A Tribute to "Simba"

by Paul L. Davis


This past week I lost a dear friend and companion. I can not say he was my dog or that I owned him. I am just glad I had the chance to accompany him through his life. My daughter, who was a tomboy at the time, picked Simba because he was picking on and knocking down all of the other dogs in the pen.  I later found out that meant he was an "Alpha" male, although I'll never regret our choice, but I would encourage you to think that through a little when you choose a puppy. It meant he liked to eat, to chew, to pull on his leash, to be the host that greeted everyone to our home, to take up the majority of the bed, to jump into the pool at any moment.  If you talked to me then I would have told you he was a nuisance and created unbearable pain that took all my time.  He ate my couch, he ate the vinyl tiles off of my floor, he also had a taste for linoleum, he ate two carpets, and textured a few doors with his handy carving tools (claws).  I can tell you now though, I miss him. He was always there in my bad  times and good.  I had a hard time not smiling when I was with him.  He would accompany me on my morning runs.  We lived on Lake Michigan, and we would have to go down to the beach to stroll and fetch sticks in the better months.  He would go with me every week to Chicago and help me take of my Mom when she was diagnosed with cancer.  She loved Simba, and he loved to sit with her while she'd pet and spoil him with treats.  He sat with me and her when she passed on, just quietly gently looking and being there for all of us.

He taught me how to move on in life because there is no one better at knowing how to give themselves more completely to the moment than a lab. And I've learned from him nothing get's you closer to your future than moving forward.  Particularly when forward is a big honkin stick or a bright yellow ball. Time heals all wounds including the ones I suffered from his tug of wars.  He would fetch big sticks, better known as tree limbs and tree trunks, and he would dare me to take them from him.

The heat and later life. 

When Magie and I moved to Arizona, Simba was able to take his first flight. It did not go exactly to plan. All the preparations were made and we were on our way to O'Hare.  When I walked up to the ticket agent she informed me that dogs could not fly to Arizona past the month of April even though I had made all the arrangements and paid the fees.  After wrangling and trying to keep him from destroying the terminal, they finally gave into his cuteness and put us on a flight to LA. Still 8 hours from Phoenix and the middle of the night, he had a bright idea to drive across the desert. (you should notice a lab is also handy to blame things on). That night was very unsettling.  I couldn't find him at the airport and then when I did he had obviously had a bad flight. So with luggage a  huge dog and dog carrier, we boarded a rental car bus. With the smell and dazed look in our eye, no one sat by us or spoke. We climbed into a car and started our trek across the desert.  There are a lot of  people who must like Art Bell, a radio host who talks about aliens, UFOs and paranormal government conspiracies in the area between LA and Phoenix.  Every channel seemed to be Art Bell, and Simba was not very talkative so I needed to have something to keep me awake.  Simba taught me that night that airplanes are not the best transportation and that people in Palm Springs have big lawn ornaments in the shape of giant fans.  Moving to Phoenix was good, and we made great friends.  Simba would nag and nag until I would take him to the dog park in the morning and the night dog park too. We have met some of the nicest people through him and his way of warming up to people and their dogs.  There was always a ball to chase, and he loved going into the pool or down to the Salt River. We would always take him for walks, and he loved to just ride with us anywhere we'd go the heat would allow. We all went on trips throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and California. One of the most memorable was a trip to Estes Park, where he came face to face through the cabin window with a huge bull Elk and his cows. Luckily Simba stayed calm and they looked into each others eyes for a bit and moved on.  I think they both knew it was ok.  After two surgeries to repair his legs, two eye surgeries for sticking his eyes into bushes too often and a crown to repair his tooth, we finally had the news we dreaded. He had cancer, and they could not find where it was coming from. That is when Simba taught me the most valuable lesson, courage and loss.

From the day he was diagnosed to this past weekend when he died in our arms, he never complained. We tried all the treatments, all the home remedies but we could not fix him this time. Finally the cancer moved into his brain and he started to lose his balance and sleep so much more.  On Sunday morning he finally went into seizures and would not come back.  Again no complaints, no messes, just a little fear and a lot of courage.  I believe up until the end he was more concerned with who would take care of us, than what he was going through. Up until the end he was our friend, our companion, just simply Simba.

Sendoff to a friend:

As you set off my trusted friend, may you alway's be warm and well fed. May the windy breeze run through your golden coat and gently lift your blond ears. May the ground be soft beneath your feet, and the terrain be gentle and not too steep. As you walk with brothers and sisters and get lost into the daily games please take the time to hear the sound of all the life that abounds. See the beauty, smell the aromas that intoxicate your gift of scent. Enjoy the clear clean water of endless pools. You gave more to us, than us to you.  I hope someday we can see you and be with you once again.

Thanks Simba, Love Paul and Magie...