Our dog was just put down earlier today yesterday (since I wasn’t quite composed enough to finish writing this yesterday) and I wanted to write about it somehow. I wasn’t sure how, so I figured I would write some sort of memoir of her, and I decided I would write it from her perspective. Since my interactions with Harley were limited to events including, well, me, I will obviously play a major role in the narrative. Some details are fuzzy, and I obviously wasn’t there for her whole life, but I will do the best that I can recall.
I was living at a home in the mountains. There were a few other dogs there, and while things were OK, I always hoped to go somewhere where I would be more in the center of attention because there was just too many other dogs and not enough people to watch after us. I didn’t know it, but I was living at an interim home until somewhere else was found for me (although it was a nice place I must say).
I was playing with the others one day, rolling around and nipping each other, when a loud, unfamiliar boxed apparatus came up the road. Four people climbed out of their car: a fully grown man and woman, and 2 younger looking boys, probably teenagers. I, along with the other dogs, had to investigate, and we greeted them friendly enough and even played with them a little. It appeared that these new people liked me, and they continued talking with my previous owner for a while.
I wasn’t sure what was happening, but it was obvious that something big was about to happen. My previous owner seemed a little sad, and kept petting me in particular. I liked the attention, as all dogs do, but there was still something amiss. I was further confused when my previous owner helped get me into the vehicle the other 4 came in. The other 4 new people got in the car with me, and I sat in the back with the 2 teenage guys. The doors closed, and we drove off. I was frightened; I didn’t know what was going on, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t see the old place anymore.
I came to learn the names of the new people I was with. The fully grown man was named Wesley, the female; Jamie, and the 2 teenagers were called Bridger and Carson, and they were to be my new family for the rest of my life.
We arrived at their house, our house, and I was taken inside. I was still young, but I learned to love them and they loved me. Most of my life consisted of waiting for them during the day to show up in the evenings. It was kind of boring waiting at home while they were gone. I would usually just walk around and sleep during the day, waiting for them to come home. I knew the sound of their vehicle coming up the road, and I would always be waiting impatiently by the door for when they came in. It was the apex of my day since I didn’t do much else other than wait around for them. They would briefly greet me before shuffling past to put down stuff that they brought home. I would want to interact with them even more, but they would usually scold me away. That hurt a little bit since I had been eagerly waiting for them all day, but they seemed stressed, so I would try and leave them alone. They would usually come over and pet me or play with me later though, and that was always worth it, even if we only spent an hour or so together.
I don’t know where they went everyday, but they all seemed to leave for most of the day for a few days in a row, and then they would stay home a couple days. Those days on the weekend were some of my most favorite times. We would go around and go hiking up in the mountains and forests around our house if it was summer. In winter we would often play outside. They would often make balls out of the snow everywhere and throw it for me. I would try and find the balls they threw, but once it hit the ground, I really struggled to find the balls. I think I saw other dogs having this issue though, so I didn’t feel so bad.
My name was Harley, and I was a red heeler / Australian shepher. I was a medium sized dog with short hair that had a light brownish/red hue mixed with splotches of whites. My tail was snipped off when I was younger (before I ever joined the Cummings family), so it didn’t show much. What was left of my tail slightly resembled a balled up fist hanging off my behind, and when I got excited, my nub of a tail would wiggle back and forth. It was actually kind of cute. I had a leaner physique, although I did manage to get a little rounder in my later years, but nothing abnormal.
I had some other quirks about me that were endearing, and my family found funny. For one, I always ran at a slight angle. I would run in a straight line per say, but my body would be simply titled about 15% or so to the side, almost as if I was drifting like a car.
Another thing set me apart how how much I loved having air blown into my face. If you blew air in my face, I loved it and would try to bite the air. I also learned the sound that the cheap pumps that sometimes come with balloons made, and if I heard someone play with one, I would come running in hopes that you would pump air in my face. The most revered object though was the air compressor. Since Dad was a carpenter and foreman, he had many tools, including an air compressor in the garage. The air compressor made a very loud and distinct sound after getting turned on as it was compressing air, and I couldn’t resist. If I heard that device get turned on, I would run to the garage door and beg and whine. I had to get in, I wanted, no, needed someone to spray my face with it. It was truly ecstasy.
Along with the loud compressor, I also loved loud noises, even if they were from dangerous sources like fireworks or guns. There was one time that we were all hiking near our house, and the boys were shooting some guns for fun at targets. They had to hold me back since I wanted to bite the source of the gunshots. That was particularly scary since one time I actually got away from whoever was holding me, and the person shooting the gun didn’t see, so as they were shooting rapidly (since it was a semi-automatic .22), I ran up and tried to bite the barrel. Luckily nothing happened other than some panicked yelling and the discontinuation of shooting for that day. Most dogs get freaked out by loud sounds like that or by fireworks, but not me. I also loved fireworks, and since fireworks were mostly legal where where lived, the rest of my family would often by them for fun. If there were any fireworks that made loud pops or booms, I always wanted to investigate it. Similarly to how I managed to escape my restraints with the gun incident, a similar thing happened when someone threw an M-80, which is like a tiny dynamite. I ran up to the M-80, whose wick was about out, and it exploded in my face. That hurt for a few days, and my ears definitely hurt, which caused me to shake my head around a bit. We almost went to the vet over it, but I luckily got better after a few days. I never quite learned though and I would still try to check out fireworks and gunshots.
There always has to be a yang for every ying, and while there were some odd things that I loved, there was also a couple things I didn’t like. While these dislikes aren’t unusual for dogs, I was never a fan of getting my paws touched. Some dogs don’t seem to care, but I would always pull my paws away if someone touched them. On the topic of paws, I never really liked stepping anymore than paw-deep into water. In short, I was not a swimmer dog, and I definitely didn’t like submerging myself in water, which was a shame, because there were many beautiful creeks and lakes around where I used to live, but I would never really enjoy going any further than my ankles in any body of water.
I managed to get some nicknames over time as well. I still always reacted to Harley, but I learned that “Nater” and “Squirrel” were also ways of addressing me. I don’t know why they chose to call me that, but they simply did, and it seemed to catch on. Bridger particularly liked to call for me by yelling “Squirrel!” across the house when he got home in the evenings, and I would always bolt across the house to greet him at the door (if I wasn’t already there, because his old Jeep could be heard from half a mile away).
Life more or less carried along as it would for a dog; I ate, pooped, wanted to play, and enjoyed going out for walks, although I was not a fan of the water.
One of my earliest memories was when I was still young, and I would often go into Bridger’s room while he was absorbed on his computer. I particularly like Bridger’s room because he would let me lay on his bed while he was in there. I don’t know why, maybe I got too excited, or maybe I was getting too comfortable, but while I was laying on his bed one evening, I accidentally started peeing. Bridger eventually noticed and rightfully kicked me out of the room for the night. I don’t know why I couldn’t hold it in while laying on his bed, as I didn’t really have issues otherwise, but I made the same mistakes again, and I was sadly never allowed on Bridger’s bed again.
I was young though, and maybe it was because I was separated too early before I went to the first home I lived at before I joined the Cummings’ house, but I liked to suck on a teddy bear I had. I would sometimes just take my teddy bear to a corner, lay down on my stomach, put the teddy bear between my fore-legs, and slightly cross my legs to keep the teddy bear in place, and then I would suck on the teddy bear. And I don’t mean like lightly nibble on it. I would full on envelope the teddy bear with my mouth, and just suck on it, letting my doggy drool saturate the entire teddy bear, and sometimes the ground underneath. I would even make movement like I was choking, but I was just sucking on that teddy bear like nobody’s business. Eventually someone would take it from me and let it dry, because it did get kind of nasty after being completely saturated in doggy-drool. After a while though, someone eventually threw it out for good, and I was never given another stuffed animal again.
Otherwise, I always happily played fetch and sometimes tug of war. I remember one time when Carson and Bridger got a giant Frisbee that was about a meter wide. They were throwing it between each other with me attempting to get it, much like monkey-in-the-middle. After a while, one of them messed up and I managed to bite the edge of it, and I didn’t let go. Carson and Bridger even picked me up off the ground by lifting up the Frisbee, but I didn’t want to let go of this amazingly huge Frisbee. I would also enjoy just simply playing and wrestling around. Bridger would sometimes make a roaring sound and lift his arms up in the air, and I would drop the front part of my body on the ground with my butt still sticking up, ready to pounce or run, and I would usually take off and run through the house or yard before coming back to him, and he would try and catch me as I ran by. Sometimes we would connect, and we would roughhouse and I would sometime lightly bite his arms as he kept trying to touch the side of my face. It was a silly, but simple and fun game we played.
Other times I would play with Luke, the dog from up the street. He was also part of the Cummings family since he was with Jeff, who was Dad’s brother. We had enough fun together as well, and Luke was pretty fun, although a bit more energetic than I at some times.
I would do other dog things as well when I was younger like trying to bury bones that I was given. If I was in the house, as was often the case in winters, I would try and bury bones I received in the house. I never actually dug a hole in the ground, but I would always try and find a place for my bone with the bone still in my mouth by rubbing my nose on the carpet, looking for a place where it moved and I could therefore dig a hole. The carpet never really moved to the side like dirt though, so I just kept rubbing my nose on the carpet until my nose became raw and bled, so I was eventually no longer given bones either in order to prevent that.
A few years passed at the cumming house, and we had a couple new additions to the Cummings family: Pierce, and then Wesley (junior). Dad and Mom had a couple children, and I was very attentive with them. I was always a very gentle dog, and I always treated the kids very well, and they were also fun to play with. Since I was a red heeler, I was a dog bred for herding, and when the kids would run (or even the adults for that matter) I would often try to nip at their heels and herd them around. It was sometimes funny to eventually get all of the independently running humans to converge into one running group since I herded them to do so. Since I was a herding dog, I was also really compelled to herd wildlife that was sometimes around us. One time we drove by an elk refuge, and the others pointed out the elks to me. It took a minute before I saw them, but I couldn’t stop whining and shaking with anticipation. I just had to get out of the car and herd them, but the others never let me. Another time we were driving through the canyon, and we pulled over to observe some mountain goats on the mountain. Again, it took a few seconds before I spotted them, but once I did, you can bet I was just shaking to get out of the car and do my calling and herd those goats, but alas, my family was responsible and wouldn’t let me out of the car.
Bridger didn’t come home so often anymore. I guess as he got older, he was staying at other friends’ houses. There was one evening though when he was at home with us when he found out that his mom died, the first thing he wanted to do was go out on a walk with me, and I was glad to go out with him. I didn’t really understand the implications of what the death of his mom meant, but Bridger was unhappy, and I calmly went out with him. We went out for a long walk at night along the road to the forest, and when Bridger just sat on the side of the road, I came up and sat by him, hoping to comfort him, and he held me real close. I would like to think that I helped cheer Bridger up a little bit by just being there for him when he was unhappy.
Bridger left a little later though, and I was to understand that he moved away to go to a place called “University,” and I wouldn’t see him very much after that.
While he was gone, we got another addition to the Cummings family: Oakley. Oakley was a little shit. She was some young puppy who was just too damn hyper and was always up to no good. Mom and Dad had to set up fences around our property to keep him in, so what did he do? He dug underneath the fence and kept getting out. He also chewed on everything, including the bench to Bridger’s piano, which really upset Bridger. Oakley just wouldn’t ever improve his behavior or listen, so he was eventually returned. I, on the other hand, was very calm and well mannered, and I always listened to orders.
We also got a cat named Ash after a while. She was an outdoor cat, so Bridger didn’t see too much of her (which is why he doesn’t have so much to write about Ash… for now).
We eventually got a duck too: Duck (yes, the duck’s name was Duck). The duck was cool, and we would sometimes play together. Sometimes Dad would even say things like “Get the duck Harley” and I would playfully bite the duck’s neck. Dad would then say things like “Get Harley, Duck”, and the duck would proceed to lightly jab me with its beak. It was all in good fun.
Carson also eventually left, and I was to understand that he was on something called a “mission.” I didn’t see either of them for many years, and I definitely missed them.
After many years of living in Wyoming, everyone else started packing. Something big was going on. There was a decision to move, and everyone needed to go somewhere. The rest of my family was moving to Arizona for work, but they weren’t able to take me. That is why I went with Jamie to visit Bridger a few hours away, where I guess he had been living for the most part the past couple of years. Since Bridger was visiting the Midwest, he then took me further to Iowa, a place we have visited before, so I wasn’t so worried about it. It was a stressful drive though because we also went with Ash, and Ash didn’t take the ride so well. He was supposed to be given some pills to make him drowsy and sleep, but they didn’t work so well, so he just kept meowing. Furthermore, the fabric cage he was in didn’t resist claws so well, so he eventually clawed his way out of the travel cage. Bridger would pull over and push him back in the cage and duct tape it closed again, but it eventually became too much, so Bridger just let the cat roam free in his Jeep, and things actually got much better then because Ash simply cuddled up with me, and we rode the 15 or so hour drive to Iowa in relative peace.
Ash went to a different house, and I went to Mom’s Dad’s house, where I lived for about a year or so before Dad, Mom, Pierce and Wesley came to visit me again and brought me to their new house in Iowa, since the recently moved here as well. I don’t know why they were gone so long, but I was just happy to see them again, although I still hadn’t seen Bridger or Carson for a while, and I was missing them.
We then got another addition to the family. Kya is a smaller dog that now lives with the Cummings, but since Bridger hasn’t actually met her yet, he can’t really comment on her, but pictures of us seem to make it look like we get along with each other well enough.
I was happy with the new dog and most of my family again, but I sure did miss Bridger and Carson, and I wish I could have seen them again.
Bridger did sometimes try talking to me via Skype, and while he managed to see me, I never quite got the concept of people on screens it seemed, so I never really got to see Bridger via the laptop that Dad was always hovering in front of my face. But I am sure I could always hear him yelling “Squirrel!”, I just couldn’t pin down that his voice was coming from the laptop whenever he called.
All good things must come to an end though, and I recently started feeling quite sick. I would go days without eating, I would sometimes vomit, and I would also go days without getting up correctly. Dad and Mom were going to take me to the vet for something called a “one way trip”, but I managed to get up and walk around, so got some painkillers to help me instead though.
A few days passed, but I wasn’t faring much better. I was taken to the vet again, and I got to learn what a one way trip really was. The vet did something to me, and I started to get sleepy. My eyes slowly closed, and it would be the last time I ever closed my eyes.
I am sure that when Bridger next visits the USA, he will come to see where I am buried in the forest.
I wish I could have seen Harley once more. She was such a cool dog….
I always wished I could have taken her with me when I moved away from home, but I just was never in a position to watch over her, and I don’t think my dad and the others would have wanted to give her up anyways.
She was hurting lately, so I just hope she isn’t suffering anymore, and that she is in a better place. I wish I could have run, or even cuddled with her just one last time.