20080113

Sterling, Passing of a Gardian

"Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath, man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust and to dust all return." ECCLESIASTES 3:19-20 (NIV)
On January 13th, 2008 at 7:12 pm pacific daylight time, Sterling, my best friend, passed. He was my buddy, he was there when no one else was. I was there by his side until the end, when I pronounced him passed at the time of record above. I will miss you Sterling...my friend...my buddy.
Sterling was the grandson of a certified royal bloodline of Japanese Akita decent. A beautiful and rare silver back, whom was given to me in his first year, almost twelve years ago this day. Sterling was a hundred pound Alpha Male with the strength and energy to take on the world.
I live on the north face of a large butte in Oregon where there are several square miles of open nature out my back door. Sterling I believe explored every square inch of it. It was in this wilderness he met several species of wild life, coyotes, deer, and possibly the local cougar. Yes a cougar! He came home covered in blood one night, and not a scratch on him except for the "cat claw" paw swipe across his snout. I'm not talking about a kitty cat paw, I'm talking about a paw swipe larger than his own four inch paw span. But for all of his Alpha'ness many think he was the most lovable respectful and protecting animals to walk God's green earth. Many of my friends considered Sterling to have been the most wonderful of all dogs they had met.
Over the years several of my dearest and closest friends have stayed here for an occasion or longer. During their stay they all befriended Sterling. They'd play with him and he would play with them. Sterling wasn't the type of dog to chase a stick or a ball. Rather he would want to race you or play shirk like a football player trying to shake an opponent. Or he'd want you to go explore, dig in the dirt chasing rodent tunnels, and inspect the perimeter of the property looking for fresh deer or coyote tracks. He was a good old boy and he loved everyone that loved. He remembered people that had been away for several years, and when they returned he would run and greet them as if to say "Hi my friend! Where have you been, I missed you!"
After six years away, one of my best friends returned to visit. He arrived at  one of those rare moments when I was away without Sterling. My friend told me Sterling ran up to him and started talking, with whimpers kisses and such. Stirling was a very quiet dog, a bark meant something was up, and a whine was a very special display of affection that he shared only with those closest to him. It was the coolest thing I have ever been told about my dog. Neat to know that your dog can recognize someone and know its ok to let them in the gate, when strangers were met with ferocious guard dog style. You might say Sterling was my personal body guard. Fact, in some cultures Akita's are said to be personal spiritual guardians, that have one master, and that they will do anything to protect their master. Many a story of warrior and his guardian the Akita exist in the lore of Asian cultures.
I had an opportunity to travel to Alaska a few years back. However I could not take Sterling with me, even though it was winter and he was definitely a northern kind of dog. Though it saddened me not to take him with me, the thought of getting to work with my sister, on a new venture doing something neither of us had ever done before, in Alaska, was a must do. So I left Sterling in the care of my parents, whom conveniently live next door. I returned home after a couple of months, where I was greeted by Sterling with leaps and bounds of joy and kisses, talking whimpers and whines, and finally him sitting on my lap, which my mere hundred pound buddy often did upon my returns home, all to show his love and affection for me.
For years I took Sterling to work with me. I have been self employed for the past thirteen years, and Sterling has been there with me at work, like a perfect employee. For the first nine years we traveled a sixty mile round trip, Monday through Friday and sometimes Saturday and or Sunday. He was there through thick and thin. Then, for the past three or so years, he has stayed at my side in my home office. Together we enjoyed the peace and serenity of of our countryside home.
In the latter mid part of July of this past year, Sterling was diagnosed with cancer. The veterinarian said he had CCS, an extremely aggressive type of cancer, and that I should not expect Sterling to live more than a few weeks or short months, at best. I was deeply saddened by this news, and disturbed by the somewhat profuse bleeding that had sprung from the lower right jaw of his mouth, where in less than 3 days the cancer had bore itself a residence the size of a racket ball.
I wasn't going to give up hope for my buddy, I loved him too much. So I sought the knowledge of those around the world and culminated a natural "medicine" consisting of Apricot seeds, shark liver oil, and a mix of vitamins and minerals to boost his immune system. I also adjusted his diet to exclude cancer feeding fats and sugars. After a few days of receiving his four times per day medicine, or juice as I told him it was, the bleeding stopped. The cancer grew a bit more, and then after a few weeks the cancer started to subside and it looked as though the "juice" was working. This was the case until about a month ago, when Sterling started to refuse his juice.
A few days ago after feeding medicating and cleaning him, the cancer caused him to drool a lot on his front legs, he went out to get his usual drink of water. It all seemed normal until he staggered away from the water bowl and laid down on the near by rug. He looked over at me with those loving eyes and said "I love you, but I just can't do this anymore". From that day until today his health declined rapidly, refusing to eat and drink. On the morning of his passing, too weak to move himself, with the help of my dad, we placed Sterling outside on his blanket so he could see the beautiful January day. When evening came we moved him into my home and placed him upon the couch where he could be close to me and I to him. I played a movie, ate dinner, and proceeded to pet and comfort him. Moments before he passed he tried to get up, looking at me as if to say one last time "I love you my master".
With a moment of silence and weeping, along with my Mom Dad and Shebee, his cousing and fellow sidekick of many years, Sterling was laid to rest. Under a grove of pine trees at the center of my property, he now lays in peace overlooking the land he was once gardian of. I thank the Lord God for giving me the opportunity to have owned such a truly special animal. He will be eternally remembered.

Sterling - the Guardian
May 8th, 1995 - January 13th, 2008