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Saying Good-Bye to Lefty, Dog of the People  

May 22, 2014

I met my friend Susan for coffee a few days ago, eager to catch up. We’ve known one another since about 1999 when I was a newer Feldenkrais practitioner and she was beginning her Feldenkrais training. Those were the days of a Seattle before in-fill and arguments over mass transit that would never be built, and the days of Lefty the puppy.

Over coffee, Susan told me they were nearing the end-of-life for her dog, Lefty, probably any day due to a sarcoma growing on his jaw, interfering with his eating and sniffing and chewing treats. When we parted, I walked with her to her car and said goodbye to one of the most amazing dogs I’ve ever known. 

Lefty reunited with June, who walked him for 10 years, January 2014.

Lefty reunited with June, who walked him for 10 years, January 2014.

Lefty was a black lab mix with a beautiful personality. He handsomely sported a white patch on his chest and a white left front paw, hence the name Lefty. Whether he was a puppy or an adult dog, when you were around Lefty, you felt lighter, jauntier. Watching him inspect his world and interact with humans, animals, and toys left you smiling in that way of being included even though it wasn’t you doing the chewing or sniffing or begging. 

In those early days, when Susan left town to visit family or go on vacation, I was one of Lefty’s many people. At the dog park, he immediately began playing with the other dogs and chasing a ball. Invariably, a human walked over and extended a hand and assumed I was Susan since I was with Lefty. When I admitted I was just dog-sitting, we spent the next fifteen minutes discussing what a wonderful dog Lefty was. 

Lefty’s devotion to Susan included loving and sharing with all of her people. It might feel like an exaggeration to say that hundreds of people love Lefty, but I think that’s actually true. He touched lives everywhere he went, like some kind of ambassador for peace and since Susan loves to travel, Lefty has met many humans.    

One of the loves of a life.

One of the loves of a life.

Eventually, Susan migrated to Portland and made her home there with her husband and more recently with their daughter. Lefty took it all in stride, happy to be with his people. By then, Lefty was into his adulthood with a dapper sobriety about him. Those young years of romping and running were beginning to show, but he was full of life and enjoyed every single moment. 

Walking with family, Oregon Coast.

Walking with family, Oregon Coast.

Over these last couple of years, Lefty needed a little longer to greet guests arriving at the house, sometimes struggling to get up from his nap, but always proper about greetings and monitoring who was on the property. 


Susan and Israel said goodbye to Lefty on Tuesday night, May 20th.


When a dog has followed you around for 15-ish years, daily, devotedly, there is no mistaking when he is gone. And, when a dog like Lefty has held as many hearts as he has for friends in Seattle, Portland, Pittsburg, and beyond, in his near-human dog way, it calls for a moment of silence, or many moments of silence. 

I’m taking one now. 

Lefty, Dog of the People.

Lefty, Dog of the People.

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From → Life

One Comment
  1. Stephanie permalink

    I will pause for Lefty tonight.

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