I had read a lot about livestock guardian dogs and was wary of this big white dog. He jumped into the back of my canopy and I closed him in. The owner got his 100 dollars and I got one of the best investments I have ever made.
My other dogs were not guardians or even real guard dogs, but they were beautiful long haired rough collies. Unfortunately both met their demise on the highway and Petey, a Maremma cross something, was likely shot by the neighbour who had unspayed females. I kept Harley tied up at first on the recommendation of the previous owner, at least until he knew where his new home was. Then I let him go.
Harley was a loving, kind, friendly dog. He knew how to shake a paw and loved to lounge on the porch and sleep all day, but when night brought the prowlers, he went to work. He fought off predators alone and was often bleeding and bitten and I knew he had to get help fast. Charka was already here, another livestock guardian, but he was just a pup and Harley had to teach him the ropes, which he did. The two dogs were best friends for life then. Today Charka is sad and quiet and wants to be by my side. We are comforting each other.
Harley had a way of coming up between one's legs like an instant ride on pony. He liked the surprise of it all and would wag his tail, all proud of himself when he was in that position. He was a leaner too, preferring to let me know he was there by leaning on me, just in case I might forget. I loved that dog!
Harley taught the other dogs how to fight too and soon Mikey became the boss dog as Harley fell back into second and then last place as he aged. He did not mind so much. Let the young ones handle it was likely what he was thinking. After all, they had been taught by the best!
But Harley was quiet these last few weeks. I felt as though he was letting go. He did not come for pets, or lean on me just to let me know he was there. He was tired and wanted to come in the porch where no one would bother him and he would not hear the call of the wild and be prompted to work. He was dying.
I cannot put into words my love for Harley. His end is the beginning of the end of a chapter of my life too. I am selling the farm and moving on, but my dogs have been my greatest heart tug. How could I abandon them after they have risked their lives for me? The truth is, I cannot. But Harley, well, he had his time. His life here was exceptional. My love for him was too.
I laid with him, stroking his big head, his eyes closed and his body motionless. I told him how much he meant to me, how much I loved him, how grateful I was for his presence in my life and I grieved to know he will not be with me anymore. I knew it was him time.
But he was not gone in the morning and wanted to go outside. I have not seen him since that moment, watching him go about his business and then he was here no more. Did he go into the bush to die? It has been 2 days since he last graced my presence. My heart does not feel him here anymore and with many tears streaming down my face, I know my life was so much better with him in it. I miss him so much.
I loved you Harley. If dogs go to Heaven, I am sure you are there welcomed with open arms and I know we will meet again. Til then, my old friend....