Hail the Goer

Sita passed away a week ago on November 28, 2021. She was with her family and pain-free.

She succumbed to hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive cancer that often takes the lives of German shepherds among other breeds. Last July we performed life-saving surgery on her, and in the months ahead she did a regimen of chemotherapy. We were able to extend her life by four months, and during that time she was happy, pain-free, and able to lead a normal life, including one last backwoods camping trip with me.

I adopted Sita as a 10-week puppy from a woman in rural Virginia. The litter had been dropped off at her house. Sita quickly grew into a very large dog to become a healthy 100# as an adult. She participated in all family events, including my annual father-son trips with Gabe, and many backcountry camping trips, just the two of us.

When we were in the woods together she always took the lead on the trail, stopping every few minutes to turn around and make sure I was keeping up. I would just talk to her in English, not dog commands. We navigated fallen trees and river crossings often. Sometimes that meant taking off our packs and finding other ways to get them across for safety’s sake, then crossing with a lead connecting us lest the river sweep one of us away.

On our last trip we were hiking along and she uncharacteristically left the trail to climb a rock. That’s her on that very rock in the photo above. She scaled the rock and then just stood there for about 10 minutes looking around. She loved to survey the area. At home, she could often be found on the second floor staring out one of our windows for long periods of time.

Dogs are service animals, giving all they have to their family. When it is time for them to leave this earthly plane it is so important that we are with them, offering comfort and reassuring them. I am grateful beyond measure that I was able to hold her and offer her comfort in her last moments. She was always a hearty voyager and now she has made the final voyage of a lifetime.

Sita will live in my heart forever.


Om Gate Gate Paragate, Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha.
Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone Beyond Beyond, Hail The Goer.
– the Heart Sutra

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