In another couple of days it would’ve been my Niamh’s 16th birthday. She has been gone for almost 7 years now and I’ve never had a day I haven’t stopped missing her….. We named our collie family after her each with her name upon their AKC registration. She was that once in a lifetime animal one bonds with in a special way…. and she was followed by another two once in a lifetime collies who are both gone now.. Trevor forever and big Hallie. Her life was as blessed as it was tragic in its beginning and end….. I miss her and I guess I always will…..
This is a letter I had written to my Niamh 364 days after she had passed away. I had written this to help preserve my thoughts and feelings and my memories of Niamh. Its not that good or important other than it is more memories of Niamh and a snapshot of of time. Like the silly sentimental old fool I am I read this at her grave the next day at 10 am, the moment she passed away. Perhaps you had a dog or cat you felt like this about? Hopefully this will help you to know better my Niamh. For all its faults, its sentimental sillyness it is still how I felt and still feel….
MY LETTER TO MY NIAMH OF THE MISTY MEADOW
Thank you Niamh,
For coming into my heart and healing it as you did.
When you came you were so quiet, just observing.
I took you everywhere and you watched and were waiting….
for what I was not sure at the time.
You were first class in obeying any command, so eager to please.
I laugh as I remember teaching you not to eat the cat food.
Oh how you obeyed me…. I watched as you one day looked at the
cat food, licking your chops. Then, immediately you ran to my side,
not knowing I had saw you. You sat next to me, staring at me
till I looked at you and then you drooped your head and looked away.
Several times you did this till I asked: “Cat Food?”
Your expression of sorrow and regret melted my heart,
after all you never touched it, you just thought about it.
You told on yourself! But, that was you, honest to a fault.
Oh how proper and reserved you were.
For a year we thought you were just shy… till one day I
realized you had been taught to be that way, that you didn’t
know how to play. Oh, we spent the day playing and doing
all the things you had probably wanted to do for that year,
but were taught not to do for “Show dogs don’t do that.”
After that day, you became the lively, robust, active girl I loved.
You found your voice, you became the dominant force in the household.
A force of good, not evil, a force of love, truth, goodness.
A life force that brought so much to so many.
You became the boss of the collies here. You herded the kids,
protecting them. You would break up the other collies roughhousing or
wrestling, until they took it outside. Ah, you took charge of the
house bringing order and reigning in chaos. Through this, you
learned by my facial expressions when I didn’t like something, always
keeping an eye on me. Then acting appropriately. This grew to where
we would look at each other and knew what we were thinking without
the use of expressions. You looked into my eyes and saw my soul and
I saw yours.
I smile as I remember you learning each word, each spelling of the
word regarding the postal lady. Then you would lay in ambush to jump
up when she came barking your joyously Lassie Bark! It sounded just
like the movies with Lassie, which was unusual for those were males
who have bigger barks. But, not you, you barked like you did
everything, you gave it your all! You knew what mail, post, postal,
letter, delivery, stamp, and each of their spellings meant. You
learned walk, stroll, stretch, run, ride and Buick, their spellings
and that when mentioned it meant going for a walk. You were always
watching, always listening. You always knew, and if you didn’t you
learned quickly. I laugh as I remember you watching and listening,
as we spelled a word out and then pausing, thinking and then throwing
your head back glancing at us out of the corner of your eye as you
barked letting us know you knew what was going on. What a joyful
sound it was.
Happily I remember how you would jump up on the bed, taking Darcy’s
place as she was ready for bed. The look in your eyes and your
clinging to me as you made it clear you loved me and wanted her to
know. It was cute and funny and you always would wait until you were
told you were a good girl, something you relished, before laying down
next to the bed allowing Darcy to sleep.
I hold dear to my heart, how a year before you passed, the day we
went on vacation how you joyously leapt into my arms as we returned
after being gone for 18 hours. How I held you telling you how you
were my butterball baby as you ate it up, groaning in pleasure and
batting your eyes lovingly at me (where you learned that is still a
mystery.) Then, how you would not leave my side, even after we went
to bed, laying next to me with your paws wrapped around me…
groaning softly your pleasure at my being home. How, once a hour or
so you would wake up, sniff my face and groan in happiness then
cuddle up closer and fall back asleep only to do it again a hour
I remember the tilt of you head when I would talk to you, as you made
sure you understood my words…. how you always sat next to me
wherever we were at and if you felt I was vulnerable or might be
threatened would sit in front of me protecting me….
I remember how I would talk to you and you reacted to every word,
your ears twitching, your eyes expressing love and understanding, how
you wiggled in your skin your delight at being talked to. Ah, you
loved attention and loved giving it to me.
The days when you went for walks (something I didn’t do much the last
few months of your life since the weather was so rotten that year,
much to my regret) were special. You had to be the lead collie,
walking your little show strut, making me proud for you were something
to behold when you strutted. You did this strut when I called you in
the back yard, strutting across the backyard, passing all the running
collies and never breaking that strut or even looking like you were
working. You had to be the first in, the first out, the first fed,
the first loved because that was your position in the order of the
pack. Ppl didn’t realise you had come from a kennel where you were
the bottom collie…. and when I backed you the first time in your
asserting your alpha role you took the role over and led the way.
Your leadership mostly gentle and inspiring. Even when you had to
assert yourself it was quick, a good show and no one ever was bit or
hurt. You knew how to do it with class.
I laugh as your sleeping antics… laying on your back, with your
head in strange positions looking as if your neck were broken, with
me checking you out to see if you were okay only to have you look up
lovingly wagging your tail, your body wiggling in joy at my attention.
I cherish our sitting under the tree watching the world going by,
happy because we were together. Our time snuggling together laying
on our backs looking up with your head in the crook of my neck, as we
just enjoyed our time together. The time I fell asleep on my back
with my head angled back and snoring .. waking myself up with my
snoring and then hearing you snore and seeing you laying next to me
in the exact same position… snoring your head off… what a clown
The cold winter nights when you would lead the collies in jumping on
the bed and snuggling up to us… all of us keeping warm. Inevitably
you would sigh and groan your pleasure…. and the other collies one
after another would do so.. this lasting for minutes as you all would
groan, us joining in finally after we would stop laughing at the
I could go on Niamh….. forever about you. You were my Niamher da
diver, my butterball baby, the hussy when you flagged Teddy (who was neutered!), the ra
ra Niamh, and a multitude of other names that fit each special
So many great memories…. so much love. You brought so much to me
Niamh. You came after MacKenzie died, slowly healing my heart with
your love and attention. You knew I had lost a friend. You knew and
you lovingly healed me. You would sit next to me at his grave looking
at his grave knowlingly. Then putting your paw in my hand and whining
till I would accept your love.
Then as the years passed you loved me totally, teaching me patience,
what true love meant, how to live life, bringing so much joy and
happiness to me, especially during some of the darkest days of my
life, you were always there loving me, letting me know you were there
for me, my right hand gal ready to do whatever it took to make me
You gave and gave and gave…. and when you died, you even obediently
snapped out of your unconsciousness to look up at me one last time,
obeying my calling of your name….
Yet, even in death you gave to me. Because of your death, the
inspiration you gave me from your life I founded a kennel in your
name, I found a nice new friend who love collies and
added new collies to our family, collies who by chance (more like
fate I think) are of your family’s bloodline. New friendships, new
collies, a new focus in life with a new appreciation of each moment
because of you Niamh… because of you.
Despite the pain, I go on. I know you wouldn’t want me sad….
you wouldn’t want me to just fade away and wilt in life. Nope,
you taught me too well girl. You taught way too well….
We have 7 collies now Niamh, and I love them all, cherish them all,
and would never give any of them up for any reason. Yet, none of
them are you, none of them can be you, for thats not life. I love
them all, and it is good! But, its not you and its not the love I
have for you, for it can’t be…. there is only one you.
I see you everyday.. in my mind, in the pictures, at your graveside.
I visit you daily, telling you I will always love you for I always
I tell you what a good girl you are… for you still affect me daily,
this sounds like its about me.. but its not Niamh… its about you.
Its also about how lucky I feel to have known you, shared with you,
loved you, walked with you, played with you, laughed with you and
shared the time you had here on earth with you. I was the lucky one,
for I am sure I never gave to you what you gave to me and for that I
am forever thankful.
Thank you Niamh…. for all of it… all of the memories, the fun,
the smiles and laughs, for the love and for most of all being who you
are. It is time to celebrate your life now Niamh. The best way I
know how is to tell your story, share what you did and to live my
life better, according to the lessons you taught me. You taught well
Niamh. Your influence still ripples through our home and lives. I
wonder if you knew how much you affected us all.
We have 7 collies now and at times it is lively, but for some reason
it was livelier when you were here. You had a way of bringing life, a
swirl of exuberance to life as you strutted through it with class,
grace and love, giving it your all to please everyone around you.
So, thank you Niamh!!!! Thank You! There never was and never will be
another you and thats okay with me, for I was so blessed to have the
only you… what a lucky fate that was.
So Niamh, tomorrow I will remember and grieve, at 10 am my heart will
sink, but then I will smile tearfully and remember. But I will do
more than remember my butterball baby, I will live in your shadow
(for you were and are so much better than I am), with your life
lessons, knowing I was so deeply blessed to have spent the time I
did, with a sweet collie who changed my life so deeply.
Changed my life and my soul, bringing such deep lessons that I will
never be the same again. I thank God for knowing you, for the
blessing of having you in my life. Thank You Niamh!
The day will come Niamh when I will let go of this world,
we will once again meet and cling joyfully to each other and
then I will look into your loving eyes once again and whisper:
I LOVE YOU MY NIAMH OF THE MISTY MEADOW!