We were camping on Hornby Island in the summer of 2004 when a most fortunate series of meetings led us to the beauty that was Chika. From the moment he arrived at our campsite at 8 weeks old, he was a dog who just wanted to make sure his family was content. He wasn’t highly spirited, he didn’t want to play tons of games, he didn’t whine and bark to get attention. He just watched us oh so carefully, and made sure all was right with his family’s world.
Chika at four months
We were told in no uncertain terms that sheep dogs such as Chika (Australian Shepherd with some Border Collie thrown in) would not go in water. But we were a family that did, so Chika got over his hesitation and joined us. As he got older, he wouldn’t go in the water when we were in, as he had to watch over his family. Only once we were out would he go in. But once he was in water, any water, he was the most joyful creature you have ever seen.
Chika watching his family in the water
the only time Chika would play fetch was in the water
Everywhere we went with Chika, people commented on how beautiful he was. Literally every time I walked him someone said, “Wow, what a gorgeous dog!” He was pretty, and yet completely oblivious to the attention.
Oh those freckles!
Chika would have been 12 in another month. I like to think he lived a good life, although I often thought he was too good a dog for us. He made it so easy, never complaining about getting a walk or needing out or wanting attention. He was just there, giving his unconditional support as only dogs can and content to be a part of his family. That is what Chika gave me more than anything, an understanding of both pure joy and pure contentment. That he shared that with me means everything.
A happy dog
In the end, like many big dogs, cancer caught him and caught him quickly. He went downhill before our eyes and in the end we had to make the right decision for him. He didn’t complain, not once, even when getting up was hard and he was likely in discomfort. Yesterday was his last day with us, and it was quiet and dignified and then it was over.
He was a great dog.