They told us that he was a pretty good dog, but that he tended to run off, was not really house-broken and would relentlessly chase after the chickens. He was not quite a year old, and had been found running around town, homeless and hungry, and nobody would claim him.

We decided to bring him home for a few days on a trial run to see if he would fit into our creek valley life.

He immediately took to Greg, and Greg quickly taught him that the chickens were ours and were not to be chased. We were living, at the time, in our small, 388-square-foot house, and the dog must have imagined that he was simply sharing a somewhat larger crate with these two new people.

He never once made a mess inside and would gently knock on the door when he needed to go outside. We decided to name him Russell, after the town where he was found. It soon became very apparent that Russell not only took to Greg, but followed Greg’s every move, and I would always find Russell within arm’s length of his doting person.

When Greg worked our farm fields, I’d see Russell following the tractor up and down the field for hours, only leaving for an ever-so quick break to swim in the creek on those particularly hot creek valley days.

And whenever visitors would stop by the farm, Russell would gently greet them and then plant his 85-pound weight squarely on their feet, hoping to prohibit their movement, so they would be forced to rub his head and scratch behind his ears forever. He had a quite a fanship following.

Our grandchildren could bend him over backward, climb across his belly and give him treats that he would gently pluck from their small hands.

When I brought him to visit an elderly friend, he went right to her side and lay his head in her lap so she could love him. They looked as though they could have stayed that way forever, but time marches on.

Eight years passed, and Russell slowed down. He stopped running and swimming, and in time, refused to even eat or drink.

I called our vet, and she said to stop by at the end of the day. It had become difficult for Russell to even breathe, and he did not want to lie down, so we put him in the back seat of the truck where he could lay his head on the center console and rest somewhat more comfortably.

The truck was one of Russell’s favorite places. My hand on his head, we drove up to court together. He waited for me outside in the truck, head on the console, and when my hearing was over, we drove up and down the country roads and I was able to rub behind his ears. We drove for hours until we returned to the creek, where we gathered up Greg and drove to the vet’s office.

Russell did not want to, and by this time was most likely not even able to get out of the truck, so our vet came outside. She climbed into the back seat, and we all sat in the truck together, Russell’s head in my lap, Greg rubbing his ears by the open door, and our dear dog fell sound asleep.

Back at the creek, we dug a deep hole in a beautiful spot, and lay our dear dog down. He was tired, and even though it is difficult to say goodbye, he was ready to sleep. Somehow, though, I know that he would only lie still for a while, and that in no time he will decide to go for a swim, and then chase after a deer, and maybe even climb the hill to bury a bone, and that every night he will look down from the stars at his favorite people. He will always be our gentle fellow, a gentleman among dogs and all living creatures.

He will forever hold a very special place in our hearts.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them at