A Dog's Obituary
Here is Merry’s obituary, written in Chilkat Valley News style, though not published there, as editor Tom Morphet does not document dog deaths, unless they are news. Merry was never in the news. She led a private life, centered on her home and family. She did not attend potlucks or parades.
Life long Haines resident Merry Lende was buried in a private ceremony on her favorite beach within hours of her death Monday afternoon. “It was low-tide, and the only place the ground wasn’t frozen, so we had to act, ” explained Chip Lende, who dug the grave. She died peacefully on her bed, with Chip’s wife Heather Lende, and longtime partner, Forte at her side. Merry’s exact age is not known, as she was an adult when she moved in with the Lende family fifteen years ago. Her death is attributed to old age. As dog-sitter Dianne Nelson said when the Lendes picked up Merry following a recent vacation, “It’s her time.”
Merry’s life was saved by Margaret Sebens at Christmastime fifteen years ago. Sebens sprung her from the then City of Haines pound on her execution day and vowed to find her a home. To that end, she brought Merry to midnight mass Christmas Eve at St. Michael and All Angels. The Lendes are members of the parish. During announcements in mid-service, Sebens said that if no one adopted the pregnant, malnourished, “but very sweet black dog” under her chair by the day after Christmas, the dog would have to go back to the pound where she’d be killed. Then she said that since the Lendes already had a black dog she would match their furniture.
The Lendes already had a Lab, a corgi and a cat, but Heather Lende agreed to take her home to their lumberyard apartment. “Really, I had no choice. My four small children were crying, it was Christmas, and she was pregnant, just like Mary had been. We even called her Mary at first. When in a visit to the vet the next week her pups were removed in order to save her life, we changed her name to Merry, for obvious reasons.”
Sarah Lende Elliott now lives in the apartment that was Merry’s first home with her own family. She said, “I remember that Dad was not too pleased, and so Mom said Merry had to sleep on my bed to be sure she didn’t tear up the presents. She didn’t. She never tore up anything. She was a perfect dog.”
Above all Merry loved to run and hike with her human companions, she never took off on her own. She climbed to the top of Mt. Riley and Mt. Ripinsky in all seasons. In spite of his early misgivings, Chip Lende grew very fond of her, praising her quiet nature and good manners. “She was polite, undemanding, and the best trail dog we’ve ever had,” he said.
Neighbor Linnus Danner called Merry a “sweet old soul” and said she always greeted her affectionately and often cheered her when she was feeling blue. “I loved Merry and she loved me."
Merry got along well with the virtual Ark of Lende family pets, from guinea pigs to chickens. She outlived her first partner Good Dog Carl, and welcomed a second, Forte, without a growl. Merry even befriended Phoebe, a notoriously disagreeable terrier. She often shared her bed with her, something family members who value their toes refused to do.
Merry was never a big eater, although she begged at the table for back scratches and would knock elbows with her nose, spilling drinks. She had slowed down recently, and her hearing was gone and eyesight weak. She hadn’t been able to hike seriously in about a year, but enjoyed daily walks on the beach through Christmas, and was thrilled to have her family home for the holiday.
Stoli Lende said although her death was not untimely, it was a shock and she already misses Merry. Stoli spent her early childhood in Bulgaria, where she was taught to fear dogs. She said Merry, and her first partner Carl, taught her to be the dog lover she is today. “I remember when someone was about to let the dogs in, I would jump on the window seat so they couldn't reach me, and Merry would come over and wag her tail.” Merry had one signature pose that endeared her to family and friends. She crossed her paws at the ankles in a ladylike way. To the end, her paws were crossed.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Merry’s memory may be made to the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel, P.O. Box 1533, Haines AK 99827. Thanks to HARK all stray Haines dogs are now cared for until they are placed in loving homes, and with luck, get to lead the life of Merry.
Merry (smaller dog) with Chip and Forte on Mt. Ripinsky
A December walk on the beach. Merry is back with Sarah, Forte bounds ahead, Phoebe scrambles and Madi is first to the porch.
Resting in peace