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It's A Gray Area: Missing Devon

It was inevitable that we would lose her, and we did. The lasting lesson is to enjoy our lives when we have them. Life is short.

September 13, 2013|By James P. Gray
  • Devonshire Cream, or Devon for short, about a year before she died.
Devonshire Cream, or Devon for short, about a year before… (Grace Walker Gray )

My wife never had a dog before she bought one as a companion for her then-6-year-old son, Morgan.

After some investigation, she got a white golden retriever, and they named her Devonshire Cream, or Devon, for short. The problem was, as I got to know Devon, I found that they had started at the top. I was raised with beagles, and truly love them and almost all other dogs. But Devon was the best living being I have ever been around.

Devon recently died at the old age of 15½ years, or 108 in "dog years." And my entire family is grieving.

As people with pets soon understand, these are not just animals, they become a part of your family — a large part. Devon became like a sibling for our son. He would play with her, and even try to get her in trouble. Then he would be gleeful when he was successful, saying things like, "Devon got in trouble."

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And, of course, we had many good family times with our dog: hikes to Holy Jim Falls, fetching tennis balls or just sleeping by the fire. One time when I organized a contest between our son and Devon to see who could win a race to fetch the tennis ball, our son won.

But he made a mistake and dribbled the ball on his way back to me, whereupon Devon quickly stole it. Tears flowed, along with accusations that "Devon cheated!"

On another occasion, our son observed that everyone in our family had different last names. His was Maeder, my wife's was Walker, mine was Gray, and Devon's was "Surecream." So for years around our house my wife and I used the last name of Surecream.

Of course, much of this happiness was caused by my wife taking Devon to a dog trainer at an early age. By the age of 3 months, Devon was able to stay, sit, come and lie down on command. In fact, my wife took Devon to our son's first-grade classroom, where Devon performed, and that made our son the envy of all of the other children, as well as the teacher.

Not only that, because my wife is a physical therapist, she took Devon to obtain a certification as a therapy dog, which is not easy to get. As my wife tells it, the certification process included lots of other dogs and took all evening, and it was cold.

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