Guardian and Peacemaker of Coltons Point
Last night, July 28, Holly passed away. Abandoned as a child, spending the next decade relying on a handful of kind people around Coltons Point for an occasional meal but otherwise living outside and alone through summer and winter, rain and snow, Holly became the sort of dog movies are made about.
An Irish Setter, Holly took a long time before she came to trust humans again and she was always prepared to take care of herself. But she did so much more by becoming friends with families and elderly people in need of companionship, taking walks with people, and gradually becoming the Guardian and Peacemaker of Coltons Point.
On occasion she would adopt a family spending nights in their yard guarding the place in exchange for food and kindness. Then she would move on. Nancy and Judy were a couple of the adopted friends and were devoted to Holly and her well being.
I first met Holly about seven years ago when she would be lying on the St. Clements Museum grounds looking as if she ruled Coltons Point. Everyone that passed seemed to know her. Then I would see her and another older dog taking walks to the small island at the end of Coltons Point almost every day. Later I found out Holly would open the fence where the old dog stayed and get her and take her for a walk.
One day her old friend died and she began appearing in the yard outside our house. Soon she befriended our puppy Coolin who was to grow into a giant Irish Wolfhound. Holly could barely walk from having injured hips and lying out in the cold rain and snow year round.
After some time I was able to coax her into the house and as I nursed her back to health she became Coolin's teacher and Guardian keeping all other dogs and animals away from him until she taught him the ways of survival. But the playful pup had a few things to teach Holly in return, mostly how to live like royalty as the Irish Wolfhound in ancient days could only be owned by the kings and their court.
Holly learned early how to find food and she was always perfectly groomed because she went swimming in the river every day in the morning. But Coolin convinced her to accept the royal lifestyle he enjoyed with beds indoors, fresh cooked food, pampering and lots of love.
She taught him how to herd skunks without getting sprayed. She single-handedly nearly wiped out the muskrat population of Coltons Point when she was viciously attacked and slashed by one with half of her jaw bone exposed. She never lost a fight with another dog no matter the size or age but she never hurt the dogs she conquered, just knocking them down and holding their heads down with her paws until they came to their senses.
Sometimes she and Coolin would arch their heads to the sky and howl in harmony. Other times they would join forces chasing rabbits and walking the beach. She liked to lie in the yard in front of our house and many a night drove away burglars and stray animals like skunks and foxes. When she heard people arguing she tried to distract and stop them.
Mostly she loved nature, and Coltons Point. She was the only dog I know that was given the right to roam freely because so many people had called the Animal Control and told them she belonged to all the people. For most of the past four years she has been our house guest and constant companion and her many adventures and kind deeds would fill a book.
Holly loved life. For that she was loved. We will be collecting stories on Holly from the people of Coltons Point and we are planning a memorial and other things to guarantee that what she taught us will be passed on from generation to generation.
Always a prankster, she had a trick where she would lie on her back and act dead for hours at a time. People would stop by and ask if she was alive.
Just a couple of days before her passing she made her way with great difficulty across the street and helped a neighbor's grand daughter get over her fear of dogs. It was just like Holly to be helping children as she was fighting for her life.
At her final moments of life after she let me know she was ready to go and she could barely lift her head off the pillow I went to the door to let in her devoted Vet-A-Pet Candace Guyther and we turned and Holly was sitting up on her hind legs, her head looking up to the heavens, proud and poised as she always had been to remind us just how she wanted to be remembered, the Guardian, the Peacemaker.
Then she was gone. Farewell my dear friend.