This morning I woke up, took the kids to school and my dog, Sophie, for a walk.  We didn’t go to our usual location but instead headed up high, to the top of Beaver Creek where I have gone every November 10th since 2011.  Some years there has been snow.  This year there was sun.  The location near Trapper’s Cabin is a special one.  The views are spectacular.  The air is fresh, clean and quiet.  It is where Trista and I first lived together.  It is open and wild and a dog’s paradise, which is why I went.  Five years ago, I chose this location to spread the ashes of my first dog, Natasha.  I wanted Sophie to see the place her predecessor loved so much.  Every year I go back to spend some time reflecting and enjoying her old stomping grounds, being sure to leave a few treats for her in the usual spot.  Though Sophie has filled the void of trusty companion, nothing will ever replace Natasha or the impact she had while in my life.  I wrote the following blog in 2011 as a reminder of just how special she was.


Thirteen years ago I met my dog, Natasha.  Thirteen days ago I said good bye to her for the last time.

I had no intentions of getting a dog when we met.  I simply saw her for sale on the side of the road and without thought or hesitation, added her to my life.  In turn, what she added to my life would prove to be a the guiding principles from which my current philosophies and attitude were crafted.

Dogs are special creatures.  Their presence in life the root of both profound happiness and sadness.  Living almost exclusively for the moment, a dog’s love is undiluted by the past or future.  Natasha saw me through the most turbulent and tumultuous times of my life.  Never has there been a period of more profound change then the time we shared together.  Yet through it all, she remained loyal with a patience and calm that would seem condescending were in not rooted entirely in love.  Her adventurous spirit fostered my relationship with the mountains and secured them as the place I now and forever will call home.

Natasha was a source of security and comfort.  When we hiked she would look back to make sure I was still coming and OK.  Her ability to ensure safety without an overbearing concern for the possibility of danger has been incorporated into my parenting techniques.  Her ability to summon energy and enthusiasm despite her age and pain the source of inspiration that solicits my many varied escapades.  The comfort and solace I seek and feel in nature echoes her wild spirit and channels the love of the outdoor lifestyle we both share.  Natasha’s simple notions reflected her pure understanding of life and provided a constant source of stability to my often wobbling existence.  Her obvious love of the Vail Valley cemented my residential fate.  I am here because of her.

Dogs speak in a language of action not words.  They can not lie.  Their eyes are truly the windows to their soul.  I will never forget the life reflected in Natasha’s eyes.  Nor will I ever forget the day that life left.   A dog comes into your life, makes it better and then leaves.  Though I miss her profoundly, I am forever grateful for the happiness she brought.  My life is better for her having been in it.