It is the 31. of July 2017, and this early morning around 6:45 my dog died in my arms.
One Winter day in 2006 I ventured a few miles out of Fairbanks and picked up a little german shepherd. We had just moved to Alaska a few months before, and lived in a cabin near Ester with our two little daughters. We named him Ivan.
Shortly after, I started working at the Artisan’s Courtyard close to the University of Alaska, as an artistic coordinator. My boss was fantastic. She had built a beautiful office for me inside the existing lobby area, and had it painted in warm tones of dark plum, light driftwood and darkest violet which appeared almost black. I turned it into a little haven which Ivan shared with me almost every day for several years. Girls visiting the ballet classes would often arrive early with their moms, to spend some time with him. Ivan had been told many stories during those days, and never lost patience. He must have liked fairytales and little girls smelling like candy.
In the early months, we would have to step out of the cabin at all hours of the night, since he had to go potty often. Potty training doesn’t care if it is -30 degrees. Many times I would stand outside in my pajama’s with the arctic parka thrown over it, and watched the northern lights while little Ivan in his fleece booties finished his business. When he was a puppy, I always thought he looked a little like Alf from that 80’s kids-show. I would tell him that, and he would tilt his little head with the floppy ears, and look at me with his beautiful brown eyes, listening carefully to every word I said.
Ivan was my shadow from the first day on, and we didn’t part much. He was our protector, my best friend, my companion. We took care of each other, and explored the world around us on long walks through the woods along the river.
The seasons would come and go, and with it some changes, but Ivan would never be far from me. He didn’t like being left behind, and was a master in pouting when I didn’t take him on very cold or hot days to run errands. We would often drive to Denali, before or after the tourist season, and just hike some trails, or sit and look at the mountains. He loved the snow and would clear the trail for us many times, running and jumping in front of me like a big, furry snowplow.
One day I’d take the bike, and have him one the leash running next to me, when he saw a rabbit on the opposite side of the road, made a run for it, and I flew straight over the handlebar. I was just as graceful as he was, and there had been more than one close call when it came to falling of off moving objects, glacier river banks or simply stumbling over my own feet. Ivan could smell a moose from a mile away, and I would know we’d better walk the other direction. There has not been a day over the past 11 years where he was not on my mind in one way or the other.
It is the 31. of July of 2017, and this early morning around 6:45 my dog died in my arms. He was 11 years old. Yesterday he ventured once more outside, and we sat together in the warm breeze, he even took one treat. When we were inside he looked at me from underneath the table, and I kneeled in front of him, and I knew it was time.
I said: ” I know, Ivan. I know. I am here. I am not going anywhere. I love you.”
My husband and I slept downstairs with a candle, to provide dim light, and watched over him through the night. He had pain medication, and we tried to make him as comfortable as we could through the hours. He was old, and he was tired, and he was hurting. The day he came into our lives with his floppy ears and his kind eyes, nothing was ever the same anymore. His unconditional love humbled me, and I hope he is loved wherever his sweet soul traveled. Good night my boy, I love and miss you. Love and Light , Simone