Stillwater knew her own mind. Never did I see her falter or become unsure.  She was peaceful within herself and she shared her sense of calm with any who looked in her eyes. She was gracious, giving, kind and all-knowing and she centred me. Stillwater was a wise yet humble dog.

I lost the light that guided me for seven years when Stillwater died last week. We had to let her go but I wanted to cling to her and beg her to stay. I loved her as much as I needed her though so I whispered goodbye instead.

I had let her go once before but she made her way back to me. She had known where she belonged.

It was pouring rain the day we met and I knelt in a puddle of mud so I rest my forehead against hers. In the silence of that moment she became Stillwater. She was the first dog to be taken out of the burning bush at Mile 26 on May 31, 2010. The man who acted as caretaker to up to one hundred dogs at the train stop just north of Cochrane was a recluse. His story and that of the dogs he collected is on this web page under the ABOUT tab. It was a heroic rescue and it brought me Stillwater.

She wasn’t originally intended for me though. Or so I thought. Everyone does their part in a rescue effort and Stillwater was moved on to a private shelter some miles from us. It was only when she became depressed that we drove to take her back. Stillwater had made her way back to where she belonged and two weeks later she delivered six pups. She hadn’t wanted to give birth on a concrete floor surrounded by thick walls and bars. Had I known she was pregnant I wouldn’t have wanted that for her either. It wouldn’t be the last time Stillwater knew best.   

Stillwater was a spiritual creature. She untangled and simplified life for me. One graceful turn of her head told me all was right with the world. She watched over me the same way I am sure she watched over so many others in the bush. Pups would be safe in her care and the weaker dogs would be shielded by her. This big white bush dog was a force of nature. She was my force.

Stillwater began spending all her time outside. Even in the pouring rain she would settle herself and not move to come in. She instinctively knew what was coming. I knelt beside her and asked if it was time. She looked at me and the light was gone. Her spirit no longer shone through her eyes.

I rested my forehead against hers and in the silence of that moment, I understood. We owed her the peace she had always given us. Stillwater is gone but she taught me well and I am grateful.