Suzy Colt of Whitefield is running for state representative in District 4.
My dog has played many roles in my life: hiking buddy, electric blanket, emotional support animal, entertainment director, alarm clock, doorbell, mowing sentry, and most recently, campaign manager.
She also served as a muse and inspiration for some of my essays which were published under the title My Turns for the Tuning Monitor. The first was posted on May 3, 2020 (“The Beauty of Routine”.) Back then, we were hiking in our woods twice a day, at nearly the same time every day. We could almost set our watch by our routines. My dog also had an internal clock for feeding time, so if a meal was late, the bowl would be knocked over loudly. I had to obey!
The point of my essay was that the routine didn’t have to be mundane, especially considering the changing seasons and the emergence of different flora during those seasons. Staying alert and nose to the ground offered a great diversity of entertainment, as long as you were receptive to it.
The second was published on May 2, 2021 (“A Shift in Rhetoric.”) The theme of this essay centered around the shift in political winds following the inauguration of President Biden. I likened it to the change in my little world when I found out my dog was suffering from age-related blindness, which was probably harder for me to observe than it was for her to live with. I wrote how I discovered her blindness and how she adapted to her new world. I struggled with change and wrote about it, realizing that resisting change was futile.
A year later, I found myself embarking on a new career as a candidate for NH State Representative. Our lives and routines have been totally disrupted by this change. My dog enjoyed the influx of people entering our lives and seemed to adjust to my being away from home for longer periods of time. She had started to slow down anyway and happily curled up in her favorite chair during downtime.
I calculated on the generally attractive nature of dogs in our culture and shamelessly exploited her adorableness in my campaign. A picture of us together appeared on my webpage, my Facebook page, and palm cards I handed out as I knocked on the door. I joked that my dog was my “campaign manager”, which seemed to break the invisible barrier as I began to explain my goal of knocking on their door.
Behind the vast majority of doors, I found many dogs eager to meet me, covering my clothes with their scent. When I arrived home after knocking on the door, my dog sniffed me mercilessly and complained that I was cheating on her. It got to a point where I was rushing around the room to get rid of the offending smells before she even jumped out of her chair. By this time, she was very blind, had become deaf, and had slowed considerably; infirmities which I took advantage of to relieve her of these feelings of jealousy.
A few weeks ago my dog developed a cough, which was diagnosed as kennel cough. I felt bad for bringing the highly contagious virus into my home, but it turned out to be a symptom of a much more serious condition, congestive heart failure. My dog was dying and, having had previous experience with CHF, I knew she was in a lot of pain. So I found a vet who provided compassionate end-of-life care at home, put my campaign on hold, stayed home with my dog, never left his side, and when the time was right, the angel of mercy helped lead Amber to dog heaven.
The Lancaster Fair was my back-to-school campaign, and I worked at the Coös County Democratic Committee booth in the commercial building two days after burying my dog. Sympathy flowed everywhere, regardless of political affiliation. We all put aside our differences, shared stories of the similar fates of our beloved pets, and comforted each other. Some had even used the same vet who came to the house to do the worst thing possible.
This is the power of the dog – breaking down the barriers that divide us and coming together to support each other in our time of grief and need. Do you remember when it happened after 9/11? Do you remember when we were all in favor of helping Ukraine against the Russian invasion?
As I continue my campaign, knocking on doors, handing out the palm card with that cute photo of Amber on the front, I resist the temptation to tell people she’s gone. I’m not joking anymore about her being my campaign manager. When I get home, I feel the absence deep in my soul and I know the feeling will become a little more bearable as the memory of her becomes deeply embedded in my heart and brain. the same place my mom, dad, friends, relatives and beloved former pets occupy.