About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Star Sapphire

I've been keeping tabs on Liz's new pup George and and seeing Welshcakes' dog Simi in her photos. Lately, it's made me nostalgic for my beloved boxer Star. She was born in September, 1985, and I brought her home in November. I named her "Star" when I noticed a white spot amidst the black on the top of her head and my Dad added the "Sapphire" the first time he saw her. She was the best puppy right from the day I brought her home. Not once in her whole lifetime did she ever growl at, bark at, or nip anyone. Naturally, she'd bark if someone came to the house, but as soon as we told her it was okay, she'd be quiet and, wagging her stubby little tail, wait to see if it was someone she could play with. A lot of people at that time were not familiar with boxers and would often think she was a pitt bull, a very vicious dog. But we used that to our advantage and she was a great guard dog (pussy cat in reality, though).

When I brought her home that year, Jaclyn was in kindergarten and I would walk her to school every morning. I found an old baby carrier thing made out of brown corduroy and I'd strap Star into it and carried her like a baby - it was too far for her to walk that far since she was only 8 weeks old. The first time I arrived at the school, all the Moms came running to me saying things like, "Oh I didn't know you'd been expecting!" or "You have a new baby!" It was quite amusing when they took their first peek and saw a furry brown and white face! I took Star to school that spring when the children were studying a unit on babies and it was quite a success. I did have to keep running outside to make sure Star would do her widdle there, because she was so excited being around all those little kids. When Jamie was around 6 or 7 years old, her school had a special event for Sports Day. There would be the traditional bike parade but you could enter the parade as long as you were on wheels. So Jamie dressed up in shorts and a t-shirt, held a skipping rope, and put on her roller skates. She had a towel around Star's neck and had the dog pull her as she held onto the leash. She won a prize that year! (Get it? The boxer and its trainer?)

My Dad took a particular liking to Star as we'd had a boxer when we were growing up. He'd come over to visit and all he wanted to do was play with the dog. Star loved him, too, and would never hesitate to use him as a bed. Close friends of ours had adopted Star's litter sister (Kaycee) and we'd take turns visiting back and forth even more often so the pups could play together. It was wonderful that they were able to get so much exercise that way, even though I walked Star faithfully every day and my husband would rough house with her in the evenings.

Grampa with Star as a puppy

Daddy rough-housing with Star

Star was so gentle that she didn't mind when the girls would dress her up in their pyjamas, complete with sunglasses and hat. She'd just sit there with a disdained look on her face as though she were thinking, "Oh my goodness, not again!" Even though Star loved her dinner and would gobble it down lickety-split, you could take the bowl away before she finished and she would not growl.

Jamie with Star on top of Kaycee

Jaclyn hugging Star

When we went away one summer and had to resort to putting her in a kennel (that was when we moved to Ottawa temporarily and our friends were still in Vancouver), we came back two weeks later to a very skinny Star. She had pined so much for us that she had refused to eat. We quickly fattened her up again, although she never got fat. After that, we never left her for more than a week at a time if we went away. That wasn't often because usually we spent our summers at Shuswap Lake at the family cabin and she just came with us.

We tried to get Star to swim in the lake. She was not too interested in the water, though, so hubby would lift her up and take her out a little ways, gently put her in the water and help her dog paddle to shore. It was so funny to see her run out of the water and shake herself. Next time hubby would try to get her, she'd run away and it seemed to us that she was laughing and saying, "No way!" However, she did love the lake area and would go exploring on her own.

After hubby died and I moved to the wilderness to teach, Star got a lot more freedom. No fenced in yards there! At first I was a bit concerned about her wandering in case she ran into a bear, but she quickly adapted and didn't go too far. I was horrified for a while because Star insisted on using the front "lawn" (and I use that term loosely) as her toilet. She refused to go into the back area and I soon found out why. Apparently, my property was the route bears would frequently use. Eventually, though, it got to the point that I'd open the door and call for Star to come home for dinner - just as though I were shouting for the kids. And there she'd come, bounding through the thicket at the back of the property, stinking for all the world like God knows what! I actually think she had a boyfriend that year!

Star had a great life with us and we loved every moment we spent with her. She started having some age problems in 1995 but we looked after her well. Poor thing would be lying asleep on the carpet while we'd be watching TV, and suddenly she'd get up realizing that she'd peed in her sleep. We never got cross with her when that happened but we did visit the Vet more often.
Then one evening in the summer of 1997, she must have had a stroke or a heart attack because she went into a seizure. I rushed her to my Vet, someone I'd known since the mid-70s. He told me that as my friend he could say, "Take her home and keep an eye on her," but as my Vet he recommended that she be put down. Her heart was failing and she'd just get worse. I took Star with me into another room and sat on the floor with her trying to make up my mind what to do. She kept kissing me and snuggling up to me but suddenly, her legs went out from under her. I remember starting to cry and hugging Star to me and telling her how much I loved her. I went outside, nodded to my friend the Vet, and left. I cried myself to sleep that night.

I'll never forget Star. I have nothing but wonderful memories of her. She was loving, gentle, protective, and obedient. After hubby died, she was one of the main reasons I got up in the mornings. When I didn't want my girls to know I was down or needed a cry, Star was there for me, snuggling up and gently giving me kisses. She was also my fitness trainer, my confidante, my child and my friend. I can't believe it's been almost 11 years since she died but I now think of her "up there" with hubby running and playing and keeping him company. Some day I'll see her again.

Rest in peace, Star
1985 - 1997


enigma4ever said...

oh she is soooo lovely...
isn't amazing how they are a part of our families and the pathes we take...and so many wonderful memories....


Liz said...

What a beautiful post! A lovely tribute to Star who was obviously such an important member of your family. It's amazing how such large dogs (like Star and my Harvey) who have the potential to do great damage, can be so sweet-natured and gentle. They are a blessing to us.

P.S. Will reply to your email today.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Oh, I am crying. She was obviously a wonderful dog and she had a wonderful family to look after her. Lovely memories you have shared with us. x

Mauigirl said...

What a beautiful tribute to your dog. I knew a Boxer when I was a little kid - always wanted to go over and visit with her, and she was very gentle with me. Star Sapphire sounds as if she was a wonderful friend and companion. We lost our dog Alice 2-1/2 years ago at age 11 and I know how hard it is to lose them.

Our "new" dog, Diva is a rescued pit bull (not in the least bit vicious - she might lick your face off though!) and she is now a great member of our family. If you didn't see my other post by Diva, here is the link!

Diva's Post

Shirl the Girl said...

What a glowing and sincerely warm tribute, Leslie. Please consider a permanent form for this. It is just what I am doing with the scrapbooks. We can all sense that the post was about much more than Star for you.

You should certainly copy, paste and print if you haven't already. Thank you for sharing with us.

leslie said...

Thanks for the lovely comments, everyone.

Mauigirl: I checked out Diva's post and thought it great! And the picture you have on Baxter's post is hilarious!

Dave said...

What a touching tribute to what must have been a very special pet. Our dog is getting on in age and I shudder to thin of how the family will be when she departs from us. We have had her for many many years. I have created a DVD to three songs with photos and videos to give to my kids the day that our dog named Sweetie passes away. A tribute to a wonderful dog.

Thanks for sharing this story with us. :-)

Sienna said...

Strewth Leslie, I am bawling my eyes out, but in more happiness for the life and love that all of you had for Star, and Star for all of you.

The pictures are so beautiful...the ending was hard mate, and I'm bawling fresh again....I am a goner when it comes to kids and animals.

Beautiful tribute.


jmb said...

Lovely tribute to a beautiful dog Leslie. Our dogs are so precious to us.
One of the hardest thing I have ever had to do was hold my beloved Cleo, my avatar, when the vet put her down. She was just full of cancer and never complained so we never knew until too late.
I've had four dogs in my lifetime but she was the best and she loved other dogs, so she did not mind going to the kennel at all. We had a very good one way out in Surrey. Dog obedience was the highlight of her life but she was so stubborn she failed the first time and had to repeat.
I'd love to have another dog but the "old scientist" says no.

leslie said...

jmb, I know what you mean about the one being so special. We had another boxer before Star, but she had a bad heart and we had to put her down when she was only 2. Then dear little Robbie (named after Robbie Burns because we brought him home on Jan.25 and his freckles made him look sort of Scottish) was good until he was about 18 months old and turned alpha. I tried him with obedience training and did everything I could to make him understand that I was the boss. But he bit too many people, including me twice putting me in the hospital, so sad to say he had to go to that big doghouse in the sky when he was 3 1/2 years old. I'd like another some day, but not until I'm too old to travel - that is my passion for now.

Nancy said...

Oh precious Star... what a great story. Thanks you for sharing these memories. Our dogs become a special part of our familys. The photos speak volumes.

Ellee Seymour said...

What a touching testimony for Star, I would love a dog too one day, I think when my sons have left home for university and I know there will be a huge gap in mylife.

beachgirl said...

Pets sure stay in our hearts forever.

My oldest had this mixed breed dog Kacie. She was jet black, part pit, lab and whatever. She had the most awesome personality. We all took turns keeping her while my son did what he needed to do. When she dropped dead in his arms we all grieved. He now has a huge shepherd. Apollo is a big baby, kind of goofy. But not Kacie.

I miss my Pomeranian. But my little love buckets are precious.

Belizegial said...

Leslie, I'm glad I stopped by today. What a beautiful tribute to Star Sapphire. Keep those beautiful thoughts flowing.


MedStudentWife said...

Star is a sweetie !!! Lovely post Leslie :) ; reminded me of Fidel's Boomer who passed away last year.

I never really knew dogs until I met Boomer (a German Shepherd and a trained SAR dog ). He was such a friendly dog.. one of those "his bark is worse than his bite" types.

He'd chase squirrels to play with them. Heck - on our honeymoon( we took him with us) we saw the elephant seals near Carmel CA & all Boomer wanted to do was go play with them.

We both miss him. We talk often about getting another dog & I'd like to get another German Shepherd. I'd also like to learn how to be a SAR dog handler.

Yes - I agree will all.. a lovely tribute Leslie.

BBC said...

I've never owned a boxer, just have cats now. But I did a post about a wonderful dog we once had.


Anonymous said...

Ok...that was beautiful...I'm crying here!!! I know what you mena..I got Bebe right before my Mom died last year...she helped me heal!! Love those critters!! Pam 'Oh Da Woods