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Kathryn Horn
510-638-PAWS (7297)t

Santolina Flink

May 11,1994 - February 14, 2010



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(Click on the to see a larger view)

                                                          (Bill Newcomb)


                (Ann Clayton)                                          (Ann Clayton)


                              (Ann Clayton)                            (Ann Clayton)


                         (Family Tree)                                        (Family Tree)





                       (Ann Clayton)                                        (Ann Clayton)

                                       (Ann Clayton)                                   (Family Tree)

Flink at 14!


                            (Dave MIlls)                                        (Dave MIlls)



                                                     (Dave MIlls)


Flink at 15!


                               (Dave Mills)                                       (Dave Mills)



                               (Dave Mills)                                       (Dave Mills)

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Written on Valentine’s Day 2010:


Today we set Flink free of his used-up body. It was no longer working for him. I could no longer keep him safe or comfortable. Since my contract with all of my dogs is to do those two things, it was time to set him free. He died gently in my arms.


We did surgery for laryngeal paralysis in November 2005 to give him a longer active life. That led to 11 bouts of aspiration pneumonia and then old age. I have worried for years through his up and down health that this day was coming soon. For 4 ½ years, it did not come – until today. Through my tears I am so very grateful for those years. Flink was 3 months shy of 16 years…. a ripe old age for any dog of his size, especially for one with his health issues. Not many of us have been given the gift of this longevity with our special friends. I am profoundly grateful for it.


I have had a lot of time to think about my life with Flink. It has been a very special time because of who he is and what he has taught me.

Who was he?

He was a dog who lived with a deep joie de vivre and a wicked sense of humor. (There was a look in his eyes and a tilt of his head that tipped you off if you were too thick a human to catch it!) He was powerful in a quiet, calm, confident way. He was dignified, elegant, deeply wise, self-possessed and proud but not arrogant. He had a quiet confidence in who he was, what he knew and what he expected and he was not afraid to communicate that. Anyone who was willing to listen could not help but learn from him. His lessons have been profound. In addition, he was the ultimate athlete, able to think and adjust while running full speed in the woods or on an agility course. He was a true pal, both in active times and in all the quiet times we have had together these past 4 years. As he aged, he was incredibly accepting, choosing to stay with us and teach us that just “being” together was as deep a joy as doing things together.


What have I learned from this special dog?

  • There’s nothing that can’t be cleaned up and nothing that can’t be done to continue living while keeping an old or frail friend safe and comfortable
  • Dogs can have a wicked sense of humor
  • Power can be expressed gently
  • Flink taught me to let him know what I wanted (let him know the job) and then to set him free to do it in his way. He did not like having me tell him how a job should be accomplished. This lesson comes from a well-bred herding dog but it applied to agility as well. (I used to think it was a herding dog trait. I have come to realize that most, if not all, dogs prefer to be given the respect of having this choice in “how” to get the job done.)
  • What power under control looks like (beautiful both in agility and life)
  • Life can be lived at different levels in different life stages. Life is a way of being, not necessarily of activity
  • A still body and incontinence are not the end of life. There is so much to be lived, even when the body is failing
  • When fear sets in, let go of it and live in that moment. This gives color and meaning to life and preserves the relationship as the journey is walked together. Fear interferes with relationships and stops deep living. I have had to relearn this lesson frequently along the way but I consider it his most important lesson


Agility was only one of the aspects of our life together so I have left it to the end as a small piece. The connection we had on course was very special and what I have missed these past years. The titles and ribbons are only important as they speak of that. They were:

CGC,  AAD,  ATCH IV, NATCH-8, S-WV-E, S-TN-E, O-TG-E, 6,000 lifetime points in NADAC, First place 24” Open class at the 1996 NADAC Nationals (they weren’t called Championships at that time) and High in Trial at that same competition, and a number of perfect Q  and High in Trial weekends. The letters and ribbons mean little to me. The vision in my memory of Flink dancing Jumpers courses with me will remain with me as long as I live.


The hardest part of letting go is done. So now it is a time of thankfulness for what Flink and I were given together and a time for sweet memories. I have plenty of those. Fly Free, my Flink until we fly free together again.


"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality,
never fully understanding the necessary plan."

- Irving Townsend.


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