Even though my husband and I had both grown up with dogs, we had postponed getting one ourselves, due to moves. Then, one summer, during an extended camping tour with the kids, our youngest must have been eight at the time, we stayed at a small rustic campground in Poland’s northern lake district. The owner of the place owned several dogs, one of which had two puppies frolicking about. Of course our boys were instantly drawn to these two cute little bundles of fur and couldn’t get enough playing with them. The puppies ended up sleeping between the inner and outer shell of our tent at night.
When the time had come to pack up and leave for home my husband, following a spur of the moment inspiration, asked the owner about the puppies. Apparently, she had been looking for good homes to give them to. Within seconds she came to the car that was parked at the exit, the boys in the back bracing for a long dull day on the road, and dropped the little black pup in a shoe box on their laps. This was the beginning of a life-long love-affair.
But that wasn’t all. With Azor, all of us got regular practice in life lessons unintentionally. What better way for a young child to learn commitment and dedication than by sticking to a daily routine of walking the dog? What better way for a young child to learn patience than by teaching him to sit up and give a paw? What better way for all of us to learn that giving is receiving than by spending time with a dog and receiving its unfailing friendship in return?
We’ll miss our little Azor, for yesterday he died of old age after 16 years of unabated companionship. My son Jesse and I buried him in the backyard earlier this afternoon. Jesse, who was ten when the shoebox was dropped onto the boys' laps that sunny morning, said he couldn’t really remember a time when Azor hadn’t been there. And so it is for me.
By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack….