It’s been well over a year since the wonderful Dr. Megan Coveyou dropped everything to come and help us when our beloved Fender was suddenly sick, struggling, and after rushing him to our trusted regular vet, it was revealed he beyond rescue. We brought him back home so everyone could say goodbye, and we held him and told him how much we love him as he faded away in his bed. I thought the tears would never stop. And here they are again as I write this. We still miss him sorely. Even our three-year-old son often talks about him spontaneously and it both warms and breaks my heart. After losing a dog like him, especially so abruptly, I imagine it will be many more years before the tears and ache of his absence subsides whenever he comes to mind.Fender was one of a kind – for his heart, his joy, and his sweet, playful, and loving spirit. He started out as a “clearance” pup who had sat “for sale” in the pet section of a gardening store for 4 months, probably bred in some nasty puppy mill before being shuttled to the store and advertised as a designer mutt for profit. Not surprisingly, not many people wanted to pay top dollar for an Australian Shepherd/Heeler mix, and with his energy level and drive, the longer he sat, the more challenging he became, and the lower his price dropped. After watching him for months, I went to pick up some plants and potting soil, and I could take it no longer. I finally asked to meet the little black blur whizzing back and forth behind all the cage windows because he had outgrown his own space. Seeing the big red “CLEARANCE” mark on his dirty empty cage, I couldn’t bear the thought of someone taking him home just because he was cheap and him landing in a shelter shortly after. He was jumping all over me, tongue lolling from his overexcitement, puppy teeth falling out and bleeding all over my forearms as he mouthed me, “WOW” I thought, what a firecracker. But then I picked him up. The little nut melted entirely in my arms. With a big sigh, he became limp as a noodle – aside from the gentle slurps on my cheek.

It was a done deal right there. For the next eight and a half years he was the best sidekick to my husband and I. Through a cross country move, three more moves once we landed here in Colorado, more miles hiked than I could ever have tracked, camping trips, agility classes, boating, basically any adventure we could concoct, he was up for it. And if we weren’t on an adventure, he was just as happy to snuggle up on the couch, always making sure his little bottom was smushed up against you, just making sure you knew he was there. He was so gracious to his puppy brother, then his human brother who arrived after that. He was indescribably intuitive and soothing to be around. Escaping to the trail with Fender was absolutely my best therapy and mental refresh when needed. He was an expert in slowing down, taking it all in, and always coming to sit by my side and just be there. He was so special. The support, laughter, and love he offered is beyond what words could describe. We were so blessed to have him in our family, just so sad it ended too soon. He was hiking with me up until the day before we lost him, so I at least take a lot of comfort in knowing he was able to live life so fully, just the way he loved to do. We love and miss you Fender friender. You were the bestest boy and despite our broken hearts, we will be forever grateful for your love and presence in our life.