I debated on whether writing about the loss of our dog on HeidiTown. However, the more I thought about it the more I realized that our dog deserves a post (or 20, but I decided on one for the sake of my readers). After all, she was with us for nearly 15 years and six months which is a large era in our lives.
Xena left us on August 24, 2018. This 80 pounds German Shepherd was a bright light in our lives. We got her at 8 weeks old, before the brewery boom, before Michael Jackson died and before the existence of HeidiTown.
Her first road trip was the Albuquerque, New Mexico and this is when we learned she was prone to car sickness. We made an unscheduled stop in Castle Rock for towels. I think you get the picture.
Other than car sickness, which she quickly grew out of, Xena was a great traveler and loved to go anywhere with us mostly because it meant she got to be with us.
I think this is really why dogs like car rides—while they like to stick their head out the window which apparently gives them an awesome high, being with their family is the best thing ever about car rides. When we leave without them, they can only sit and hope that we’re safe, when they are with us, they know.
Xena took her job as security guard very seriously. When we went to the family cabin in Park County, which we did a lot during her life, she would patrol every room in the three-story house when we arrived. I assume she was making sure it was all secure. Never a runner, it was at the cabin when I realized that Xena would never leave us voluntarily.
Still a gangly teenager, Xena spotted a rodent and begin running up the canyon. I freaked out because she was off-leash, a freedom she only got on private property in the mountains. After a brief run, she looked back and saw that I wasn’t running with her at which point she trotted back to me. Her biggest fear was us leaving her and when we packed for trips without her, we tried not to let her know so as not to stress her out. I bet a few of you do this too!
She loved camping and the last trip we took her on was the Dinosaur National Monument. She enjoyed camping but she also loved yurt trips. We took her on two of those. I am pretty sure she wished we lived in a tent.
As I mentioned above, Xena wasn’t an official working dog, but she was our house security system. I always joked that I was the safest when I was in the shower because she would lay directly outside of the shower stall until she stopped being able to get upstairs without assistance.
She was mostly fearless except for thunder, an unexpected convenience of her going deaf around age 13.
Part of her fearlessness was nature and part was nurture. Ryan took her down playground slides and swimming when she was just a pup. She used to love climbing steep trails with us in Colorado’s back-country and was quite an agile mountain dog.
Her trip to New Mexico was her only experience outside of Colorado. As a native of Colorado, she was one of nine puppies in a litter from Julesburg. She was the quintessential Colorado dog with a home in the mountains, big cars and lots of hikes.
For years I had a bumper sticker that read “Dog is My Co-Pilot.” A play on the popular “God is My Co-Pilot” bumper sticker. Did you ever realize that dog is god spelled backward?
Watching Xena grow old was difficult but we don’t regret one day of it. Some days were more difficult than others and we are so thankful that we had amazing vets at Paws & Claws to see us through it. Their staff is also top-notch in my book.
I also recommend the services of Home to Heaven. Making the final decision was the hardest thing we’ve ever done but I’m so glad we decided to say goodbye at home.
Lastly, I want to mention our pet sitter Lizz who stuck it out to the end. Without her, we couldn’t have made HeidiTown work the way it does and for that, I am forever grateful to Lizz, Xena’s second mom. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Losing a dog means so much more than simply losing a pet. A big part of my self-identification is “dog owner,” specifically “Xena’s mom.” Who am I without a dog? And losing a dog means facing the fact that part of your life is gone whether they survived six years or 15 years, those years aren’t coming back to any of us, dog or human.
Alas, dogs are the best and Xena was the best of them. The hole in our heart will always be there. I am grateful for the wonderful life she lived and the wonderful life we lived with her. I wrote on HeidiTown’s Facebook page that “Dogs are life’s greatest gift and Xena was our most cherished gift since April 2003.”
There will be other dogs and we will love them deeply, but there will only ever be one Xena.
You were so loved.