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reflections on some lineages of the human condition

Forever in Our Hearts – Loki

Forever in Our Hearts – Loki
This is the piece I wrote to be published in the “Forever in Our Hearts” section of the September, 2013 issue of the quarterly magazine, the Leo Letter (the official publication of the Leonberger Club of America)
To write about our magnificent communicator, Loki, requires me to use words, which of course Loki could never produce. But that never stopped him from understanding our words and all of our other ways of communicating, both consciously and unconsciously, and of communicating his thoughts and feelings back to us
In the days since his death, in between my audible sobs and silent tears, I have also smiled and even laughed about our Loki-boy. We had many affectionate names for him: Lokenberger, Puppy Boy, Buddy, Sweet Boy, Lok-man.  Looking over some of the many pictures I have of him brings back so many memories of experiences we shared.
We did a little showing when he was younger, but that did not seem to be his thing (and I could not bear even the slightest criticism of my “perfect” boy). We also tried sheep herding, tracking, and carting, and while Loki was genuinely excited to leap into the car for those excursions, I think what he really loved best about those activities was simply the quality time we spent together doing them.
And that’s where his almost supernatural communication abilities came in. First of all, he had a direct line to tap into the heart of each one of his family members. With my husband, who is retired and was the key person in Loki’s daily life while I was at work, Loki “did lunch” every day, reminding him when the two hands of the clock were pointing toward twelve. For my older son Erik, who loved long, athletic walks at dusk among the trails through the old growth forest in Point Defiance Park, Loki was a woodland explorer. On one such excursion (this one in broad daylight), Loki and Erik came upon four drunk twenty-somethings ahead of them on the trail right near a steep ravine. Loki took no chances and, for one of the only times in his life, he growled thunderously at the group, showing off those impressively huge fangs. “Hey man, is that a guard dog?” one of them asked nervously. With delight, Erik boldly lied and said “Yes” and they took off.
For my younger son Anders, and his wife Bev (Loki’s “special person” ever since she first came into Anders’ life), Loki was a goofball who loved their exuberance, especially when they took him to a nearby gravel beach on Puget Sound and buried him up to his neck in sandy gravel, laughing all the way. Loki laughed too.
For me, Loki’s communication skills ranged from the unbelievable to the downright eerie. Like many smart dogs, he knew the meaning of many words, and for those words we dared not say but spelled instead (“ice cream”, “Bev”, and “car” in particular), it took him very little time to figure out what we were trying to spell by the time he heard the first two or three letters. As for the eerie, how did he know, correctly, every time, that it was Bev who was on the other end of the phone call, calling to be picked up when she arrived from Seattle at the downtown bus station? He slept next to me every night from the day we got him until his last full day on earth. On those very rare occasions when he had to go out in the middle of the night, he would come over to me and simply stand next to my face, and that presence alone would wake me up. No extra effort was needed by Loki to make noise to communicate. He just knew how to do it by his powerful presence alone.
I guess that’s what is occupying my thoughts so much now. We do not have a necropsy report yet, so nobody knows exactly what took his life at the Emergency Animal Clinic after we brought him in following a worrisome “difference” in his behavior. Upon further reflection, however, I think he was trying to tell me something days earlier. Not exactly a Velcro dog before this – Loki loved everybody, each according to his or her own wavelength – he was gradually becoming one in the week or two before his death, staying very close to me everywhere I went in the house or yard. Because of his difficulty getting his hindquarters up and down, I would hate to see him get up from a lying-down position just to follow me downstairs if I were only going downstairs to get something and would be right back up again, but he would insist. In any case, because of his “different” behavior, which got progressively more worrisome that last night, those of us in his family who were able to do so each got to spend a private half hour with him, gently telling him how much we loved him and, in effect, saying good-bye.
Did you know before we did, sweet Loki-boy, that you were going to leave us? Was the subtlety of your communication – wordless, voiceless, soundless – one last expression of the magnificence of your presence, which needed no other amplification? Rest in peace, Loki! We will love you forever.
Loki at the LCNW Specialty, March 21, 2005

Loki at the LCNW Specialty, March 21, 2005

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