How do you properly express the intense love... the immense respect... the deepest of emotions about a companion that came into your life for, comparatively speaking, such a short time, yet impacted your entire life, from then and long beyond? I often struggle with words that are adequate.
It has been since 2002 that I said goodbye to this fantastic dog.
Thumper was a throw away dog. He was a puppy that no one wanted, dumped at the shelter in my tiny town. The shelter staff thought he may have a problem with his sight because of his blue eyes. No one even thought about deafness. I didn't discover he was deaf until 2 weeks later. By then he was well entrenched in my heart. Thumper lived his life with joyful abandon, tail always wagging. He never knew a stranger. In his visits to elderly care facilities, he was always kind and gentle. He had a particular soft spot for one woman who loved candy spice drops. He would seek out her room first, get his sweet treat, then happily visit the other residents. The day he got his job as a Search Dog at 2 years old was the most important day of his life. When I showed him his harness, he lit up like a Christmas Tree, knowing full well he had a job to do. He worked as though he knew it was his destiny, and he spent the rest of his days doing it with all his heart. He participated in many missions, helping to bring answers to several families. Being deaf was never a handicap to him. Only to the rest of the world... until they took the time to get to know him. He loved me purely as only an animal can. I guess I unrealistically thought he would be around for forever. Or at least it never occurred to me that one day I would lose him. I only hope he could feel how much I loved him. I miss him so. They say that time heals all wounds. So many years have gone by and some days it still feels like yesterday. I guess with someone that you love so much and who loved you so completely, that yesterday feeling will probably never go away. I have learned to accept that I will miss him forever. I miss his helicopter tail and his soft, floppy ears. I miss his undying love of his Frisbee and his love of showing off at a demo. I miss how he learned to communicate with me just as much as I learned how to communicate with him. I loved him more than I thought was possible to love another being. He was an incredibly wise dog.
Thumper visits me in my dreams and I cherish those moments. I am privileged to see him so vividly, and feel him so intensely. He is still so very soft when I pet him. Sometimes, he is the only thing in color in my dreams. Periodically, I still see him out of the corner of my eye. He was a teacher. He was my mentor. Both in search work, and in life and life's lessons. He was my once in a lifetime dog. Kaeden, my "Hungarian Tree Climbing Desert Dog", seems to have a huge piece of Thumper in him, and that is sweet to have again in my life.
Thumper's story is burning in my head and is coming out bit by bit. Someday it will all be told. I know Thumper is still watching me. I know he always will be. He will forever be the one and only rare, Blue Eyed Hungarian Moosehound.