A Chance to Say Goodbye

Saying goodbye, whether parting from family or friends. is always difficult.  Perhaps the most difficult is the permanent goodbye that accompanies the loss of a beloved pet.  The loss of a long term companion like a dog or cat is a change we are often not prepared for but must face like most changes in life.

My constant companion for the past 12-13 years was a dog named "Cholla", a little mixed breed female who resembled a fox or small coyote and was often mistaken by others as a wild animal even though she had a bobbed tail.  Tan in coloration, she was a rescue animal I acquired when working for the National Institutes of Health at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.  Coming back from lunch with co-workers one day I noticed a women with this dog on a string.  The women was sitting outside on the steps to the building waiting for her daughter who had an appointment with a physician and asked if anyone wanted a dog.  It was a stray they had captured and were looking for a home for the animal.  One look and I wanted to take the dog home but initially suggested that a co-worker who had pets might take her.  She declined so I said OK.  Taking my new dog over to my truck she hopped right in and made herself right at home, it was just the beginning of a long relationship.  Having her checked out at the vet where she was neutered and received her shots I learned she was an estimated 1-1.5 yrs old.  I named her Cholla because it was clear she was a desert dog, she didn't like the water and could be a pain at times (just like the cactus).  After house training I soon discovered that she was deathly afraid of other dogs and most people, and when another dog approached she would try and climb up my leg to get away from the other animal.  She rarely barked and always stayed by my side unless she spotted a rabbit, she liked to chase rabbits but never caught any, just enjoyed the chase.  As a pilot I also taught Cholla about aircraft.  All I would have to say was "airplanes" and point away from the aircraft and she would move away, a good dog.  She never got into trouble with rattlers and would always steer clear when she encountered one, a true dog of the desert.

But we all age, Cholla included.  First her hearing started going followed by her eyesight, I would often find her standing in a corner seemly lost but once moved she was OK.  Then her hips started giving her problems and soon I had to carry her in and out of the trailer because the 3 steps were to much.  Last November there was a morning she could not get up and thinking this was it, I got the 30-30, a shovel, and prepared a grave next to the other dogs buried on the estate.  When I returned though she had managed to get up and was moving around so we continued with our routine of carrying her in and out of the trailer every day.

Cholla always stayed near the trailer and was not prone to wandering off.  I could always find her ensconced in her hole under the trailer staying cool during the summer or lying out in the warm sun during winter.  But the other day turned out to be different.  I took her outside as usual in the morning and went to work installing a washer and dryer, this was the last time I was to see Cholla.  By late afternoon I returned to the trailer but could not find Cholla.  Worried I began searching around for her but no luck.  Then I hopped in the Kubota and started driving around the estate.  This continued to well after sunset and I would periodically open the trailer door throughout the evening looking around expecting to see her sitting out on the concrete pad, but she did not return.  The next morning still no Cholla.  I can only hope she found someplace comfortable to rest.  She will be missed, goodbye Cholla.

Cholla sitting up waiting for a treat.

Cholla and Sonny sitting in a trike, ready to fly.

Cholla and me.


  1. She was so sweet! So sorry... it's so hard to lose such a good friend.

  2. Yes your quite right, I still go outside and expect to see her sitting there waiting for a treat. Guests enjoyed interacting with her and always thought she was a coyote.

  3. Yes I'm sad at her loss. I have wandered/explored/experienced this life by myself and Cholla was was a big part of that experience.

  4. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this ... what huge heart she must have had, and I know how much you'll miss her. These are the times that the "Rainbow Bridge" can bring some comfort. Thinking of you both ...

  5. Thank you Wynne. I can report that I found her north of the estate out on state land. No evidence that the coyotes got her of which I'm glad.

  6. I'm so sorry to read this, and I feel your loss. I hope her departure was peaceful, and I'm sure she knew she was loved.

    I must add that she looks remarkably like a beloved dog I had as a child who was 3/4 coyote and 1/4 Australian shepherd, and the smartest dog I've ever known. I would guess that Cholla also had some coyote in her.

  7. Thank you Heidi. I believe she passed peacefully, it was time.