Patsy and Montana found each other on 12 April 1996. Montana's endless energy, big ears and paws, bushy tail, big brown eyes, sharp bark and expressive face made him unique to everyone who crossed his life, no matter how briefly that time was. Montana loved to chase things: squirrels, cats, sea gulls, other dogs, balls, sticks, rocks, big sticks, cattle, people, children thrown into the air, bigger sticks. He also heroically protected his family against vacuum cleaners, band saws, electric drills, hair clippers, and fire crackers. Possibly his favorite game was "get away from the car" - he would bark and snarl and press against the glass in opposition to anyone too close. It made for an effective security deterrent and allowed us not to worry about the car's safety at a number of occasions.
For years Montana had a nickel-cadmium canine crown that was promised to last longer then he did. We proved that dental vet wrong after an afternoon of "fetch that big rock from under two feet of ocean water" in a sheltered Chuckanut cove near Bellingham in 2006. Montana was a water dog, loved swimming and the beach, and would protest leaving by waiting until the last moment chest deep in the waves as we would walk away. He was an enthusiastic trail running and backcountry skiing partner, fond of the straightest line between points A and B - switchbacks were for the weak.
Montana left us yesterday, at home, in Patsy's lap. He was 13. We miss him already.
The House Dog's Grave (Haig, an English bulldog)
I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.
So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.
I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.
But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read--and I fear often grieving for me--
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.
You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope than when you are lying
Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dear, that's too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been.
And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .
But to me you were true.
You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.
Robinson Jeffers, 1941