There are some in this world who still believe that animals have no personality, cannot reason, and do not have definite feelings. I’ve even heard some say that dog are a waste and unnecessary. Obviously, they have never been close to one. Or in some cases, been owned by excess felines. Dogs truly are man’s best friend. They silently put up with your foibles, idiosyncratic behavior, your whims, and your ways. They react to nice attention like a magnifying mirror, returning it three times as powerfully.
14 years, and some months ago, I answered an ad, and ended up surrounded by 6 week old golden puppies. One in particular caught my eye. Actually, he refused to let me go, following me around like he would not let me leave without him. If you haven’t seen a golden retriever that young and small, think of a stupidly huge, floppy ears, (almost larger than his head), a long nose, way too big for his tiny body, even more amazingly large paws, incredibly bright, big eyes, and a body that could still fit on one large hand.
Even then, a belly rub got the most incredible groan of joy, even if it sounded like a squeak.
At seven weeks, he was still petrified of going down the steps leading down to the garden and lawn. Going up was no problem, but down, sheesh, his leg couldn’t quite reach the lower stair unless he fully committed himself. Yet, once he learned that he could, stairs became a joy, both up and down.
At eight weeks, he met his first Lake Michigan wave. He was terrified at first. Until he saw me wading in. He started in, turned around at the sight of a large (5 inch) wave, and finally made it deep enough to swim. After that, he was a Zen dog – one with water.
He loved the car. He’d sit on my arm and look out the driver’s window. At least for the first two months. He then graduated to the passenger side, and finally, he eventually took over the entire back seat. At 95 lbs, he still managed to be graceful, elegant, and warm hearted.
Loyal, noble, and absolutely gorgeous. An auburn, long haired, long eared, creature who craved food more than he craved attention. Obedient, never one to turn down a tennis ball toss or a frisbee, and always willing to put his head on your lap, especially after you had a rough day.
Watching him chase rabbits was almost sidesplitting. As fast as this thin, long legged critter was in straight lines, a sudden change in direction usually meant that this golden pup would tumble rather than make the quick turn. The operative word was goofy.
Snow. Ah the joys of snow. Digging, rolling, romping, playing tag, now that was the dog’s life.
When the rescue dog joined the family, golden puppy, now a sprightly 10 yrs old, was shocked. He actually pouted. Until he learned that playing with pup was almost as much fun as playing with dad.
Last year lumps appeared, his arthritis became obvious, and he was definitely slowing down. Finally, all at once, it came to an end. This lovely, lively, 95 lb dog was just months shy of 15 yrs. And he could not stand up. He cried in pain, he looked at me with this, “Why is this happening to me?” look that tears your heart apart. Got him up, with my holding him and got him out for one last pee, then took him into the vet. Spleen tumors had ruptured. Cancer, internal bleeding, slowly dying in pain. Even if I was that cruel hearted, an operation would not make his legs work, and frankly, surgery for that aged dog might kill him. It would certainly cause unnecessary pain and suffering. When we stayed in the vet’s exam room, he still tried to move, as well as he could, so he could see us and feel our touch.
Being with him when he passed was only right. He deserved nothing less.