The End of An Era

“Takaani went to be with Dan this morning at 10:30 am. He went peacefully with me and the doctor and nurses by his side.” Those were the words I received in a text from my sister-in-law, Jan about her beautiful malamute. He had outlived my brother, Dan, by six years. I had mixed emotions. I believe it’s possible to feel sad and yet hang on to gratitude for a life well lived. Beautiful memories enveloped me.

Dan and Jan had raised Takaani from the time he was three months old. Like all puppies he was frisky and loved to play. They immediately accompanied him to obedience training until he responded to their commands. Takaani seemed perfect in every way possible.

The first time the three of them visited my home, I was hesitant. Dan and Jan had asked permission to bring him and my husband and I said yes. When they arrived, we weren’t prepared for his size. I didn’t think he’d fit in our small living room, but I said nothing and hoped he was well behaved.

I needn’t have worried. He squeezed into a spot and lay down upon my brother’s command. Soon, though, he wanted everyone to pet him and he made the rounds—but gently, without knocking anything over. I had never met a dog like this.

My brother depended on Takaani during his three-year battle with cancer. Like all chemo treatments, Dan experienced some horrible days. Jan had to work so my brother’s beloved dog was his solace during the day. Takaani often snuggled with Dan on the floor or sat by him, laying his head on Dan’s footstool.

In the last days of my brother’s life, Takaani took a position by his bed. The final day we were all together, we left the room one by one and cried. Mister T, as we sometimes called him, walked out last. He whined and he had never done that before this. It was the end and he knew it.

Three or four years later, Jan and Takaani moved to another state. I missed them and my heart was incomplete. I dreaded the day I knew would come, but come it did. It was the end of an era.

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