3/16/2009

Mr. Landers and Alpha


As I have stated several times on this blog, I am very much into physical fitness at my ripe old age of 57. I think exercise is the very best gift you can give yourself, regardless of age. It's amazing how different you feel after about a 30 minute workout on the treadmill or just going for a leisurely walk in your neighborhood.

I take my beagle, Ralph, for his morning walk about 6:30AM every morning. The only time we don't go is when it is raining. The problem with that is Ralph doesn't understand why we still can't go even if it is raining (sigh). During our morning walks, we always ran into a man also walking his dog. I've gotten to know Mr. Landers over the past couple of years. I used to go for my morning walks even before I adopted Ralph (sometimes I think it was the other way around). I found out he was a widower, having lost his wife to cancer 5 years ago. He said he is 74 years old and never felt better in his life. He has told me he started walking Alpha, his big German Shepard, six years ago at the advice of his veterinarian. The vet even told him it would do him good as well. Sound advice from an animal doctor, Mr. Landers said. Mr. Landers was a nice gentleman and we have drunk coffee at his place a few times after our walks.

In late January of this year, I noticed Mr. Landers had missed his morning walks three days in a row. Concerned, one morning I decided to stop by his house. Mr. Landers was not there. But, his son was there. Mr. Landers son, Tom, told me that Alpha, his German Shepard that he had owned since it was six weeks old, had died three days previous at the age of 14. I could tell that Alpha was pretty old. Tom stated that his father was devastated by the loss of Alpha. I was pretty broken up about it as well. Alpha was a gentle giant that even Ralph seemed to like.

Mr. Landers stopped his morning walks after Alpha died. I would go by his house during my morning walk and would sometimes see him in his patio, say hello to him and keep going. I could tell that Mr. Landers wanted to be left alone. I had spoke to him before and expressed my condolences to him about Alpha. But, it seemed Mr. Landers no longer wanted to talk to me. And I understand that. People react to death in their own way. Some people want to be around others for consoling and some just want to be left alone. Maybe the sight of Ralph and me just brought the pain that much more to Mr. Landers.

Last Thursday, as I was going on my morning walk, I noticed a lot of cars in front of Mr. Landers house. Not sure what was going on, I kept on walking with Ralph. I decided to double around, thus giving Ralph a rare double treat in a morning walk, I noticed his son, Tom, getting something from the trunk of his car. I stopped by and spoke to Mr. Landers son and inquired if Mr. Landers was ok. Tom told me that Mr. Landers had died in his sleep Wednesday. Tom stated that the loss of Mrs. Landers and the subsequent loss of Alpha was just too much for his father.

I still go for my morning walks, as I will this morning and will every morning until I too meet my final day. But, it's not the same without Mr. Landers and Alpha to walk with each day. In fact, I think Ralph is a bit despondent as well. I hope and I pray that Mr. Landers is with his wife along with Alpha at his side, as he continues his walks through the Heavenly Gates. Ralph and I miss them. I guess I always will.  I think this quote best describes Mr. Landers and Alpha...."The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master."-Ben Hur Lampman 


Ben Hur Lampman

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