An Ode to Missing Setters Who Have Walked Me

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
An Ode to Missing Setters Who Have Walked Me
You came into my life whimpering as a puppy. After you jumped into the back seat joyfully anticipating a ride, you did not know this trip would be to your earthly forever home.

But as the sun went lower on the Michigan earth, you sensed and whimpered about those you would no longer see. The mom, dad and siblings were left behind. You did not know they soon would be separated too, as your owner pulled up stakes for the Oregon Trail

I climbed in the back seat to ease your whimpering. It would be a long drive. You seemed content while I stayed there with you.

“Did you have to bring a horse,” mom uttered upon seeing the first of your red mane bound into the room. Although you shared a home with cats, you did not care. You had a couch , a bed or a chair upon which to snooze.

Danny shared the car with Donald. He would drive. You would claim the entire back seat. You quickly began bleeding green --- you loved the squirrels, the stolen ice cream cones, and a co-eds tennis shoes for which she came running from behind to reclaim. That was a time when anyone who requested received a stress breaker by patting your head. Everyone complemented your beauty and called you a ‘pup,’ at 100 plus pounds.

One night I half turned in sprawled on a bed in my room. You came yelping, squirming and shoving determined that I answer your call. You did not lead me to the back door, instead, you lead me to one mostly shut. A faint voice asked for “help” and on the other side dad fought a losing battle to stop a bleeding vein from his sore leg.

EMS arrived and you stood your ground. You saved a life, but then later, I didn’t know how to save yours.

Times became more difficult once dad flew away. He joined the other setters walking them from the bridge to Heaven’s gate --- oh, and that one mixed breed Husky who would never stay in the yard. We couldn’t go chase squirrels as no one would drive us to the green campus. You used to be groomed every few months or so. You’d come romping in with two ribbons tied in your soft, red hair. No one to drive meant less trips to the salon.

Your time kept creeping, but you weren’t ready to leave. You had a limp from your hind legs. You climbed the three steps without a word and you bounced onto the mattress of the bed. If I didn’t get sleepy early, you sometimes wouldn’t move. Awake you I did. But once, knowing you hurt, I made room on the other side and drifted to dreamland with your head on my pillow.

More often, you climbed in and cuddled, kept me warmer than heat. You had this habit of wanting to lick at my feet. And, when I wanted to roll over in mental pain, you stuck your head onto my pillow and gently licked at my face. OK, you win. We’d go get the Milk Bones.

It came to pass that your leaping grew less and less strong. You mostly stayed in the floor next to the bed, but occasionally , I came in to find you cuddled on the quilt, just waiting for me to take you another walk.

I could not make the choice. It had to be yours. I still don’t understand mom’s statement, he threw up and seems sick. You couldn’t get comfortable on that final night. I wanted to carry you to the bed, but couldn’t lift you up. I didn’t sleep. I kept checking on you. And, you behaved like a setter, just old and grey, who had digested a bit of meaty smelling cat poo. I thought you’d be cool afterwards.

You revived that afternoon sitting up on your haunches. I thought you were well. I thought you ate that Milk Bone. Later, I found it on the carpet. After you laid back down, you seemed peacefully sleeping. Little did I know that your irish soul was slipping away.

Alas, the vet seemed so certain, ‘bring him in’ … there was not an urgency in his voice. Then, I thought I heard a wheeze. I started calling, but no one wanted to drive a big now smelling setter to an animal E.R. One, who walks with a limp, helped carry you to his car.

I put you gently in the back seat. You still seemed to breathe. We raced for the place, but it wasn’t there. Turn around and there it was, but you were next in line, Danny Boy. While I filled out the papers , they told me you had gone. “Sorry they would say.”

The animal technicians told me they had been a little unsure. One heard a beat. Another did not. But both seemed put off by a putrid smell. You had been losing control. Guess in the dark they could not tell.

I requested a bag, something to cover your head. I don’t remember the drive back. Just to keep you cool until early the next morn. I still feel bad that the spot was not befitting royalty. That would come once the truck took you for placement across the Mighty Ohio. You joined another…. one who had insulin daily until he finally went blind. Danny and Brian together.

My heart still aches for that brush against the bed. For the bouncing red stubborn setter asking for a trip even out in the snow. You came from Michigan, the drifts didn’t bother you. But the heat of southern WV kept you lying on the AC in the summer.

Why didn’t I hold you as we rode down to the ER? Why didn’t I sense you needed a vet ride earlier? Now, there’s nothing left except hairs you shed. Two kittens wander by wanting to rub against you. And, the quilt sometimes when it’s wrinkled , I think it’s your head.

I look for something I did not know I had. You patiently waited until I was free. You didn’t complain if I had to leave you behind. You had a kitty or two to curl up by you. Two come in and look for you still. Even, mom, uttered the “I miss you” phrase. But no unconditional loves embrace me, except faint thoughts of those in Heaven and upon the Bridge where the sky is filled with rainbows of colors, green pastures, and squirrels. Let dad walk you, Brian, Sage, Sam, and Bullet until I arrive.

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