She would tilt her head when we said “beach” or “ball.” Her obsession with stick-fetching was as adorable as it was intense. Her big, dark eyes, wet tongue and howls of happiness greeted each return home.
Our family dog was a constant loving presence. She brought joy and laughter, calm and balance. Her actions gave us insight into canine instinct and how wild dogs behave and perceive the world.
Most memorable are the moments of play. A curtsy or “downward dog” bow initiated the activity. She enjoyed tug-of-war with an old sock as if it were a piece of wild-caught meat. Her eyes would follow a ball or stick as if it were prey running its course.
She enjoyed caching her bones and rawhide – common behavior of many wild animals. Not so pleasant was finding a half-chewed sinew under the couch pillows, in a slipper, or weeks later as a rotting glob in the garden.
We gained insight into dogs’ masterful sense of smell as our girl found the smallest of crumbs on the kitchen floor. Snout to the grass, she traced the path of visiting wildlife in our yard with zig-zagging patterns. At the beach or along a forest trail, her nose would find any dead animal (so she could roll in the stench.)
Canine communication was fun to discern. Growls of unease. Yips of discomfort. Barks of warning. And the favorite, the welcoming howl of happiness when we returned home, conveying joy that the pack is all together again.
Perhaps what we will miss most is watching her nap. Muzzle sneering and relaxing, paws bending and twitching in her dreamy runs, we would tell stories of what in her doggie subconscious stimulates these movements; were they triggered by survival instincts from her wild canine genes?
Our dog modeled strength, hardiness and resilience – characteristics wild dogs must possess to survive. When sick or working a bone through her system, she would pace, eat grass, pace more. She seemed to know what she needed.
After so many years of love from our family dog, she inevitably stopped hearing her name, seeing thrown sticks, even feeding herself. In nature, this wild dog would not have a chance.
The last words we say to her are “thank you.” We feel gratitude for her sweet nature, for modeling the simple life, for encouraging us to go to wild places: the beach, the forest, across an open meadow, and for the love she gave to the pack.
In Memory of our dear Cascade who blessed our lives June 10, 2004 – February 22, 2018.