It didn't matter if I was pulling weeds in the garden, sitting on the deck in a chair reading a book, or walking out to the highway, Wally was right beside me. When it was really hot and I was working in the garden, Wally would hang out under the shade of the lilac trees in a place where he could see what I was doing, but in a much cooler place. When I walked out to the road, we'd start out stride for stride, but typically, he'd make it to the top of the hill and then sit down for a break and wait for me to return and he'd plod along behind me the rest of the way to the house. The first couple of years, he'd even chase down a scent on a path through the barrow pit and eventually meet up with me further up the road. As he got older, he'd stop and wait for me closer and closer to the house. He would get so excited for our walks that if he heard me opening the door early in the mornings he'd start jumping and barking, loud enough I was afraid he'd wake up the kids. Occasionally I'd come out to grab something from the pick-up or car and when he realized there was no walk in store, he'd give me a sorrowful look and lay down on the deck.
Another thing about Wally that I always appreciated was his "warning" about approaching people. I could always hear his tail thumping loudly on the deck whenever anybody was on their way to the house, be they friend or foe. He especially loved it when Grandpa and Grandma G came by as that always meant a chicken strip was on it's way as well. Gus and Uncle Don loved to spoil both Wally and Buddy with a hot dog on their morning visits over to the bunkhouses. Wally's love for garbage was something that got old, and fast. If we were gone or busy for a few days, and Wally didn't get his full measure of food for the day, eventually he ended up tipping over the burn barrel and rifling through the refuse with his nose. We didn't even have to look outside at the cans, because his blackened nose was enough evidence to convict him on the spot.
The last few years, Wally began to physically break down, even though his kind eyes maintained their youthful twinkle. His hearing got worse and worse until he eventually didn't even hear it when I banged dishes around so he'd come and eat. His eyesight got worse too, and the cataracts became visible. His fur started to fall out, but the worst part was how hard it was for him to get around. Wally was a pretty big dog and his back hips just couldn't take the full weight of his body, so it got harder and harder for him to get up. As much as we dreaded it, the morning Scott had to lift him up so he could go outside, we knew it was time.
It's strange to drive up and not have him run out to greet our approaching Suburban. It seems strangely quiet to hear only Buddy's barking at night chasing deer and critters out of the yard. It's going to be especially lonely when it's warm enough to do my daily walks to the highway and back without Wally.
Thanks Wally, for your companionship and loyalty. We sure will miss you!