Looking back on my time spent with Harley, my heart still feels that loss all these years later. I think because he was my first dog, and he was so special, it created such a bond that really truly shaped who I am today as a person and as a veterinarian. This bond leaves a lingering sadness, but it is far outweighed by all of my fond memories of our time spent together. One of the things that was really awesome about Harley is that he had such a bond to me, that he very rarely needed to be leashed. We would often hike or go exploring, and he was the type who would just not run away – he was too much my shadow to want to be away from me. Now don’t get me wrong…there were a few close calls. The worst was the one time we were horseback riding as a group with him and a few other pups, up outside of the Poconos. He was off-leash and was doing awesome! Until……we cantered the horses down a hill, he got nervous and was trying to keep pace, but then saw my giant horse bearing down on him and just STOPPED right in front of me. To my horror, we literally ran right over him. He tumbled along the hill as I screamed and screeched my horse to a stop, and then he promptly took off at a FULL RUN into the woods. Gone. Poof. Rightly so, he was terrified, and then - he was gone.
As any good owner does in that situation – I straight up panicked. Ugly crying, jumping off my horse, screaming his name, and trying to chase him into the woods. After a few minutes I calmed down enough to listen to reason and to get back on the horse, to follow after him and try to find him. The time spent looking for him felt like an eternity, and the entire time I felt like the absolute worst pet owner on the planet. Thank goodness, he emerged from the woods within about 10-15 minutes, and though he was shaken up, he was otherwise unharmed, and just kept a healthy distance from the horses for the remainder of the walk! So obviously, that was the last time he came horseback riding with me.
One of my other fondest memories of Harley running amok is from working at Mill Pond Vet with him there as my cranky side kick. Looking back on it, it’s amazing to me that Dr Thayer allowed him to hang out in the front office. He was totally a jerk. He would bark at people who came in, especially men, and he had this terrible habit of letting himself out the front door to go exploring on his own. One day in particular, we were busy and didn’t see him let himself out, with his friend Liam the lab, and realized it only after they had been gone for who knows how long! Oh god. Commence panicking again. We ran out into the front parking lot screaming their names and started towards the street looking for them. After just a few minutes we heard barking, and sure enough we see them WAY up the road. The two happiest dogs in all the land, loping towards us, soaking wet after they had gone for a nice dip in the creek up the road where we would sometimes take them swimming. They had the grandest time, while I had a heart attack watching them run up the road just envisioning them getting hit by a car!
Don’t get me wrong, I was so mad at him for going on his own adventure…but watching him run back at full speed with his tongue lolling and a face filled with joy, it was pretty much impossible to stay mad at him. He really was one of a kind, and he serves as a good reminder to me sometimes. Don’t take yourself too seriously, sometimes it’s ok to do something unexpected, and for god’s sake – don’t forget to take a break and have some fun. I feel like I needed this reminder right now, so wanted to share it also with all of you. Take some time today to do something fun for yourself and maybe that could include an adventure with your pup into this wild world we live in. You will forever remain in my heart, Harley dog, and thank you for continuing to remind and inspire me 😊