I planted a Chinese dogwood tree last Sunday with the help of my family and some friends. We planted it in memory of my daughter’s dog, Heffner, who died of lymphoma on the first day of May, 2014. After Sunday lunch, we walked into the front yard and found a good spot. I dug the hole and sat the tree in it. Erin, my daughter, took Heffner’s ashes from a box the Vet had given her, and carefully scooped a few of his remains into the hole and then we covered the hole with dirt. And then I prayed that we would be given the strength to move forward and to celebrate and cherish his memory.
Erin and Heffner had been together for almost eight years. He was just two months or so old when he went to live with her. Through the years, he had been her constant companion, greeting her each morning when the alarm clock rang, seeing her off to work, and meeting her at the door when she came home. They watched Lifetime movies on the couch at night, played a version of hide and seek, ate meals together, laughed together, and cried together. She shared her secrets with him and he never told anyone. He was a good friend. He never let her down.
Heffner loved water. Most dogs don’t like to be bathed but to Heffner a bath was a treat. Erin once took Heffner to a pond that she and a few of her friends rented for an hour. Heffner was the first dog into the pond and the last dog out of the pond.
At the dog park, Heffner ignored the other dogs in favor of the doggie swimming pool or any water source. He would gather or steal all loose tennis balls and sit with them in the pool of water or mud.
On my desk, I have the tennis balls that Heffner and I played with the last time he was at our house. He was sick and taking chemo treatments and losing his hair, but he still ran after those tennis balls for all he was worth. I suppose those tennis balls will be somewhere on my desk for as long as I have my desk.
Heffner loved to eat and I loved watching him eat. Erin thought that I over fed him and I suppose that I did (he gained weight each time he stayed with us). One Christmas he took his eating too far. We were attending the Christmas Eve service at Church, and Heffner used that opportunity to raid the trash can. He found a large ham bone, carried it upstairs to the master bedroom, placed the ham bone on our bed, found a favorite toy, took it to our bedroom, climbed up on our bed and feasted on his ham bone for several hours. This story is told and retold every Christmas and is now part of family legend.
There are a thousand stories that we could all tell about Heffner. He touched all of our lives, in a good way. And now we have his ashes and the dogwood tree to remind us of his life and the spirit with which he lived his life.
We will all miss him.