We are saying farewell to our dog Willow, who was a friend and very much a part of our family. Back when we first moved to Belleisle, I was lucky to find such a good dog from a nearby shelter. She was about a year old at the time and was just waiting to have fun with our young family. In time, we figured out that she was part Malamute and Border Collie and was very smart, taking to training well.
The kids grew up with her being around as we took Willow everywhere with us. She even herded the kids every now and then when they went too close to the road. She loved running on the trails behind our house and we’d often catch her out of breath coming back from her morning run. She also had an affinity for rolling rocks around with her nose, and in the winter, trying to make large snowballs with her front paws. We would be entertained with all the different displays from her endless energy.
With all that energy to burn, Willow was also an excellent hiking dog. She followed me all over, through rock and water, snow or mud. Whether I biked or hiked, Willow kept along. A few times even after 30 kilometres of travelling, she stayed with me. She even accompanied us kayaking a few times, just wanting to swim.
A couple fun stories about her: The picture below on the top right was taken the night she helped me out of the woods one evening. I had left the house on a supposedly easy biking trip, got turned around in the woods only a half hour from my house while trying to skip a blocked section of trail. I had taken a short cut hiking through the woods (with no compass – bad, bad). After I spent half an hour wandering in a direction which I thought was the way out, I realized I was lost. Just as I had resigned to wait the night out in the woods and face the music in the morning of being unprepared that evening, Willow turned around and started walking along in the opposite direction! Willow knew her way and showed me by returning back to the original trail. I had Sheena take a picture to remind me of my poor choices and thankfulness for the companion that night.
Another time, we were biking nearby home and we came across a big black bear eating berries. The bear didn’t see us and Willow ran up to it and barked so loudly at the bear, all the hair on the bear’s back moved in shock and it scared off into the woods. The funny thing is, so did Willow — and took off in the opposite direction on the trail after she saw the size of the bear! I called her and called her to come back to me and we eventually kept on biking. But after that and for the next hour, every twig that cracked under my tires, poor Willow jumped in the air. I was thankful that she had that protective instinct whether she knew it or not.
There are many more stories about her that we will all remember.
Below is easily my favorite picture of her, taken by my friend Kris on one of our long hikes to upper Mary Pitcher Falls, New Brunswick. Willow certainly was a great companion to all of us.