Your favorite places to lay was with your back to a wall:
In front of the entry door, the fireplace, the couch,
the patio door, or behind the chair.
You followed us from room to room, keeping a close lookout.

When you decided it was time for bed, you often sat directly in front of us
staring and waiting patiently until we gave the ok.
Once you stayed at Mom and Dad’s house while we were on vacation,
you went to bed on your own every night at 8:30 PM.
You always laid on the floor by my side of the bed
(on the bed was too hot for you)
and sometimes when my hand dangled over the side,
you would give it a gentle lick, waking me up just a little.

You enjoyed a variety of games.
One favorite that I remember playing as a kid
with our German Shepherd, Sweetie, was hide and seek:
I would hide around the house and you always came to look for me.
Sometime I stumped you by finding a new spot and had to give you clues,
but it didn’t take you long to stick your nose into my hiding place
and wait for me to come out!

For a short time, we let you out of your crate during the day
usually you were good, but sometimes we would find chewed up items:
fresh girl scout cookies, wooden handles of knives, loaves of organic bread,
television remotes and Xbox controllers.

During dinner time, Kevin and I often caught you listening to our conversation.
As we sat across the table from each other discussing our day,
you sat next to us by the patio door, ears up
and head pivoting back and forth at each of us
as if you were eager to hear the stories too.

Summertime included many trips north to the family cabin.
You and I would spend time catching up on training,
taking walks down the lane,
or exploring the lake in the paddle boat.
You loved to lay under the shade of the birch tree,
and already had your spot picked out as we began building the new cabin.
It was in the cool dirt right where the porch will be placed.

Each winter, you loved to play in the snow – no matter the temperature!
I threw snowballs into the air and you would catch them in your mouth
or chase them across the yard,
trying to dig the fallen snowball out of the snow.
In spring, you laid on the last small pile of snow
even as we saw grass throughout the rest of the yard.

Your beautiful coat was also hell on the carpet and vacuum
(sometimes my sanity too).
You shed clumps of 5 inch hairs everywhere you went.
We owned stock in lint rollers, rolling our pants each day as we got to work.
Kevin had to shave the fur off your paws to keep the snow out
otherwise you came inside with your toes spread apart
and a big snowball stuck in the middle.
And right under your ears was a crimped group of hairs
that made you look straight out of the 80s.

Now I look at the empty spots where you would have laid
or the floor that now remains hairless;
remembering the way you greeted me each day,
turning to see me as you ran up the stairs.

As we find peace with saying goodbye,
we will remember the patience and love you taught us.
We know you are in heaven with the other good dogs,
including Sweetie and Nico.
We hope there is a large shade tree for you to lay under,
a limitless supply of bones to chew on,
and squirrels for you to chase.


Read about how we lost Willow to canine lymphoma cancer.

4 thoughts on “Remembering Sweet Willow

  1. Pingback: Willow – our German Shepherd – lost to Canine Lymphoma « Linds of MN Blogtog

  2. I remember the day I met will and the Algona Lind house. I had always had a fear of German Shepherds. Willow seemed to sense that and approached me slowly, in her gentle way. Needles to say I no longer have a fear of them.Willow was so very beautiful and I absolutely loved her soft wavy hair. I’d never seen a Sheperd like her, and will always remember how I thought her name was so apprpriate for her. She made me think of a Willow tree blowing gently in a soft breeze. And she was trained so well, I have to remind myself when I see other dogs that they are not all like her. Willow was one of a kind!!!

    • Thank you for sharing your memories of her, Julie! Very sweet of you! I am so happy that she was a positive role model for the German Shepherd breed and helped you feel comfortable!

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