Amber the Wonder Dog

Amber was a blonde, well, amber colored dog. She featured a white scarf and favored red collars for her tags. She had dainty deer feet, which she crossed in lady-like fashion when at rest. Her tail ended in a white plume with a black patch close to her tail, similar to a beagle. She was part border collie, and had that working dog nature. When spoken to she would cock her head to one side and look at you intently, alert to get going or simply to please.

Her real job was keeping the yard squirrel free. We also had less visits from raccoons once she came to live with us. Many a possum would pause on the fence traversing our yard and stay frozen until we came to investigate the barking dog leaping at the fence in a highly offended manner at the intruder. This was a common night time occurrence at any hour.

A highly intelligent animal, Amber had quite a vocabulary. From the start she worked hard to understand us. She was highly cooperative and would comply with anything we could make clear to her. She knew right from left and from an early age needed only a verbal leash. She proudly carried her Frisbee to the park and would catch it clear across the park every time, or until your arm got tired. She had many neighborhood pals, some dogs, some cats and most people. She especially behaved well with children.

This dog was not just friendly. She was so popular she had a fan club. When out in public, she was the official greeter. Around our neighborhood, she’d join the doggy circuit loudly announcing the mailman’s visit, anyone walking by. She had a pal Farley, and could hear him coming a block away, assuring we’d have a bone for him and wait for him to join us for a walk. In the work place, she was in high demand. People were insulted if she didn’t greet each one personally, which made for a long day’s work. She’d lay outside the office door, on guard for visitors and alert for a chance to go outside on reconnaissance.

Sometimes good deeds are rewarded in this life. My husband had picked out this particular dog at the shelter with somebody else in mind. When that didn’t work out, we drove home selecting a name for her and figuring we would have to fortify the front gate to fully enclose our yard.

When we first brought Amber home, we put her in the back yard and gave the cats time to adjust. Or so we thought. My husband came home to find her in the house and scolded me for leaving the dog inside for the day. A quick look around gave evidence that she had hopped up on the motorcycle to climb in the back window. We knew we had a very agile dog – both physically and mentally. We did our best to keep up with her for runs in the park, hiking, boating and on other travels throughout the country.

In the end, she went quickly. Following a reoccurrence of cancer and an unseasonably long heat wave, she lay quietly waiting for my husband to come home. We brought her to our local animal hospital, where she had received such good care and collectively determined this was the end of a wonderful life for Amber, the Wonder Dog.

On our kitchen table holds a photograph of a younger Amber, carrying a large stick out of the waves at the Santa Cruz beach. She would watch the water carefully retrieving sticks from the foamy edge where the sea reaches highest onto the beach. There will not be a time in our lives where we will visit any beach without looking for her in the foam.

Nina from CA