Every person and every animal in my life has taught me something new or reminded me of how important some of my past lessons have been. Ike is proving to be no different.
Since living here we have had many wonderful pets. Ebony (lab/setter) taught us that wild animals and pets can get along together better then we imagined. She shared her dog food with the deer and they curled up around her heated dog house on extra cold nights. She had been dumped with her mother and brother in the State Park where I worked. Mom hunting to feed the kids was one thing but when she began to teach them to hunt we had to remove them from the park. They came here as fosters while we searched for homes. A loving home was found for the well trained mother and her son and we adopted Ebony. She was with us for 4 years before being stolen, along with several other dogs in the area. She was never recovered and only one of the other dogs was recovered.
Scooter (cocker mix) was a gift left on our doorstep after Ebony disappeared. He won our hearts and taught us that even a little unassuming black dog can put on more miles and meet more people then we could ever really know. He introduced us to many of his friends when they would call the number on his tag to tell us he was visiting them. Scooter was with us for 12 years before his health failed him.
Missy was a stray American Eskimo that we adopted after fostering for 6 months. She too had a roving nature (as a result of time surviving on her own) but once she knew she had a loving home her range became smaller and her roving less often. She was a devoted family guardian and the protector of the wild geese that nest here each spring. She was also extremely loyal and loving.
Jack (Jack Russell mix) came to live with us after we'd had Missy about a year. He had been my daughter's and was only suppose to be here a short while.....Missy put up with him in the beginning but their bond grew stronger and they grew inseparable. He had short hair but refused to be in the house without Missy. Missy refused to be in the house period - too confining and likely a bit too warm for her double fur coat. They took care of each other, sleeping together in the doghouse when it was cold and when Missy's sight began to fail her Jack became her eyes and steered her around gently keeping her off the road and out of the pond.
We lost Missy a couple of years ago due to heath, age and an accident that Jack couldn't protect her from. She was 15 years old and had been with us for 13 of those years. Jack did his best on his own. He kept up their routine as best he could and we gave him the heated dog house when the weather got cooler (he still wouldn't come in the house). He would disappear for hours and I would get scared but he always came home. I suspect the two of them had a route to follow and he was keeping up that patrol but he was never the same without Missy. He missed her. She was his other half. He went away one day in December and never came home. Jack was about 12 or 13 years old himself.
We were dogless that winter and I could not believe how much advantage the deer took of us because of it. It was March when I first met Starskey and I wasn't sure I was ready for a new dog - much less a puppy - but he had a way of getting to you.....Starskey came to live with us the first week of April 2010. If you have read this blog - you know his story. He taught us so much that I can't even explain it all. I was a farm kid with all kinds of animals all of my life but not one that crawled in to my heart as deeply as he did. I think Missy and Jack started the route there and he just crawled in the rest of the way.
I watch Ike now as he sniffs everything with such care. He is meeting Scooter, Missy, Jack and Starskey through scent in the things they left behind. Sometimes he'd rather be outside wandering the yard then to be inside on his pillows. I believe that he is looking for those playmates that aren't here anymore. I still hope that we will be able to bring Starskey home so they can be friends and playmates.
I am learning from Ike that secondhand toys are way okay (I already knew that) and that just being loved and feeling safe goes a long way for a guy who was a stray and spent time in a city kennel. He is so appreciative of everything and would rather spend time laying at my feet then just about anything else on earth. Walks are fun but love is better.
I love you Ike - I have loved all of you and I miss you all too. I will tell Ike stories about you and keep looking for Starskey so that he has a partner like Jack and Missy had each other. Life does go on but I will never forget and never stop loving all of my wonderful pets