On this beautiful October day, with the incredible combination of the warmth of the sun, a cool breeze off the gulf and amazing blue skies, we lost “The Girl” to a bout with cancer. As it turns out, she had been fighting it for a while and we never knew it. She never complained, and always seemed amazing for her age (13). This morning it revealed itself as bone cancer which caused a broken left shoulder. X-rays showed the advanced progression of the disease and that the shoulder had fractured and separated from within as the cancer eroded the bone. She is gone but will never be forgotten!
Aiko, a Border Collie, was amazing! She was more a “people” than a canine, and a member of our family in every sense. Border Collies are intelligent, capable and incredibly loyal. They are bred for herding sheep in rural areas throughout the world. When our grandkids Caleb, Josh and Daniel were over, she was in her element – particularly when they had friends with them. Border Collies love to “herd” and, for Aiko, it didn’t matter if it was sheep or kids. When The Girl was around, you had to “tow-the-line!” Everyone loved her.
Aiko started her life in the mountains of Colorado. A puppy of a stray Border Collie, my daughter Ashley found Aiko waddling around the laundry room of her college apartment building. The fourth, and runt, of the litter, she stole Ashley’s heart and immediately moved into her life. For two years, they camped, hiked and hung around the mountains – with puppy adventures and sacred moments. When Ashley met her husband, our son in law Matt, there was an awkward moment when he asked, “What would you say if I told you I wanted to get rid of Aiko?” Ashley replied, “Goodbye.” A few months later, Aiko and Matt bonded during a one-on-one camping trip to Crested Butte. At that moment, she stole even his heart and he gave her the nickname, “The Girl.” The nickname stuck, and she is now known as The Girl by all.
In 2000, Ashley moved back into the college dorm and Aiko came to live with Susan and I in Sarasota, FL. She moved right in and made a smooth transformation from rugged mountain dog to pampered pooch. Whether basking in the Florida sunshine, patrolling for lizards or keeping watch over her “herd” she earned her place in our family and our hearts. She was an incredible companion. As strange as it may seem, she always knew when someone was sick, wanted to be alone or when they wanted to play. She would always meet visitors at the door with a wagging tail and a literal smile – and for the special few, she’d throw her food (you know who you are). She brought us joy and made our lives better in so many ways.
Pets are special. They are put here for a reason, and they almost always give more than they get. The Girl had a great life and she made ours so much better!