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"Pooka," man's best friend

Jess Shut Up

The very first column I wrote for the paper, "Missing the missing trees," had a section in it about a dog that was walked by her master in those trees. (Ironically, more trees and shrubs are being ripped out of the North Dam area as we speak). Well, that dog was Pooka, and she has edited her last paper with her master and watered her last bush.

A lot of you who frequented The Star, or knew the Hunters, knew the white scruffy canine that went just about everywhere they did. You knew Pooka. Many of you brought treats on many visits to The Star. Yes, you were picking up your paper, but you also visited with the happy-go-lucky dog. She knew when you were there for her, too. She would always move to the front desk of the building on Wednesdays, waiting for her treats.

Pooka was also seen at many of our local events - the summer concerts at North Dam, Colorama parades and other events that were dog friendly. I guess you could say she was just as much a part of this community as, well, I guess The Star itself. She was not just the family pet. She was a trademark of the area. She represented what we like best in the Coulee: nature, low stress, trees, good food and good company.

My last day with the dog was last Wednesday. She was no different that day than any other. She just had gotten older and it was harder for her to get around. But for goodness sakes, she was 98 in dog years, as one other Star employee informed me, remembering when Pooka was just a pup and nibbling on her toes as she worked. Lately, she just nibbled on the scooby snacks she got daily. 

It is hard to believe sometimes that we can get so attached to a pet or animal that we are crushed emotionally when that critter is lost. They truly do become a part of the family or man's best friend. A pet will love you no matter what happened yesterday as long as you give it what it needs to survive. Food, water, shelter and a belly rub from time to time. Unconditional love from its master. That's what Pooka had. Gimme a snack, and I will love you forever.

I think back to my pets as a kid and wonder how I ever survived those times of loss. I can remember my pets' names easier than I can remember classmates. My current pet is where my heart dwells when I think of the heart condition the Hunters must be in at this time. Hard stuff. But if Pooka could tell us something, something to make us feel better, well, first there would be that surprising, out-of-the-blue bark. Then ...

Thank you for the walks, you were always so dedicated. Even when you had very important things to tend to, you walked me and gave me a snack. I will remember every pat on the head, every belly rub. I loved the trees. I could play for hours chasing chipmunks and butterflies in the bushes and in the yard. Thanks for including me to cover stories on emergencies and fires. You always remembered to bring me water, even when you brought none for yourself. Thanks for a home, a home where kids played with me and loved on me. Thanks for your patience, especially when I got old and could not do things on my own. You helped. I know it was hard for you; it was hard for me too. I wanted to jump up and lick your face but I couldn't anymore. Thanks for loving me, unconditionally. Thank you master, my best friend.

This column is dedicated to everyone who has a pet and loves it unconditionally. It is also dedicated to a shaggy, white haired dog named Pooka, who barked constantly while I wrote this as if telling me what to say. I hope I got it right. "Woof."


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