An old friend lost, again

Years ago, our first dog, Phoebe, had a best friend, and her name was Socks. Socks was a Border Collie belonging to our good friends, Celia and Phil, who, for a time, lived just a couple of miles away from us in Vermont, but now live much too far away, in Cardiff, Wales.

When Phoebe and Socks first met, they were both young dogs (maybe a year old?) and they had boundless energy. In standard doggie fashion, whatever one did, the other had to do, too.

I’m sure Socks has had many adventures in her life, but the one that touched us directly is the time she and her family came for New Year’s Eve, probably 12 years ago. Typically, it was one of the coldest nights of the year, but we braved the below-zero temperatures to go outside and light off a few traditional fireworks. Poor Socks was terrified of their booming and crackling, and she bolted somewhere into the night woods.

We searched for her until at least 2 am. Then Socks’ family went home and we all had a fitful night of worry.

We woke up the next morning, feeling sad. What a way to start the new year. We checked in with Celia and Phil throughout the morning, searched the woods near our house, drove up and down the road, called her name. No sign of her.

Sometime in the mid-afternoon, as we moped in front of the wood stove, feeling lonely for Socks and feeling terrible that we’d had anything to do with her disappearance, we heard two forepaws hit the back door. And then we saw her smiling face in the window. We shouted, threw open the door to let her in, and ran for the phone. She had spent the night in 20-degree-below-zero temperatures, and she seemed fine. We assume she’d dug herself a little pit in the snow, curled herself around her nose, and napped the night away, happy to be away from those awful fireworks.

When Celia and Phil decided to move back to the UK, they knew they couldn’t leave Socks in the states, so they made the difficult decision to ship her across the ocean and put her in the required six-month quarantine.

It was a good thing they did, because that gave them a bonus 10 years with Socks. Years during which Socks welcomed two more gorgeous little girls to the family, as well as bunnies, Maddie the dog, and probably several other furry friends. Years of walks in the park across the street, and lolling sunny days in the back garden. Years of cuddles with her growing family.

I last saw Socks a couple of years ago, when I went to London and made a two-day excursion to Cardiff for a visit. She seemed aged then, but she was still moving around pretty well. We had already lost Phoebe by then, so it was bittersweet to see Socks still up and around, but certainly more sweet than bitter. I took this picture on that visit.


Today, Celia wrote to say that Socks had died this morning, peacefully, in the garden behind the house. She lived a good, long life, with a family who truly loved her. She had about the happiest of dog lives you can imagine. And we miss her.

And I’ll be waiting for the sound of those paws hitting the door.

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