What My Dog Haley Taught Me About Life

In Memory of Haley: June 2001-July 23rd, 2015

My life was forever changed the day I walked into the county shelter in Boone, North Carolina over 14 years ago. This little black furball with white boots for feet, was barking at me as I walked by, and the rest is history. Haley was always a little spitfire. She kept me on my toes and together, we were a team that eventually grew into a pack of 3 dogs and even a husband. In her passing, while I’m sad and will forever feel a sense of loss, I want to remember the awesome life she had and what she taught me. It was a life full of adventure- hiking in the NC mountains, swimming in many rivers and then the beach and then the pool as we eventually moved south (From Boone to Charlotte to Atlanta to Florida!)….

Haley was one of a kind and she taught me a lot about life. Having her by my side made me a more adventurous and outgoing person and my life was enriched having her as my best friend… Here are things she taught me as my sidekick for 14 years…

Be Passionate: Haley always did everything 150%. She was a collie/lab/linebacker mix and she was relentless in her pursuits. When playing Frisbee or swimming, she did so until she almost passed out. And she was equally passionate about her humans and even food. She taught me that if I’m going to do something, do it ALL THE WAY! Life is too short to do anything half-heartedly.

Be Affectionate: Haley was a bundle of joyful emotion when I came home, she whined she was so full of excitement and wasn’t afraid to show how happy she was to see me. She did this with all of her favorite humans- Scott, my parents, my friends- she loved you and wanted you to know. We love you too Haley Bear.

Be Loyal To Your Pack: Haley was the most loyal dog ever- once as a puppy she and my roomate’s dog decided to escape and go on a romp around the neighborhood. My Roomate and I frantically scoured the neighborhood to no avail, and then when we drove up the driveway, Haley was waiting at the door. My roomies dog was still roaming the neighborhood! We would often go on a walk without a leash and Haley would stop and look back to make sure I was coming as if to say “just making sure you’re still there”…. We were a team. She protected her pack.

Be Compassionate: Haley was the oldest of the 3 dog pack, at 2 I got Connor as a puppy and she took the role of mom/big sister and then I added Chloe to the mix. Chloe was a bottle fed rescue and I got her at a day old. Haley was kind and gentle from the beginning- she would be extra demonstrative to help teach Chloe how to go potty outside and the ways of the world of being a dog. Even though Chloe was always kind of lone wolf (and was mean to Haley near the end), Haley never stopped wanting to be friends… And when the cat adopted us after Connor’s Death, Haley embraced Gracie, even though she had always been a cat chaser. They were even friends and sometimes laid on the dog bed together!

Always Enjoy Your Food: Haley LOVED to eat, she was quite passionate about it. She ate with Gusto and always took every opportunity to make sure she wasn’t missing out on a tasty morsel. I’ll never forget how she somehow snuck the remains of a rotisserie chicken out of the bag it was in at the top of the trashcan but without moving the bag so I wouldn’t know! Once she disappeared at a UGA tailgate and I found her 3 tents down where the people were feeding her a contstant supply of tortilla chips. When I did a satellite media tour for Land O Lakes where we filmed in my backyard, the hotdogs kept disappearing from the tablescape… and then there was that time I left a stick of butter outside to get it to room temperature- she ate the entire thing! Scott ordered take-out from our Pita Pockets not too long ago and he his gyro on the coffee table while he went to go check on something… He came back and his gyro was gone. Haley had good taste- I would have eaten it too! Of course then there was that phase where she decided she liked to eat dried up earth worms on the sidewalk- what?? She always kept me laughing!

Be Strong and Don’t Give Up: Haley had a lot of hardships later in her life. She got vestibular disease which made it hard for her to walk for over a month, this led to infected bedsores on her legs which means she had to walk with bandages for almost a month… She fully recovered from this and then had a stroke 2 months later that left her very much worse off… The stroke left her off balance and also slightly affected her personality….And then she developed dog dementia that left her anxious and pacing the house at night… this was then coupled with hind legs that were failing her…. She fought to keep trucking until the end… She had a strong will to live and it made it very hard for me as her owner to decide whether or not she had quality of life. I didn’t want to see her suffer and I know I selfishly could have let her go on like that much longer because it is so hard to say goodbye, even though I wanted to let Haley go gracefully…

Learn to Embrace Change: The hardest part of Haley’s death has been learning to accept the new normal. I know the only constant in life is change but it is really damn hard. Haley and I were together for most of my adult life and I can’t imagine life without her. I was the “package deal” when I met Scott- the buy one get three free deal and it seems so odd that my pack has gone from 3 dogs to just one with the death of 2 of my dogs in less than a year (Connor died last August)….. In that time I’ve also added to my brood with the addition of Gracie the cat and now a little boy, the light of my life… So the pack is changing as all packs do…I’m so happy that my Haley Bear got to meet Hunter, I always knew she would be great with kids and she was sweet and gentle and would lick his tiny head to show her affection…

Haley, I know you and Connor are playing up in Heaven. My life is quite empty without you two but I know I’ll see you up in heaven one day. In my prayers I’ve asked Jesus to keep an eye on you until I get up there. I imagine you fetching coconuts and Frisbees until your hearts content. You are and will always be one of a kind, thank you for 14 great years of friendship. Until we meet again, you’ll always have a place in my heart….

Rest In Peace Haley: June, 2001-July 23rd, 2015.

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Robyn

My focus is on healthy, simple and creative recipes on the grill. I encourage women to learn to grill as it is a great way to create healthy, flavorful dishes without all the fuss and clean up in the kitchen.

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Drew - October 9, 2015 Reply

Robyn – I absolutely loved this. Dogs teach and love us so much. We have a plaque in our kitchen with our dogs photo on it that says, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”

Some days I live up to her and others I don’t. Makes me want to be better because I owe that to her.

Thank you for sharing this and I’m so sorry for your loss.

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