A Letter to Squirt

Dear Squirt,

As you lay next to me this morning, wrapped in blankets and your white face warmed by the sun coming through the window, I am remembering the many years we have shared together.  You have always been a great companion, in fact, you and I had a “velcro” relationship.  You are a “Velcro Vizsla”, and I am forever grateful you chose me to be the one you stick to.

When I drove out to Kansas to meet you for the first time I was initially surprised at your age.  You were much older than Vizzy and Berton, your soon to be Vizsla brothers.  Your reputation preceded you as the Midwest Vizsla Rescue adored you.  You were a very special Vizsla with a large number of followers.  You still are my old friend!

As we drove back to Santa Fe across Kansas I watched you sleeping and was blown away by your body of solid muscle.  Remember that wheatfield we stopped at and ran around in?  You were ready to go point out some birds and sure enough, you did! Here is a photo I saved of that first afternoon together, you were fast!

It was a long trip home and I was anxious to get to the Rocky Mountains and the public lands, so we could camp out peacefully on that first night together.  We made it to Southern Colorado in the dark and set up camp.  You were curious about what was happening and you trusted me enough to sleep right next to me.

We continued our journey the next morning over the mountains. You were in awe of this new landscape.  Big mountains and wide open spaces.  We stopped at the Taos Gorge and hiked a bit before pushing onto Santa Fe.  Vizzy and Berton were very happy to meet you and right away you showed those youngsters that you would be in charge.  They did not seem to mind a bit, as if they knew they were in the company of a famous strong Vizsla.

Your backstory was a mystery to us, as you were a rescue.  You looked as if you had been worked very hard and behind all the muscle was a sweet and friendly small Vizsla.  I assumed you were a hunting dog and perhaps did not have owners who treated you with the love you deserved.  Meghan told me that your old Vizsla friend, Gracie, still howled when she called out “Squirt”.

Squirt on the left, Vizzy in the background, and Berton on the right.  Way up high on top of Santa Fe Baldy.

Do you remember the crazy time when I took you, Vizzy, and Berton backcountry skiing up by Taos?  You had only been in New Mexico a few days and here I was, like an over-ambitious father, hiking with an ice ax and crampons up a steep and icy snow chute.  I remember you stuck right next to me as I watched you grab on with your claws.  The younger and silly ones were already at the top of the climb and almost knocked us over as they decided to chase a pine cone all the way down to the bottom of the cliff.  That was a close call as they ran straight down the snow chute right by us!

I think that was the first time I noticed that you stuck to me all the time, no matter what.  Thank you, my old friend.

Squirt, Berton, and Vizzy enjoying the mountain views above Santa Fe.

Although Vizzy and Berton were always trying to be the center of attention, with all their endless running and gymnastics I must say that I always felt a warm glow when I looked over at you, also watching them, you were always smiling and often you sat with paws crossed in that classic Vizsla posture.  It was not just me that always noticed you.  You had a way of really gaining fans, without trying.  I think that was one of the most special things about you Squirt.  Humble, sweet, and totally loyal.

Chasing a Swallowtail Butterfly in the Taos Gorge

Considering all the places we hiked, biked, and skied together you never whined or complained, and you never got hurt.  We had that close call when you slipped off a boulder into the whitewater in the Rio Grande Gorge. Even then you did not make a noise.  I am so glad I noticed you were missing and we were able to hold onto each other and get you back to solid land.  That was close!

The Three Boys (Berton, Vizzy, and Squirt) were inseparable.  Squirt played the role of the adult in the group.

Sadly we all had to say goodbye to Vizzy.  I know you were just as shocked and devasted as I was about that.  He sure was a beauty and I know he learned a lot from you Squirt.  He looked up to you.  You let him and Berton play like the kids they were and when they needed some direction, you were great at teaching them.  I appreciate that.  Thank you.

Berton and Vizzy were like two peas in a pod.  Losing Vizzy was very hard for Berton.  I know you know this.  I just want to thank you for being a companion and friend of Berton during his time of grieving.  I think he is still grieving over Vizzy.  I am, and I am sad that he left us so suddenly at 9 years of age.  Nobody knew he had serious cancer going on inside his beautiful body.  When we buried Vizzy, I watched you go visit his grave a few times, giving your respects.  Thank you.

We were quite a team though!  The three of you guys were so much fun together.  Think of all the places we were able to see.  I will never forget these amazing times together.  The three of you made me feel alive and young.  I am so happy we took advantage of what we did together on our adventures.  Thank you.

Squirt was always a trooper.  Always had a smile on his face.

Time sort of slipped away on us though.  Didn’t it?  It seems like just yesterday that we were hiking way up in the mountains or wading through trout streams.  The reality though is that was a long time ago.  You, my friend, have lived to a very old age.  People are amazed at how long you have lived.  We do not know your exact age, since you came to us as a rescue, however, the best estimates are that you are at least 20 years old and perhaps even 22 years old.

I think your strength and determination to always please me has let you live this long life Squirt.  As you lay next to me now, with your strong muscles mostly withered away and your body tired, I sense that you are still driven to be with me.  Don’t worry friend, I am not going anywhere and I will stay by your side during this transition.  Each moment we get to spend together is so valuable now.

“Nurse Penny” taking care of Squirt. Penny watched Squirt’s every move, helped him when he fell and licked his eye and sores he had.


Adopting Penny has been interesting, to say the least.  That energetic puppy really loves you.  She cares for you like a nurse, always licking that skin tumor on your neck, or cleaning your eyes.  It is like she is your guardian angel.  We call her “Nurse Penny” for the way she takes care of you.  When you fall down, she is right there to help.  I think you like her a lot.  I am worried at how much she will miss you, Squirt.  I will keep good care of her and Berton, do not worry.  They will always be thinking of you.

Yesterday, the three of you were laying in the sun on the warm dirt by your grave.  I know that we will all visit you there when you are at rest.  I want to put a nice stone bench and a couple of spruce trees next to your spot.  We will always be close to you, Squirt.

Melinda holding the Moon for Squirt.

You will never be forgotten, my friend!  Melinda, Ping, Penny, Berton, Meghan, John, Dr. Krogdahl, Dr. Merriwether, Katy, Chiqueeta, Pete, Will and Megan, Manuel, Miles,Shannon & Ray, Teo, Terence, and many other friends are thinking about you and sending you their love.  You will always be remembered as the handsome sweet boy that you are.

Did you know that your photo may have been put on a special bottle of wine to benefit Vizlsa rescue?   You are famous and I am so proud of you.

Remember that ski race we all did together?  You were super fast and the only reason you came in last was that you wanted to stay with me, while I was in the rear photographing.  Once again, my friend, you were also determined to be with me, as my “Velcro Vizsla”.  You totally would have won the ski race if you were not looking out for me.  Thank you!

Squirt resting by the warmth of the woodstove.  Penny would always come to check on him.

I know it is hard for you now Squirt.  Your body is tired after living such a long and active life.  Remember how strong you were and how high you would jump at the back door?   Everyone always remembered you jumping like this.

Today as you laid in the sun next to me, you were very quiet and you slept most of the day.  Penny and I were very worried that this would be our last day with you by the woodstove.  I think that new medicine is too much and it is knocking you out.  Tomorrow we will go with half a pill instead.

You surprised me again though.  You got up, walked around out back, ate a whole bunch of chicken breast and had some dog treats.  Guess what?  You can now have as many treats as you want.  We just have to sneak them behind Berton and Penny, otherwise, they get jealous.

If you are in pain my dear old friend, please let me know.  As you know, the vet can come to the house to make the pain go away and we can say goodbye.  My heart hurts to think of doing that.  I hope instead you can run off to the rainbow bridge in one of your dreams.  Last night you were really running hard in a dream.  I hope that I am in your dreams, running alongside you and patting you when you stop for a rest.

I do know that you are in my dreams a lot.  I also feel you by my leg a lot, you know when you stand quietly next to me in your velcro mode.  I like that.  I like reaching down and patting you and pushing your snout against my leg.  Rubbing those big floppy ears of yours is also fun.  You like it when I rub your neck right behind your ears and you let me know by “talking”.  We will do some more of that later this evening.

We both know that we do not have much time together.  I see you hanging on, and I know you are trying to make me happy as you always do.  When I move to another room, you get up and follow me there, even though you can barely walk now.  I see that Squirt.  You are completely devoted to me.  I want you to know that your unconditional love for me and companionship has been the best gift I have ever received.  I will never forget that, Squirt.  You are a very good boy, Squirt!

I wish that I could have spent more time alone with you, or together with you, Berton and Penny.  We liked it when you came on walks with us and we did not mind waiting for you.  We are going to miss having you along with us.  Please know that we will be thinking of you a lot, and for a long time.  Our memories of you will last forever.  Your sweet smile, you sitting with your crossed paws smiling as you watch the world go by, your strong muscles and the way you would jump, sleeping on the floor with you when you were having trouble getting up on the bed, watching you sleep in your little bed next to the heater in the garage, and most of all, realizing that you were always next to me and watching my every move. I hope you are still able to keep a close eye on me, Squirt.  Thank you!

Now, sleep peacefully Squirt.  I am right here next to you and will stay here with you, no matter what.  We are all around you and grateful for all you have done and what you taught us in life.  Our Velcro Vizsla bond is permanent.

Squirt’s rescue ad.  I remember finding this and looking at each day for a week or two, then finally contacting Meghan and rescuing Squirt.  I am glad I did, and I am forever grateful that Squirt waited for me to rescue him.  Squirt, you were the perfect fit!

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.”      — Milan Kundera

46 replies
  1. Donna
    Donna says:

    My heart is breaking for you, but also bursting at the love you describe. If I could have articulated my love for Baydee, it would have read very much like this. Thank you for sharing Squirt, and some of the times you’ve spent together. You’re not alone, Ed. My tears are flowing with yours.

    Reply
  2. Judy Gusick
    Judy Gusick says:

    Wonderful tribute, Ed. It’s SO hard to let them go – been there a number of times……. 🙁 I’ll be thinking of you both…………

    Reply
  3. Joemy
    Joemy says:

    So sorry, Ed. What a beautiful tribute that was and what an extraordinary and long life your Squirt has had. We had a Siberian husky rescue that lived to 18, but 20-22 is amazing. Losing our Naya was one of the most painful experiences ever, so I feel for you in this difficult time. So glad that you have been able to adopt a puppy and carry on the Vizsla spirit.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Hi Joemy, thank you. It sounds like you have had a similar soulmate, with Naya. It is sad and painful, and yet I would not have wanted Squirt’s passing to go any other way (he does seem to be in pain). I am grateful to spend these last days patting him and loving him, thanking him.

      Reply
  4. Margaret Lewis
    Margaret Lewis says:

    Squirt, the Rainbow Bridge awaits you. Run free and strong. The love of your human will be with you forever. Thank you Ed for sharing this with us. Squirt was a devoted companion and will be greatly missed. We will shed tears with you.

    Reply
  5. Karl Chiang
    Karl Chiang says:

    I am shedding tears of sorrow and joy for you. I have buried many beautiful dogs and we have 4 wonderful 4 legged children who sleep with us! I cannot imagine all the emotions you are feeling now but I know you have loved Squirt and he knows it too as he crosses the rainbow bridge. God Bless you and Squirt.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Thank you, Karl! It is hard, and yet at the same time, I would not have it any other way. Dogs just do not live long enough and they are so important to us. I can tell you are a kind dog lover and your pups are lucky to have you.

      Reply
  6. Karen Hanson Perry
    Karen Hanson Perry says:

    Ed, this is such a heartwarming and beautiful tribute to Squirt. Total, unconditional love. My heart is breaking for you, but I know you have cherished and will continue to cherish every moment with this special pup. Extra hugs tonight to my furry pals… you are in our thoughts.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Hi Karen, thank you so much! It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to love Squirt and say goodbye in many ways to him. I know you would appreciate this too when the time arrises for your beautiful rescues. They are so important to us, and they ask for nothing and give so much.

      Reply
  7. Donna Ann
    Donna Ann says:

    My Dear Ed and Squirt,

    The love you share is such a beautiful, precious blessing and gift❤️ It is without a doubt, a perfect example of how all with dogs should feel and why dogs are mans best friend and vice versa. While I write, with tears rolling, the one thing I do know, that this love is everlasting, and when the time comes, and heaven calls, the love remains. I know our best friends not only go to heaven and are pain free running and playing in Gods garden, when our time comes, they will be greeting us with love and Licks and again, be by our sides. ???❤️???

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Thank you, Donna Ann! I agree completely, “the love for our lost ones is everlasting”. I am grateful to spend so much time with Squirt during his transition, helping him as much as he needs, sitting with him and sharing these last precious moments together.

      Reply
  8. Patty Chadwick
    Patty Chadwick says:

    Ron Dudley sent me this gift…your tribute to Squirt…I’ve just lost littermate rescues, golden/yellow labs. Got news today that the second one, Bo’s, ashes were ready for pick, but I’m not ready yet myself. I am still hurting too much…My husband has Alzheimer’s and Bo was my rock. I stiil have Taffy, a 15 yr. old rescue pit mix…who can barely walk, but tries to cheer me and take their places…I had a vizsla golden cross, I’ve czmped and mountsin backpacked, I’ve been places you’ve been…I ache for you. I ache for me…there is HUGE, BKACK HOLE in my heart and an even bigger one in my house…I’m huting!!!

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Good Morning, Patty, I am very sorry you lost Bo at this difficult time. I think those hurting moments when we have such “black holes” are reminders of how much love we have for our lost ones. I felt so much emptiness after losing Vizzy suddenly, years ago. Now I smile warmly when I think about him and how much we cared for each other. I know he loves to look down on me smiling and thinking of all our fond memories together. Our dog’s main goal is to make us happy, no matter what they are going through. Unconditional Love at its best. I wish you lots of comfort and warmth as you and Taffy work together through this difficult period, Patty.

      Reply
  9. Randy Burge
    Randy Burge says:

    Ed, Your moving tribute brings tears of joy for your loving companionship with Squirt and the deep sadness for his pending departure. Godspeed. Thanks for sharing these words and photographs.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Hi Paul, thank you for reading the letter and your kind response. Squirt is doing a bit better this morning, the ups and downs are exhausting, however, I realize how lucky we are to have more time together and his strength is amazing to see. Hope you are well Paul and look forward to catching up together.

      Reply
  10. Verne Loose
    Verne Loose says:

    Ed that is a wonderful and fitting tribute to a man’s best friend. I have one of those too in our Barkley. I rue the day he will need to leave us. But right now he seems in good health and is such a dear and loyal friend. I’m getting tears as I write this. Thanks for the great pics and your sense of wonder at nature.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Hi Verne, I am glad you have such a good dog with Barkley. It sounds like you two have a tight bond as I have with Squirt. Thank you for reading the letter, Verne, and please give Barkley some extra love from Squirt for me. Thank you!

      Reply
  11. David Greenberg
    David Greenberg says:

    Ed, this is wonderful – the purpose, photography and prose. Producing this before he leaves must have been good therapy for both of you, and I think it will make looking at it in the future all the more poignant. Thank you for sharing it.

    Reply
  12. Joanie
    Joanie says:

    Ed, I can truly say that I know your pain. 3 years ago I had to make the decision that no mother ever wants make, watching and knowing that she was in so much pain and no medication could ease it, and that she would suffer so much. We’d been able to save her when she was about 5 weeks old from the Albuquerque West Side Animal Shelter and then again 18 months prior to her passing, with emergency surgery to remove her right eye. But this time your left eye literally “Blew Out” and the specialist said she could live another 5 years, maybe. But it would be with excruciating pain. She was a beautiful 13 year old pure bred black Schipperke, some said they thought you were a pure Akita. Me, I did not care, she was my baby girl. My second daughter. Sorry for the babbling, it is just so hard to find someone else who talks about their babies so openly.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Joanie, thank you. You had to make a tough decision and it sounds like there were no other options. When that happens, you know it is the right thing to do. That happened with Vizzy, our amazing Vizsla who suddenly was very sick with spleen cancer. It was hard however it was the only option to ease his pain. The memories are so strong and loving of him.

      Reply
  13. Terence
    Terence says:

    Sorry to hear about Squirt. I always enjoyed hiking with you and Squirt, Berton, and Vizzy. I remember once watching the dogs when you were out of town and Squirt slept with his nose pressed against my back.

    Reply
  14. M Laura Gulovsen
    M Laura Gulovsen says:

    Hi Ed, What a moving tribute to your special friend. I am not going to adopt a dog at my advanced age but if anyone in my family ever does I will tell them about all the wonderful qualities in the Vizsla breed. How is the name of the breed pronounced ? Thank you for sharing this moving tribute and the special pictures.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Hi Laura,

      Thank you. Vizslas are great dogs, very athletic and at the same time super gentle lap dogs. The pronunciation is veeeez-la

      I hope you are doing well, I was thinking about you during the wildfires in your area.

      Reply
  15. gopal ramachandran
    gopal ramachandran says:

    Ed,
    great tribute to Squirt. Reminds me of my relation to Sparky, a rescue doggie who passed away in 2014. A totally, sweet doggie. Now, we have a black lab mix called Noodle, also very sweet and 2 yrs old and 110 lbs! She’s big but likes to hang out with people who will pet her, and they invariably do!

    I totally agree with your sentiments, Ed. As usual, the pix of Squirt are great, and should help a lot when he eventually passes on. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Hi Gopal, thank you so much for reading the letter to Squirt, and your kind compliments. Looking back over the photos of Squirt, over the years really has been rewarding. Hope you are doing well and Noodle is a great companion and friend, like Sparky was.
      ed

      Reply
  16. Dave Brooks
    Dave Brooks says:

    Ed, thank you for your eloquence in words, images and heart. I am forwarding this message to a friend and his Visla as I know they are a special breed.
    I believe your salutation and farewell ring loud and true for all good dog owners and lovers. It’s tough for sure, but life would be lessened to not have this bond of life and love.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Dave, thank you so much. Thank you for forwarding to your friend with a Vizsla too. You are correct, “life would be lessened to not have this bond of life and love” — exactly, Dave. Thank you for that. Take care, Ed

      Reply
  17. Leslie Seal
    Leslie Seal says:

    What an amazing journey for you and Squirt, he was very fortunate to have such a loving caretaker. Our furry friends are so amazing loving us unconditionally. My heart goes out to you for your loss, however you have so many memories to be thankful for with Squirt. I’m sure you and him will meet again, for now, know that he is always with you. I will be celebrating the life of Squirt and all our other furry friends who have had to leave this plain, thankful and knowing that unconditional does exist.

    Reply
    • Ed MacKerrow
      Ed MacKerrow says:

      Thank you, Leslie. It has been an amazing journey with Squirt. He is still hanging on and it has been so good to just be with him and comfort him as much as possible during this transition. Thank you for reading the letter to Squirt and your kind response, Leslie.

      Reply
  18. William Hutchinson
    William Hutchinson says:

    Simply beautiful, Ed.
    My special canine companions have also gifted me an essential essence that I cherish as deeply as can be….a gift like no other.
    All of your work helps to both ground me and give flight and I thank you for that.
    XO

    Reply
  19. Becky Oertel
    Becky Oertel says:

    Ed,
    May your heart always be filled with the light that Squirt has given you and may you continue to share that light as you have done with such a beautiful letter.

    Reply
  20. Corry Clinton
    Corry Clinton says:

    Thank you, Ed, for sharing such a moving letter with us. A dog like Squirt will never be forgotten. He has touched many souls, especially yours. I am sorry for the sad and heartbreaking journey you have to go through, but remember Squirt’s unconditional love. What a gift! Thinking of you, CC.

    Reply

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Supernumerary Rainbow over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico.

Rainbow with supernumerary bows and anti-crepuscular rays , New Mexico

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