Sputnik is Russian for fellow traveler and the name of our Cairn Terrier. She traveled along side us for 12 years since we first found her at the animal shelter. She loved to leap up stairs and benches, to beds and even picnic tables. She also loved to run. My favourite memories of Sputnik involve her circling the soccer field as she tried to follow a seagull flying overhead. Also when she tried, on that same field, to keep up with a couple of greyhounds chasing a ball.

She had short legs but a huge heart and spirit.

I loved the sound of her toenails on the floor, or scratching at the bedroom door. I loved her soft snore at night and the sound of her lap-lapping at the water. She had a deep throaty bark that she seldom used unless someone trespassed on the park just behind our backyard or our front lawn.

Squirrels made her go beserk. She forgot she couldn’t fly or climb and she would scramble up trees and stone walls after them. Sputnik loved the snow but only suffered water sports for my sake. She’d follow me out into the water with a disdainful look on her whole body.

Sputnik escaped near death from a strange blood disease about five years ago at Christmas. She needed a blood transfusion from some Labs and she had to take a course of prednisone. I drove to Guelph Animal Hospital every day to talk her into living.
“How can you sit here and not eat anything when just over your head there’s a cat sitting?” Despite 50/50 odds she made a complete recovery.

At Christmas this year she also fell ill, her breathing became heavy and she wouldn’t eat. But suddenly after a course of antibiotics and a bath and everyone returning from various business trips—Sputnik began to eat again and run and breathe.

Only not for long. She had a lump that grew and a trick back leg and panty breathing. We took her for a car ride, fed her lots of treats—her last: a forbidden chocolate croissant that she quite enjoyed. We parked right in front of an overhang where a couple of squirrels darted and zigzagged through the brush. Sputnik could not lift her head. I did not try to talk her into living this time. Her time had come.

We took her to the vet and she lay in my arms, leaning on me heavily in utter trust and fatigue. She slept through her sedation and right through her death. Even as the doctor carried her away her soulful brown eyes kept watching me, faithful and true.

Good bye

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fellow traveler. You deserve your rest but I will miss you very badly.

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