Goodbye Best Friend

//Goodbye Best Friend

Goodbye Best Friend

What did I want
All those years ago
When you chose me, we?


Holes patched? In ships
here, ships lost at sea?

Holes patched in me?

And what did you want
My soon-to-be best friend?
When I said yes?


A home where heart could be?
Could beat?

And what now dear friend?
As your ship slips away?

Hearts are flung, stung
But I feel more seaworthy now
From your gift of life
A whole life
Spent sailing with me.

We choose dogs or they choose us or perhaps it is a mutual thing. Their adorableness quickly elevates them within the family, sometimes higher than our most beloved of beloveds, possibly because the way they communicate – bark, whine, tail-wiggle, eye contact – leaves little room for argument or miscommunication. A dog and his/her master have a relationship that transcends mere words. Often the pair spend more time together than the dog’s person spends with any other mere mortal.

True love. Such is what my son Jay had with his 10-year-old Lab Dallas, whom he lost last week to cancer. Dallas was a happy, friendly, blonde boy eager for adventure and, true to his breed, always seeking out bodies of water of various sizes to plop into.

Dallas was pretty lucky in his choice of Jay as master. He got to spend the first half of his life here in southwestern Ontario, romping Grand Bend’s beach, chasing – and getting sprayed by – numerous skunks in London, chasing deer here and there as well, and often hiking the Thames River trails with me. The second half of his life was spent hiking grander trails and beaches with Jay, his sister Randelle and their numerous friends, in and around Vancouver, BC. Dallas even managed, on one of his health rallies after he was diagnosed, to get in a bear chase!

When I asked Jay what he is missing most he said it was this look up and back Dallas would give him, as they walked along, sans leash, as though asking, “We good?”

“Through it all,” Jay wrote on Instagram this weekend, “this view (the look) always provided me with encouragement. (It was always) Letting me know that we were on the right path. Telling me that what we were looking to find was always attainable. Words cannot express all that you taught me, Dally. You were the best friend a guy could have ever asked for and I count my lucky stars the little white one chose me.

“. . . your persistent smile inspired. Thanks to you Dallas, for showing me the way time and again. So long best friend.”

It really sucks that dogs’ lives generally comprise just a small percentage of that of their master. But the way dogs love, with their whole heart, and the many lessons they teach – patience, commitment, sheer joy for life and pure expression of what freedom looks like – must be enough to see us through.

Website picture is from May, 2017, hiking the Chief in BC. Clockwise: Liz, me, Randy, Dallas and Jay.



  1. Marilyn Avent October 3, 2018 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    We have had to say goodbye to 3 of our family dogs over the year. Each one of them made a lasting impression on us and we wouldn’t give up our wonderful memories we have of them for anything. Yes, the end is terribly sad and you grieve for them but in time the good memories outweigh the bad. Hugs to Jay.

    • Rita Hartley October 4, 2018 at 8:41 am - Reply

      Thank you so much Marilyn and condolences to you on the loss of three (ouch) best friends this year. Our furry buddies just make life so much more fun don’t they?

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