Chakotay came into our lives in 2009 after the death of our first Boxer, named Tucker. Although they were both Boxers, their personalities were nothing alike.
Chakotay was sweet and incredibly mellow. He had a laid back personality. He was never interested in chasing the cats he lived with, even as a young puppy. He would lie there patiently as they groomed him or played with his ears.
When in 2010 we lost our German Shepherd, Chakotay was thrust into the role of big brother when we brought home Archer. Archer was high energy, spoiled and demanding. He would terrorize Chakotay at times. Both the vet as well as Archer’s breeder were shocked at how patient Chakotay, being only just over a year himself, tolerated Archer.
But Marc and I weren’t. He loved Archer completely. In fact, Chakotay loved just about everyone he came in contact with. He loved the cats and the chickens. Each time we had new chicks in the house, he would have to inspect them and then would happily accept them as part of the family.
He loved the oldest person he would know, Marc’s dad. And he loved little kids. And, of course, he loved Marc and I.
He was so laid back that sometimes I would think that he didn’t have it in him to ever stand his ground if the time came. However, in 2012, as Marc and I went for a slow walk when I was recovering from major surgery, a dog came from a neighboring house running full speed at me and barking crazily. With speed so fast we barely had time to register what was happening, Chakotay went after that dog, ripping the leash from Marc’s hand. He caught her by the neck and drove her away and into the ditch. He held her for a moment - firmly, but without actually biting, and then let her up where she quickly retreated. He then stood in front of me, watching, making sure that she was continuing her exit, before turning around, wagging his nub and calmly waited to resume the walk. If I ever had a question that he would do anything and everything in his power to defend us, it ended in that few seconds of time. He was ready, willing and able to put our safety above his own.
7 years. That’s all the time he had.
But in those 7 years he did a hell of a lot. He swam and played in 2 of the Great Lakes.
He hiked mountains, including 2 high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains.
He ran in a 5K race. He camped in a tent and ate marshmallows next to a roaring fire. He frolicked in snow and dug into sand on a hot beach. He got to experience things that even some people don’t in their lives.
And when he got sick, bravely and without complaint, he became part of a medical trial that might someday lead to better treatments or even a cure to some cancers, not just for animals but for people. He never protested as blood was drawn and calmly allowed himself to be x-rayed. He was patient during the long car trips to Cornell. And through all of it, he remained a sweet soul who was always ready with a wet kiss – for us, for the vets and for anyone else whom he could reach.
And he was loved. Oh so loved. He was a vital part of our family.
There are no words to express how much he will be missed. The pain is overwhelming right now. But I feel lucky to have had this wonderful boy as part of my life for a number of years.
I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I would like to believe that somehow, somewhere, our energies will meet again.