As she called me to get awake, I could smell smoke. The moment I saw the barn, I knew it was all but lost, but I had hoped our sheep and Blue Heelers had gotten out. We went out quickly to make sure the fire would not catch on the other buildings.
The cold wind hit me as I stepped out the door and I immediately saw that the barn roof had already come down. Our hay was on fire as well, and it would take days to put out all the smouldering hot spots. My kids came out shortly after, to help.
So badly I wanted to get our animals out of the barn, but I could tell it was already too late to save whatever was in the barn. The whole time I was hoping to see the dogs come around the corner waging their tails, happy to see me, but they never came...
I told Heather, our young daughter, to go see if the sheep had made it out. Good news came that the back door had been left open and the sheep were all alive! The funny thing about animals is that sometimes when there is a barn fire, they run back into the barn thinking it is the safest place from the fire. Thankfully, the sheep stayed outside of the barn, in their outside shelter.
The other great news to come out of it was that our male dog named T-Bone survived because we did not have him in the barn at the time. He was in his dog house. The two females named, Muggsie and Dixie (our first Dixie), were both in the barn because they were ready to have puppies any day.
This part was very painful to our children in particular, who had so much looked forward to having puppies of their very own. The cause of the fire was a suspected electrical short. It was financially devastating and painfully heartbreaking to lose my dogs, but life does go on. Sometimes it's just one day at a time.
The sad truth is that good dogs die, and it can be a very painful part of life. They were our allies, work mates, and more than loyal friends to our whole family. There were more than a few tears shed over the next few days. We told stories to each other of how great the dogs were. Some stories made us laugh, some made us cry again. We are people, you know it is ok to be human and when things really hurt the heart…we cry.
Like from the classic Disney movie, Old Yeller, at the end of the movie the father says to his son, “Sometimes life will slam you down, so hard it feels like your insides will come out. But we need to move on and see the good around us.”
Five things we did to feel better after the death of my dogs.
1. We told stories of the fun and good times we had with them.
2. We went and bought two more Blue Heelers to replace the ones we lost as soon as we could. They will never be the same because every dog is different, yet it does help. We, as people, need to give our love away to friends, family, and of course our dogs. The love the Blue Heelers give back to our kids and family is just hard to replace.
3. We put all the love we could into T-Bone that a family could muster.
4. We reminded ourselves of all the great things we had left after the fire: our family, our home, one dog, our sheep, our heath, and so on. Thinking and talking about the good around us does one good in hard times. There is always something to be thankful for.
5. We kissed and hugged each other...and maybe even T-Bone.
Months later, we found two puppies to replace our loss. One puppy came from Estevan, Saskatchewan, and the other puppy was from Saskatoon. Sometimes it is hard to find Blue Heelers when one wants them, but it is worth the wait and distance once you get one of these dogs. Today we have two new breeding females Izzy and Blue (Blue has been since retired). They are not the same as the ones we lost, but they are growing on us fast. Easy to train as always. Training does take some work, but what great things don’t take time and some work in life? Like family, homes, and of course our pets. Blue heelers just make training look easy, that’s all. Read the training page on this site if you need help.
Written by Peter N. Mast
Author of the action adventure book: McVanBuck Call of the Lighter. If you enjoyed this story of our dogs, then perhaps you will like this book also.