Friday, August 23, 2013

End of summer

This isn't actually the post I planned. I thought I would talk about how the dogs and I are adjusting to our empty nest, now that both human children are away at college. But I learned this afternoon - via social media, of course - of the death of a long-time friend. And, since my journey with terriers included her through the years, I believe this is certainly more important.

Elizabeth Leaman was well-known in the Welsh Terrier community, as was her kennel,Hapitails. I first "met" Liz around 1997, when I joined a email listserv dedicated to Welsh Terriers. Several years later, if I remember correctly, she offered to submit one of the recommendations I needed for membership in the national breed club, the Welsh Terrier Club of America. 

Liz and I didn't always agree, but I do believe that she always believed strongly in whatever stance she took on an issue. We met in person only once, at the 2004 Montgomery weekend, where I actually had been nominated for office, but was defeated. It stung to know that Liz was on the opposing "team" that year, but I came to understood that I was young to the breed and a pet owner rather than a breeder and her loyalties lay with breeders first. Good, bad or indifferent, she stood by her beliefs. You have to respect that in a person!

Not long after - just a few weeks - I was rocked by the dissolution of my marriage. My Welsh Terrier family did much to support me in the months (and years) to come. When the children, dogs and I moved to a new house, but one without a secure fence for the dogs, Liz sent funds in the hope it would be one less worry as we made our new life. I know she offered the same to others through the years; it was her way of "paying it forward," I suppose. 

Family illnesses and other commitments kept Liz away from the Welsh listservs in recent years, although she remained a member of at least two such groups. I sent emails periodically, just to say I missed her and to ask about her life and family. I didn't expect replies, and I heard from her infrequently. As is always the case, I wish I had written in the past week or two. I wish I had reached out one more time, to continue the connection begun more than 15 years ago. 
Image courtesy of Rosemary Ratliff/

There are so few left who knew the dog world as Liz knew it. But I am certain that tonight, many Hapitails dogs are celebrating "Nana Liz's" arrival at the Bridge. Enjoy your reunion, Elizabeth Leaman. You will be missed here on Earth.