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The Final Course Check

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Growing up, my family always had a dog, or two (or three).  When I was a baby, we had a brown standard poodle named Jessica.  We added another pup to the pack when I was in grade school, a black standard poodle named BlackJack.  When my mother rescued a chow mix wandering down the railroad tracks next to the vet office where she worked, we named her McKenzie and our pack expanded to three.  Three is where we sat for a while until I went to college.  My family always had a dog, or two (or three), but I’ve only ever had one.

Sherman came to me by way of my brother.  He already had a 2-year-old Australian Shepherd and had just gotten another Aussie puppy.  All of the sudden, shoes were getting eaten, couches torn up, and clothes ripped apart.  I wish I could say that my brother handled things well, but he didn’t and I told him that I would take the puppy (1 yr. old at the time) with me back to college after my summer break.  Once I rescued Sherman, I vowed that I would never lay a hate-filled hand on him.  Sherman thanked me by giving me 13 years of companionship and unwavering devotion that only a dog can give.

Sherman went through a lot with me.  He was by my side from college, to getting married and starting our young family.  When Maggie, my oldest, was born I remember bringing home one of her blankets before the whole family came home.  He sniffed it up and down with his knub (tail) wagging excitedly.  He sat down, looked at me, and barked as if to say “I’m ready for my new job.”  Boy was he.  The day Maggie and Alexi came home it was a whirlwind.  This new thing was crying and screaming at us and as soon as we set the car seat down on the floor; he sniffed her, looked at me, and laid down right next to the car seat.  I will never forget that moment.  He proceeded to be a source of endless joy and a climbing wall for Maggie and eventually, Demetri.  He loved the attention even if it meant getting poked in the eyes and ears by little fingers exploring this gigantic furry stuffed animal.

At work, he was in heaven.  As you can imagine Sherman, an Australian Shepherd, was a perfect golf course dog.  As an assistant at Camargo, I would bring him on the weekends while running the crew.  He would run right next to the cart from hole to hole and follow along right behind as I cut cleanups and prepped the course for the day ahead.  When he was younger, he would easily run the entire 300+ acre property and then be ready for more.  When he came to TPCC he took his job as goose deterrent very seriously.  In the Spring and Fall the first thing we would do was run to the ponds and clear the area of any unwelcome guests.

As the saying goes, time waits for no one.  Sherman started to get slower and his stamina began to drop off.  The energetic pup that used to lap golf courses could only muster a hole or two before he’d beg to get in the cart.  Although he still loved to be on the golf course, the course checks got shorter and shorter and afterwards he’d be in a lot of pain.

I knew the time was near when I went to get him in the truck to come to work one Friday morning and he couldn’t even stand up to be lifted in.  He just sat down staring intently at the pickup truck, almost willing himself to get in.  It was as if his mind was ready to go to work, but his body was refusing to cooperate.  After a wellness check at the vet, the prognosis wasn’t good.  Although our vet would always say she wouldn’t tell us when it was time, she did say that if she were to do anything it would only be to make him feel comfortable until I was ready.  It was clear that if I were to have her do anything, I was selfishly prolonging his suffering because I was too scared to let him go.

I made an appointment for Monday, August 12th. 

That morning was a gorgeous morning.  The sun shining and the temps had finally cooled down.  When we got to work, we had the usual course check to do.  Normally he’d ride all morning but he decided to hop out and walk.  Normally, I’d make him ride because he’d be in severe pain that evening, but I knew he wouldn’t have to worry about that today.  We slowly walked the perimeter of the course.  One final course check.  He spent the rest of the day hanging out at the shop until everyone was gone.  It was 4 o’clock.  Alexi arrived with some Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers as a special treat and we loaded up for one final spin.  After a lap around the course, we met the vet in the parking lot and she administered the shot that would let him fall asleep.  We fed him one last cheeseburger and continued our cruise.  He fell asleep riding through the course with a belly full of bacon cheeseburgers and his head on my lap.  I truly believe there was nowhere else he’d rather have been before crossing over that rainbow bridge.

I’ve always had a dog, or two (or three).  Now I have none.  The hardest part for me is the early mornings when I’m getting ready for work.  It’s quiet in the house.  There are no tap dancing feet begging to come to accompany me to the course.  Just quiet.

They say that all good golf course superintendents get to come back as a course dog.  If that’s the case, Sherman must have been one hell of a grass grower.  I plan to honor him here at TPCC by planting a memorial tree for him.  I think it’s only appropriate that he gets to spend his days hanging out at the place he loved the most.  RIP, bud.  Thank you for everything.

Scott LesChander
Grounds Superintendent

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Readers comments:

Ray Normile, 9/7/2019 10:55:30 AM EST   55555

Barry Vogelmeier, 8/30/2019 5:04:24 PM EST   55555
Thanks for sharing Sherman with us 

Charles Florentino, 8/30/2019 11:41:55 AM EST   55555
Dogs make us better people. So Sorry for your loss. 

Dixie Barker, 8/30/2019 11:24:04 AM EST   55555
Being the "dog person" I am, I totally understand the poignancy of this writing about Sherman. Dogs give us soo much. When they leave us, the loss is paramount. Everyone should have the joy that Sherman gave you and your family.... 

Tom Torre, 8/30/2019 7:22:30 AM EST   55555

Steve Landa, 8/29/2019 6:09:50 PM EST   55555
Wonderful tribute my friend. 

Anonymous, 8/29/2019 6:05:01 PM EST   55555
So sad 

Michele Buck, 8/29/2019 2:45:41 PM EST   55555

Kathy Brockman, 8/29/2019 2:13:04 PM EST   
Iím so sorry for your loss, and when we talked on the course I could tell how much you loved Sherman. Thanks for sharing him. 

Candace, 8/29/2019 2:06:37 PM EST   55555
Beautiful...we have 3 such members of our family...such a heartwarming tribute. Fortunate to be able to say I met Sherman 💜. Peace to you and your family ~ thank you for sharing.