A day and one night ago, our beloved dog, Lefty, left this earth for doggie heaven. It was a sudden departure my family and I were not ready for. I was not ready for him to pass on because I was convinced he was going to live forever. I was convinced I would have the time to say my final words of love and loyalty to him as I did with our other dog, Ca$h, who passed on earlier this year. To put it simply, I am devastated. I am heartbroken. I am grieving for one of my best friends who protected me night and day. He was always so happy to see my family and I when we returned home from work or a visit to the family on the Navajo Nation. Let me tell you how we met and fell in love with Lefty.
When my husband and I began dating, he already lived with a blue-heeler mix named Ca$h who he had adopted from a local animal shelter, Second Chance Center for Animals when he was a wee pup. After two years, my husband and I tired daily of keeping Ca$h entertained because he had so much energy even after 2 hour walks in the forest near our home. We decided to get him a buddy to play with because he needed someone to be with during the day and just to keep him company. So off we went to Second Chance and visited all the dogs available for adoption in the outdoor kennels. As we came into the yard, the dogs erupted with barks of excitement and we were a little overwhelmed. As we read the biography of each dog, I noticed one particular golden fur ball sitting quietly in his kennel. He had these small cute ears that folded over when at attention, and that he was round all over. He also had a lame right leg from when a vehicle hit him on the Hopi rez, and a kind passerby took him into Second Chance. I approached the kennel and the dog sat down near the gate and looked at me with his huge puppy eyes and licked my fingers. It was that moment that he chose us. I said to my husband, “He is the one. Let’s visit with him and adopt him. He is the one!” Naturally, my husband was less inclined to make a seemingly rash decision and said let’s sleep on it and come back the next day with Ca$h. Even then I was reluctant to leave him and I promised him we would come back to visit. The next day couldn’t have come sooner. We learned that another couple of hours, he would’ve been adopted by another couple who were trying to get permission from their apartment’s landlord. We came back to Second Chance and initiated a private visit with Ca$h and Lefty. They immediately got along well and no one growled. Just lots of butt sniffing. That was it! Lefty came home with us. We learned that Lefty was very timid when it came to be leashed and tried to duck out of it, and he did successfully a few times. On immediate arrival at our home, we took both dogs out to the forest for a walk. We placed a new collar on Lefty which he immediately wiggled out of. He was timid and would duck every time we approached to pet him or place a leash or collar on him. He was very skittish and jumped at loud unexpected noises, leading us to believe that he probably was physically abused at one point. He had every right to be untrusting of any human. We were willing to be patient and loving. That was over five years ago and Lefty came love and trust us. Eventually, he stopped being so timid and skittish, and loved his daily walks. He loved doggie treats and would use his big puppy eyes to his advantage to get more treats. Worked every time!
I mentioned that Lefty had a right lame leg, and when it came time to name him we went through a few names; Duece, Johnny, etc. Ca$h was named after Mr. Johnny Cash so we wanted to go with the same name theme. We already had a human friend named Waylon so that was out of the question. My husband also worked as a river guide and as a paddle boat captain so he thought of all the commands he would yell at people like “Left Paddle!” The name Lefty was perfect! It tied in with our other dog’s name Ca$h and from the Willie Nelson song, “Pancho and Lefty” and not to mention, when he sat down he would favor his “left” side. Isn’t that perfect?
He had a lot quirks too. See Ca$h was way more energetic and loved to play his version of fetch which is when we’d throw the stick or ball, he’d run toward it and pick up with his mouth and then stand or run off with it and drop it off in a distance. So I figured it’d be only fair to throw Lefty a stick too, which I did, and boy did he run after it like he was going to beat Ca$h to it. Then he skidded to a sudden halt and stopped to smell some purple flowers. No joke! He literally stopped to smell the flowers! And he never attempted to run after any stick or ball that was thrown. He was happier to smell every flower and plant he came upon.
When I learned of Lefty’s passing, I lost my breath and just about fainted. I miss him terribly. We miss him terribly. The house is a little empty without the two dogs but our third dog, Willie (yes after Mr. Nelson) remains and he will be spoiled rotten. Perhaps we will adopt another friend for him but for now we will continue to celebrate Lefty and Ca$h lives. They gave us so much love and loyalty. My husband says to think of the good times, and the fact that they had such a good life compared to the alternate if they were still abandoned and homeless. I love them so much and will miss them! For now we will bask in the love of Willie, our dog, and Juno, our formerly obese cat (she was very fat when we adopted her).