Now Who Gets My Last Corn Flake?

There goes the daily squirrel, passing under the window beyond my desk. He was always at such risk, and knew it: tentative, uncertain, hesitant. Gandy was always watching.

But this morning, as if he knew he no longer had to fear the eyes tracking him from the house, he is casual. He stops on the walkway below the bell post to preen; twitches his tail defiantly; and without fear, covers the distance to the walnut tree for another meal. He will grow older and fatter, after all.

And I have to wonder if the word has spread among the moles—at even greatest risk of discovery that the squirrels–in that uncanny way G-dog always employed to determine where and when to dig.

It had something to do with the ears, but not entirely. A cock of the head, the weight shift onto the trembling hind quarters, and then the pounce. How did she know, running at full clip; sudden change of direction, then another thirty yards, and prepare to pounce and spike the landing on front paws alone.

I will miss that. The moles will not. I will miss—am missing so many very small details of interaction now missing. Ann and I have both remarked the countless subtle ways we accommodated the dog’s movements, her needs, her noises, her habits. Her be-ing not different from our be-ing.

And so, as with other just-past pawed friends, I will discipline myself to remember before I forget all those subtleties. I have a list of prompts, with others surely to come, that I can flesh out—sometimes in paragraphs, other times in single words or phrases that only Ann and I would understand.

Time heals all wounds. And I don’t know quite how I feel about the balm of forgetting. I want to forget the loss but remember the lost.

Memories of Gandy
• On the loveseat
• In the woods
• With food and treats
• With other dogs
• With other people
• Through the years
• With other creatures
• Through the seasons
• Her intelligence
• Her appearance
• Her personality
• Her places
• Our names for her
• The things she knew

About fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.


  1. Beautiful dog, beautiful tribute to her, Fred. I’m so sorry for your loss, but so glad you saved her. Rescue dogs have a special place in my heart, and you gave Gandy the ultimate gift of a beautiful life.

  2. I really like your “I want to forget the loss but remember the lost.” It is good to hang on to the memories and savor them. A writer like you is blessed that way. Once you have it in writing, it sticks in the memory so much better. Photos are such a blessing that way, too!!!!

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, Fred. Watching Gandy grow was a delight for me. May your memories of the good times help you through the sadness.

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