Tonka fell asleep in my arms about an hour after we first met. He has been my best friend ever since. He sailed the Chesapeake Bay and Climbed to the top of Mt. Mitchell. We explored the shoreline from New Jersey to Georgia and wandered the streets of Baltimore, DC, Richmond, Raleigh, Charleston and Charlotte.
He once conned a University of Virginia professor into buying him an ice cream cone, while wearing a University of Maryland collar. He knew where every free treat in Alexandria could be found. He was portrayed in fine art at The Torpedo Factory Gallery.
We hiked and explored The Southern Mountains together. Nose to the ground and tail in the air, following his nose and zig zagging up every trail.
He was my constant companion when I was sick and alone. Always within arms reach and always there for me.
My favorite memory was in a valley in Central Virginia where we hiked up a canyon along a waterfall. As the trail wound up the mountain it became more rocky, in a few places the rocks seemed to high for Tonka, but he jumped up every Boulder. Eventually the trail ends above the waterfall. We would stop there for lunch and share a sandwich. Tonka found a way to get just a little further up a rock where he would sniff the wind with his face in the sun.
I pray that's where he is tonight after he fell asleep in my arms for the last time today.
Thank you my friend for 17 years.
I love you.