Auld Lang Syne

AULD LANG SYNE is an expression that loosely translates as “for old time’s sake.” It’s a song commonly heard this time of year as people reflect upon another closing chapter of life and look forward to new beginnings, full of resolutions and good cheer.  2010 has been an amazing year: a new business, deepened friendships and community involvement, fun travels, and great family gatherings.  But it is on a sad note the I close out my 2010 and write this post of reflection for our dog, Trader, who at age 14 1/2 passed away on December 15th of lymphoma.  Trader, I am sure, is one of the primary reasons that my path has led to pet photography (please see my previous post, Tail of aMUSEment).  He has been one of the most delightful creatures that I’ve been blessed to have in my life; and I’ve taken great pleasure in documenting our adventures, so much so that it inspired me to do so for others.

There’s a lot of history that I could recount where Trader is concerned. He nursed me through a couple of boyfriends and won the heart of my husband who is now much more concerned about animal welfare.  Trader nearly had to go underground due to a potential custody battle when one relationship ended.  His calm, serious nature earned him the nickname, “The Judge.”  But he had a feisty and playful side, too, and would chase balls with vigor, hunt and slay barbaric squeaky toys, and take long walks to see who might be out to greet him.  He traveled with us to the Middle East and struck terror in the hearts of many locals….I mean, who wouldn’t be scared of a 12 pound Shih Tzu?  He worked tirelessly on his personal campaign of “No Tree Left Behind,” passionately believing that every tree deserved to be peed on! He was a gold member of the Clean Plate Club and never let any food go to waste.  He knew that people are starving in other parts of the world and diligently ate what was put before him. The silver lining with having cancer for him was that he got an upgraded diet of moist meaty food!  He learned to count at an early age as his reward for taking care of business outside was 2 small treats for a pee and 3 for a poop (this had to be downgraded to 1 and 2 respectively once the No Tree Left Behind campaign kicked in and extra pounds were gained).  Some of our friends didn’t take this seriously until they dogsat and tried to short change him on a walk.  Trader even mastered the concept of Division of Labor.  I was always Emergency and First Aid (EFA), and my husband became Sports and Leisure (SL).  Any pain, illness, or annoyances were quickly pointed out to me even when Mr. Sports and Leisure was responsible for the irritant.  For example, SL’s blackberry frequently did not get turned off at night, and the vibration on the nightstand would trouble Trader to the point of crawling up to me and swatting my face until I woke up and solved the problem.  Meanwhile, SL slept on undisturbed. Perhaps Trader’s snoring these last few years has been karmic payback since SL can sleep through vibrating blackberries, cataclysmic thunderstorms, and partying neighbors, yet is somehow rendered an insomniac when it comes to Shih Tzu snoring. Trader loved to ride in the car, especially slow rides in the convertible.  When he couldn’t be riding or walking, he loved watching out the windows or looking off a high deck.  He grieved over the loss of our yellow lab mix for 2 weeks when she died.  He was not thrilled with the arrival of Aahz and took a full month to find it in himself to tolerate him. But over the years, they became close and enjoyed wrestling and sleeping together.  And did he love to sleep!  He was all about comfort and fluffed his chosen spot until it was just right.

Trader lived large, and we are so happy to have had 14 years with him. We would have been happy to have had him forever, and we sure hope to meet up with him again one day. In the meantime, many of my resolutions for 2011 include some Trader Methodology:  Be passionate about what I do and try not to over think things.  Don’t feel guilty about taking a good nap from time to time.  Let the wind blow through my ears more often. Love more. And turn that damn blackberry off at night!

Finally, for old time’s sake, here’s a photo tribute to a very deserving best friend.

RIP, Trader Man…we love you and miss you dearly.

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StephanieJanuary 5, 2011 - 4:33 pm

Melissa. This post made me both cry and laugh {a little more crying then laughing} I am so sorry for the loss of Trader.What an awesome dog. Just know that he is up there playing with my Paco. They are keeping each other company until we see them again. Sending you hugs and warm thoughts. Tito + Stephanie

Mel HammondsJanuary 5, 2011 - 10:47 pm

Thank you, Stephanie! Good to know he has another friend to play with and keep him company 😉 Appreciate the hugs and warm thoughts! Give Tito a belly rub from me, and I can’t wait to see his next adventure!

Jon Terry & KimFebruary 18, 2011 - 10:47 pm

Dear Mel,
The tribute to Trader was very touching and beautiful. Very sorry of your loss but we believe Trader has been a little precious “teddy” i.e “gift of God” to you and your family. As we can see he has left behind wonderful memories that would forever be etched in your heart 🙂

Love ya,
Jon Terry

Mel HammondsFebruary 19, 2011 - 8:55 am

Thank you very much. Trader was truly a gift, and we miss him each and every day. We know we are so fortunate to have had 14 wonderful years with him and such great memories. Many thanks for reading his story and leaving such kind words! Hugs, Mel

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