Have You Ever Loved and Lost A Dog?

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Depression and Faith | 1 comment

Farley Powell  (May 27, 2007–August 16, 2023)

Here’s my tribute to Farley, consisting of four slice-of-life memories that revealed his specialness. As you read, sift through your mind for special memories of the dog you loved and lost.


Sensitive Comforter

My wife’s friend suffered harsh symptoms of menopause: insomnia; mind-numbing daytime fatigue and an emotional rollercoaster that included dips in mood, leaving her anxious and despondent at times. She unexpectedly showed up at our house late one morning.

After explaining to Dolly what she was going through, she said, “Can I come in and stretch out on your couch? Maybe a neutral location will help me relax and fall asleep. I desperately need to rest before the kids come home from school, but it just isn’t happening at my house. You can go about your business while I’m here.”

“Of course,” Dolly assured her.

Farley was a year old at the time. With an introverted temperament, he didn’t warm up to people outside of his immediate family. He didn’t threaten them or bite, but he didn’t welcome them with tail wags or beg to be petted, either. He treated guests indifferently, except when someone he didn’t know approached him too boldly and enthusiastically. Then he’d show his displeasure with a snarl.

When the friend arrived, Dolly and Farley observed her lethargic gait, hanging eyelids, drooping mouth corners and the dark circles under her red eyes. She stretched out on the couch. A couple minutes later, it happened.

After staring at her from the floor for a moment, Farley leapt up to her side and snuggled against her upper body, offering her his warmth and companionship. She soon fell asleep. Farley didn’t get up until she was ready to leave a couple of hours later.

You had to know Farley to realize how unexpected and atypical his behavior was. He overcame his antisocial tendency to comfort a needy person. God must have given him a sixth sense to see when a person needed the consolation of his physical touch and presence.

No wonder I still cry occasionally, 10 months after he died.

Lord, keep reminding me of how desperate hurting people are for my physical touch and presence. When I don’t know what to say, remind me that my physical presence may be enough.


Passionate Greeter

You’ve probably seen videos of a lost dog reunited with his owner after days or weeks of separation. The unfettered joy of the creature shows in a delirious dance and an unrestrained leap into his owner’s arms.

For most of his 16 years, two months and 20 days, that’s how Farley greeted me daily when I arrived home from work. As soon as I opened the door, his tail wagging like car wiper blades on high, I heard it:


I figured it was only a matter of time until he cracked the hardwood cabinet or table legs. The tail-thumping was accompanied by a high-pitch whine of hysterical desire to greet me. Just bending over, speaking warmly to him, patting his head and rubbing his back, wasn’t enough. Nothing short of picking him up and letting him say hello face-to-face with long-tongued kisses satisfied him.

Oh, what I’d give to hear his tail-whacking and feel his wet kisses just one more time!

We can learn a lot from him about how to greet people we love. If we were more like Farley, we wouldn’t take each other for granted as often.


Courageous Braveheart   

Farley and I turned left out of our driveway for our daily walk. I kept my red, short-haired dachshund between me and the curb, knowing his penchant for darting across the road when a bicycle or motorcycle passes by, or if someone else walking a dog heads our way.

Moments later, a lady turns our way off a side road with her German Shepherd. To say that Farley went ballistic doesn’t do his reaction justice. The much bigger dog didn’t trigger Farley’s antisocial behavior with barks or a growl. Yet Farley viewed him as a threat, lunging toward the other side of the road with all his 18-pound might. His ferocious, loud barking belied his small stature. He pulled me to the middle of the road, intent on attacking a dog who weighed five times more than him. I almost threw my back out by yanking and pulling on his leash multiple times to keep him on our side of the street.

Either Farley viewed the bigger dog as a threat to me, or as an alpha male extraordinaire, he intended to show who the boss dog was in our neighborhood. Possibly, he feared the German Shepherd, but figured the best way to channel his fear was a direct assault. Whatever his motive, he intended to rip the larger dog to shreds.

After that incident, on different occasions, I saved pit bulls, labs and Rottweilers from Farley’s wrath. Nobody messed with Farley, or his daddy.

I began calling him Little Braveheart. No wonder I miss him so much.

When I’m confronted by a huge obstacle or threat, do I cower, run away, or face it head on?


24/7 Protector  

Farley knew something was bad wrong with his momma.

After a couple of days in the hospital, she entered the house on crutches and eased into a recliner in the den, which served as her bed for two months. After surgery on a severe break in her tibia, Dolly couldn’t sleep in our high-off-the-floor bed nor put weight on the leg. The surgeon fitted her with a long titanium plate, held permanently in place by five long screws.

Typically, Farley slept in the bed between us. But for those two months, he left me high and dry and shadowed his momma. He slept on the arm of the recliner or in her lap, only leaving her side to eat, take a walk with me or to do his business outside. Every time she grabbed her crutches and hobbled to the hallway bathroom, he went along and waited for her just outside the door, then escorted her back to the recliner.

Every other day, a different lady from our church brought supper. If she wanted to give Dolly a hug, she had to go around Farley as he sat on the chair arm. He eyed anyone he didn’t know with suspicion, fearing the stranger intended to inflict more pain on his momma.

I watched with concern when a friend reached down to put her arm around Dolly to say goodbye. Farley growled, bared his teeth, curling his lips back to show her how long and sharp they were, as if to say, “Back off! You better not hurt my momma!” She cut short her embrace and jerked her arm back to safety.

He wasn’t a warm, sanguine dog in relation to people outside our family, but Farley would have fought to the death if another person or dog threatened his momma or me.

His loyalty kept leaving paw prints on my heart. To what extent do I leave fingerprints of affection on the hearts of people I know?


I mourned for 10 months before I could write this tribute. This trip into the past generated a fresh flow of tears.

But that’s okay. The pain merely proves that I loved him....and that he loved me.

The greater the joy that someone gave you, the greater the grief when he or she is gone.










Please note: comments are closed after two weeks. You are welcome to contact me directly after that time if you would like to share your thoughts.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you, Terry. This is a beautiful tribute filled with good lessons for us.


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