Last updated on March 18, 2019
She never leaves me, my soul, my thoughts, she’s eternally there. What she did for me, words can’t express, but I will try. These recollections are with me daily, so fresh in my mind, every single memory with her. I wouldn’t have this story, or the memories to share if it weren’t for my mom. I was ten years old, and she followed her dreams. She packed us up in a u-haul, and we drove to South Dakota with our car hitched to the back. I will forever be grateful to her for instilling in me the passion to dream, to follow your intuition, and to appreciate every lesson learned.
I’ll never forget the day we pulled up in front of our new home. As I got out of the u-haul, I was surrounded by trees, trees, and more trees. Little did I know at the time how my imagination would relish living in the woods. Our new home was the most beautiful octagon shaped cabin I had ever seen. I could go on, and on but that is a story for a different day. We were now living in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and what a sight it was.
I cannot recall how long we had been living there before I had met her. What I can tell you is that I knew she was my kindred spirit, and we were inseparable the moment we met. Her name was Totem. She was a Husky, Wolf mix, full of life, and energy. Together, we made the perfect pair. Totem lived behind me, and to this day I could describe to you the details of the wooded path I walked countless times to see her. Before I could see her, I would hear her. First I’d hear her yelp with excitement, I think she might have been saying “my friend is here”. Then I could hear her running towards me, and if you could have seen the looks on both of our faces, priceless. Sometimes she’d knock me down when greeting me, and I’d laugh and hug her so tight. Other times we just knew an adventure was ahead of us, and we had to get started immediately.
There was an understanding between her and I that needed no words. A bond so intense that we cried for each other when we weren’t together. Like most kids, I hated being grounded. For some reason, I had a really hard time getting home before dark. My mom understood my love for Totem, the woods, and the outdoor adventures, but that didn’t take away her concern for my safety. Hence the reason I was grounded, most of the time. After school, I couldn’t wait to get home to Totem. We’d go off in the woods for hours at a time. While out there, she was my protector. She watched over me, my steps, and any other animals that might be lurking in the shadows. We would build foundations for little cabins we’d never finish. Climbed mountain after mountain, every time hoping to discover something new and exciting. Together we would find our way home. Oh, and the amount of mud we played in. We definitely paid for it when we got home to our adults, who were not so pleased with us. But between you and I, I think they laughed when we weren’t looking at our love for life.
When summertime came around, I was on break from school, and there was no stopping us. The adventures of Totem and Dani continued. Until one day, Totem was following another dog named Toby that lived in our area. Toby was a little rambunctious, and kept on a tight leash most of the time, but not this day. Before I knew it, I was running down to the main road where I was told Totem was after being hit by a car. My heart sank to my feet when I saw her lying there. She was crying, and it destroyed me seeing her in pain. After returning home from the vet hospital, I was told that Totem’s hind leg was broken, and that she must stay off of it as much as possible for quite some time. Since it was summer, and Totem’s adults still had to work, and my mom being the wonderful person she is, I spent every waking moment with her. We watched movies like “The Bear” while laying on a huge bean bag. Moe “Totem’s cat brother” would walk by and plop down next to us from time to time. I can’t tell you how many afternoons we spent laying in the shade underneath the Bronco eating treats, taking naps, and talking. Before we knew it summer was over, and Totem’s follow up appointment at the vet went better then we ever imagined it would. We were told her wound had healed completely. Even the vet was surprised by her quick recovery.
Totem and I had more adventures together before we moved to Rapid City. I saw her a few times after, and our hearts were mended for those moments. It has been almost 23 years since I saw her, and I miss her more each day. My words simply won’t do her or our memories justice. Looking back now, I had no idea the impact she would have on my life. To this very day, I still have dreams about her. Dreams that appear so real. I’m back at our old cabin, walking the wooded path towards her home, and she comes running out to me. We fall over embracing each other, both feeling a sense of completeness. I wake from these dreams crying each time. They feel so real. I miss her doesn’t seem to cover it. She was me, and I was her. Totem, my kindred spirit lives within me, guiding me. She reminds me to stay wild, and wandering just as we were, years ago.
Thank you for taking the time to read this!