June. My soul dog.

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In 2003 my husband and I were living in Colorado. We longed for a dog that would enjoy hiking the majestic mountains and swimming in the crystal blue lakes. At the city animal shelter we happened upon our June. She was quietly sitting in her kennel, with eyes as soulful as the full moon. A plain black dog. Breed a mixture of lab and who knew. Fast forward and she became our dog. June was loyal and funny and obedient. The dog we all dream of. For years we did hike and swim and take car rides all over Colorado, Utah, and the magnificent west. The plain black dog that captured everyone’s hearts. She became a certified therapy dog and we walked the halls of nursing homes bringing joy into the lives of the residents.

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In 2009 my husband was diagnosed with cancer. June laid with him each day and often through the night as he suffered the ravages of the disease. At his funeral June sat stoically by my side. A large photo and a guitar propped on the podium along with this ashes. As the minister spoke June quietly walked up to him and let out a visible sigh as she laid close to the urn. When the minister stopped and the music began June returned to my side. She stared straight ahead. As a veteran my husband was awarded military honors. The shots fired and the flag was unfolded and folded with snap precision. June remained still watching the soldiers and the urn. As the soldier laid the flag on my lap through my tears I saw June raise her right paw and gently placed it on the flag. Somehow she understood she would never see her person again.

Then, in early 2011 after caring for me with every step I walked through grief, June was diagnosed with bone cancer and her right front leg was removed. By then 2 other rescued dogs joined my pack. One, already a tripod from bone cancer and the other an old deaf girl with with spinal arthritis. June became their caregiver as well.

Coming home to the North Shore of Massachusetts in May of 2015 we all moved east. June discovered the love of her east coast family. As magnificent as the mountains are, the ocean called us home. As the pack passed away, it was again June who remained to continue to take care of me. It’s the common phrase “who rescued who” and in my case we rescued each other.

June aged, developed breathing problems and horrifically died in my arms after a traumatic event. I think of her each day, dream of her each night. I see her face in the full moon that glows over the water. I know she is always watching over me.

Brenda Riddell