Editors’ note: The following essay written by longtime Oak Bluffs columnist Dorothy West first appeared in the Vineyard Gazette on August 9, 1985.


Skipper, a golden retriever, spent all of his useful years as a guide dog and close companion to David Crohan and a loving friend to David’s wife, Kate, and their sons, Stephen and Thomas. He was 13 years old and had been David’s dog for 12 years. In that time he and David had not been apart more than twice, and for no longer than 24 hours. Skipper had been slowing down, however, seeming to know that his allotted time had almost run out.

When he collapsed, the veterinarian was called and said she would come. Skipper went into a coma, lying peacefully on the edge of his dying. The children, with three friends, made a garland of flowers, which Stephen, as the oldest, was privileged to place on Skipper’s head.

Kate had been making blueberry muffins, and now they were done. She had promised some to the children. Since the routine of life is often an anchor, she gave each child a wonderfully fragrant blueberry muffin. Skipper, who had been in a coma for 15 minutes, opened his eyes. Stephen went to him and offered him his muffin. Skipper ate it with pleasure. And in the way of children, each child offered him his muffin and he ate them all-to the last crumb. He slipped into a coma again, as if he were drifting into a natural sleep. In 15 minutes he roused again, lifted his head, looked around as though to fix the image of all he loved best in his mind for the journey ahead.

The veterinarian came and helped him on his way. And soon the earth received him in his resting place. And the children will remember all their lives that loving day.