What a wonderful companion Sprite was! Mark and his family were the angels that saw him through a difficult time in his last years. Sprite loved them very much. I just read the book because it was good therapy for me. You see, misery loves company, but in it we find strength to move forward and count our blessings—how ironic but it is true.

I lost my beautiful and astonishing Mesha Little Bear Mouse almost 2 months ago at 14 years. With pitch black flowing fur, so leggy he had to cross his legs to keep them out of the way, and so intelligent he was that I had to go to obedience training school to keep up with him.

OUTLAW DOG: He was also a victim of canine racism, (he and his type) based on fairy tales and narrow minded people, so despite this setback he became an ambassador to his race to go way beyond what anyone could expect for the average dog. Mesha was a wolfdog, half wolf, half Shiloh Shepherd, a combination that won him a CD obedience title with the highest qualifying scores, agility competition awards, a Canine Good Citizen award, sled pull awards, high jump awards, broad jump awards, and confirmation awards on his movement and appearance. Most of all, we had such a great bond we were a team that couldn’t be separated. I was very proud of Mesha as any dog owner would know the time and work spent with a best friend to perfect a sport and win every time.

A BEAUTIFUL MIND: He went beyond and further, and had a great communication he played out like in schrades, using objects he would retrieve, put it together to form a sentence and motioning what he wanted. For example Mesha wanted a dog treat (cookies) but when I looked on the fridge, we were out, so I told him, “All Gone”. He must have thought I was stupid, so he went to the garbage and retrieved the empty box of treats and laid it at my feet. Then whined in a “hmmm?” noise and pointed his nose at the top of the fridge. He repeated himself. Then he got me to say hummmm? I looked on top of the fridge again and behind the clutter of dog toys, there was a new box of treats that had fallen over.

OLD TRAPPER: Mesha baited his own traps with dog toys he purposely laid in traffic area of the house, and hid behind a coffee table to catch our other dogs running around the corner who would take the bait. Tashie, his daughter was especially a sucker for his games. He would pounce on them when they took the bait. This baffled me. Was he watching Wiley Coyote cartoons on TV and his Acme machines to catch the Roadrunner when I wasn’t home? I found out one of his aunts did this to trap mice, so this probably was an inherited trait.

TEACHER: I tapped Mesha the nose with my finger and took my finger to my eyes for “look” when I needed his attention to learn a new command when he was distracted. (He learned 43 different commands and sometimes doing our routine every day got boring for him). Mesha turned the tables on me after he retired from shows and did it to me. He would wake me from sleep by tapping his cold nose to my nose and saying “Hummm?” and gave that face in my face stare, “Look at me” ..Sometimes he would take me to the Twilight Zone. I knew he expected me to read his thoughts. He practiced this every day to see if I could guess what he was thinking. Electrons of “thought” were bouncing between his brain and mine like the way aliens communicate. It worked. When Mesha asked me a question with “Hummm”? his tone went up at the end like human speech so I knew he was polite enough to ask and not demand.
MESHA TABERNACLE CHOIR: Mesha loved his family and started the morning choir session, being the patriarch of our pack of 6 dogs. Mesha had a great howl, but amazingly he was more versatile than Julie Andrews with a 7 octave range. It wasn’t tunes to the “Sounds of Music”, but he was loud enough to cover your ears before they exploded. When he turned 13, those high pitches disappeared into the dog range of hearing. I knew those notes went somewhere, I hoped they didn’t interfere with any cell phone tower transmitter. At the dog shows people wondered whose animal was howling so pathetically that it begged for sympathy…it was Mesha when I left him alone at camp.

MY HERO: Mesha and I were always training in our yard which was heavily forested area. Some people are not aware of the dangers they cause when they feed bears, and one day this proved dangerous. A large black bear came out of the neighbors woods tumbling towards Mesha’s back when he was doing a distance sit-stay. I called him to heel as quickly as possible to get him away from this bear who had no fear and had his head low and threatening at a canter. When Mesha came to heel position, then he saw the bear charging us. I did not turn my back and run but face the bear, and instinctively so did Mesha. He stayed right next to me, not leashed, and he thundered out a roaring noise that shook the leaves on the trees and nearly busted my ear drums. The bear being about 20 feet from us in a charge stopped dead in its tracks, stood up a bit to turn and run faster away from us, disappearing to where he came from. Mesha had put himself right in front of me. All this happened in a matter of seconds and I was too surprised to think straight. I truly believe Mesha saved me, and if he wasn’t with me, I may have been attacked. Mesha stayed real close to me the rest of the day, my hero! Later did I learn the posture of the bear was a real threat and the neighbors fed this bear the day before (while they always let their little 4 year old girl play outside alone). . Mesha was an inspiration for articles I wrote for canine magazines and a USAWA publication while editor, and several articles were written about him, one was about this incident.

DEATH SENTENCE: Mesha had legs to run off and jump fences, but he stayed with me and his pack. Life was too good to leave his comforts and the ones he loved. Mesha was a laid back dog, so laid back he wouldn’t lay down, he would fall over. Mesha, when he wasn’t amazing me, would curl his paws over my feet like he was holding on to me. Most the time his front legs were always crossed as a dignified “king of his domain” would do. He was unto the very end, always cleaning his paws. I had 4 other 100 lb.+ dogs but I knew his footsteps just by the way he walked. As he got older, he started having urinating problems and the vets couldn’t find the problem except his prostrate was enlarged. He just had his second litter when I found a very small lump. He developed testicle cancer. This was devastating and I worried about him. He was then neutered and his urinary problem went away, but the vet said it may travel elsewhere. I had blood work every year to see if there were any abnormalities and everything seemed okay. We took our walks in the woods, played our games and went on with our extraordinary lives until after his 13th birthday he suddenly had a seizure that left him debilitated, dizzy and his eyes darting back and forth. I rushed him to the vet 28 miles away. The vet told me he had a 90% chance it was brain cancer, and on x-rays they found a large mass covering his right side from his upper chest all the way down. She gave him 2 weeks and then I would “know what to do”. He could have been transported to the University of MN, St Paul for some exploratory surgery, but I knew the mass was too big and after his spleen or organs were to be taken out, how long was his survival and what was that quality of life and then the brain cancer was likely inoperable and taking its toll? I had to search options and what was best for Mesha. How does one explain the emotions you feel in words when it is the worst emotional pain you ever felt? It was devastating. Like what Mark said in his book, you think you are prepared and you never are. I decided at Mesha’s age and quality of life not to operate. I took Mesha home to die, and made arrangements for his cremation. Mesha had a hard time keeping his balance and holding a 120 lb dogs rear end up while we went down the steps outside to potty was difficult. He became paranoid of his food and water bowl, so I fed and gave him water in my hand. He didn’t complain. He was a fighter., I grew closer to God in my prayers to give me more time. I was taking care of an invalid who wanted to live, and I would have laid down my life and job to have those extra days. I spent many hours each day messaging him, holding his head in my lap, feeding him a diet of chicken and hamburger, treating him like it was his birthday and like he would die the next second.

REPRIEVE: It was two weeks later and Mesha started walking on his own and became his old self again outside of some stiffness, which I thought was from being an invalid that period of time. When this happened, I was so grateful that he got a reprieve from God, I celebrated every day with love and anything he wanted, and the other dogs got some residue from this, but it didn’t spoil any of them. Mesha came back to his morning rituals of bumping my nose, kissing my face, and Tabernacle Choir practice. We took walks during the worst snow and rain storms in March, walking 12 miles with the pack, but two weeks later the seizure hit again, only harder. Again, I cared and gave him all my time and love, and again he recovered. We went on like every day was his birthday all summer, all fall. I treasured each day he was able, and counted my blessings that he had a third chance to give me what I needed.

ANGELS CAME: Mesha was restless on the morning of Oct 14th and he was laying at the foot of my bed frame and I couldn’t see him, but his son, Justus, was looking at him oddly. It is what I saw in Justus that alarmed me. Mesha was gray, cold, and in discomfort. His heart was giving out. I took him outside and he had an attack with a seizure, so I got a blanket and dragged him back to the deck. It stopped. He then got up and walked inside the house. He was hit again, then got up to go to his favorite bed in front of his window. I gave him his last drink of water. I tried calling vets but they were closed. It was Sunday. I was panicked, and knew his time was near. I called my family members…Then one vet finally called back and told me to bring him in…but as soon as I hung up the phone with the vet, Mesha looked at me with his teddy bear eyes like as if we were in the Twilight Zone doing his mental telepathy again and I felt him tell me to come and hold him. I quickly rushed to hug him, and then Mesha grabbed my right arm with his left paw and drew it to his chest in an embrace I will never forget. He immediately passed right there in my arms. I told him, “Mesha, let go and run free!” I couldn’t stop the tears that flooded my face and spilled over on his beautiful black fur. I told him to go but I was devastated he left.

I had 2 of his grown pups and my other two shepherds say their goodbyes as I put a sunflower on his collar with a leather tag that said, “YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE”. I loaded him into the back of my truck and took him to the vet for cremation the next day. They didn’t have a body bag big enough for him. He was all heart. I retained his ashes and brought them home. I cried for many weeks all day. I just cry every day a little less as I accept it. Yes, everything in my house reminded me of him. Even when I walked the dogs past our gate, there was Mesha’s old poo, and it made me cry seeing it. Everything, even photos of him were too hard to look at. A part of me died with him. WE were a team, WE were best friends, We were inseparable. Mesha was my life for 14 amazing years.

COPING: I notified my old friends that Mesha passed away, and they gave me their deepest sympathy. Unfortunately many of their dogs who showed with him already was comforting but it made me cry happy tears. Anyway I looked at it, I bawled my eyes out. I have changed since Mesha got sick and passed. My faith has gotten stronger and I appreciate my other dogs even more. I count my blessings and thank God every day for giving me such an intelligent and loving dog and my other companions, friends, family and health. Mesha is watching over me now and someday I will join him. How does one get over the pain of missing a beautiful pet? I found that time, work away from home, praying, and doing something worth while in your beloved companion’s memory helps with recovery, you can find a support group, read Marks book, or do what Mark Levin had done by writing one. Mesha along with other exceptionally loved dogs will never be forgotten. passed too so it was a sympathy for all.

Donna from MN