Saturday, January 2, 2010

It goes by too fast

It was almost nine years ago today.

We got a call from the last person we had contacted about it. We were ready to stop looking for a while.

But the lady we talked too had one unclaimed female left in her litter.

There were twelve and she was the runt.

We didn't mind, we asked the breeder to email us some pictures, as we lived six hours away, a day later I got them. There was this little ball of fur with beautiful reddish brown ears almost the color of rust.

We said we take her and suffered the 12 hours round trip in the car two weeks later to pick her up when she was old enough.

She was a tiny little thing with a small mother yet an enormous father.

However being female and the runt how big could she get?

At four months we knew we were in trouble when she was as big as the dog we already had and was all nose and feet.

She finally stopped one hundred pounds later and we got our answer. I could put her front paws on my shoulders and she could look me in the eye standing on her hind legs.

She was just a big solid dog, yet warm, soft and utterly beautiful. One of the prettiest dogs I have ever been around.

She ended up with one of the most beautiful reddish brown coats of thick soft fur on a Golden Retriever I had ever seen.

For her size she was gentle, calm and very easy going. A total sweetheart unless she had reason to be excited and as big a goof as you will ever meet.

She loved people but never attacked you when you came in the door. Simply she would walk up to you check you out or bring you one of her many stuffed toys.

If you pet her, she would just sit there and soak it in hardly ever begging for more.

It marveled me how good she was with the two little girls who live nearby. They would come over and play with a dog that could look them in the eye. Never mind the fact she out weighed them.

But she never once knocked one of them down, she would just follow them around while they held a ball we provided until they threw it for her.

And did she love to retrieve. Not much made her happier then for you to throw something for her and she could bring it back to you.

Unless of course she could do it while swimming.

Her love of water knew no limits, if the water was deep enough for her she wouldn't get out, I would eventually have to put a leash on her and drag her out. She wanted nothing more then for me to throw her floating retrieving toy so she could get wet and bring it back.

She would stay in forever if she could.

I can remember at a local dog park that had a section against a lake with a dock that extended out into it. She was so unsure of how to get into the water until she watched another dog jump in.

She leaped in so ungracefully and with such a resounding flop you couldn't help but laugh, because she made up for it with unbridled fearless enthusiasm once she knew she could do it herself.

She would literally throw herself off.

And she did this every time we took her there.

We even took vacations for both our dogs and made sure we had a lake they could go swimming at. It wasn't a vacation for us if we took them along and didn't have something for them.

Her love of snow was another thing that was a joy to behold. When we would get a good one, four inches or more, she would roll and play in it for hours. She would even sit outside, plopped down in it covered from head to tail. She loved to sit outside with me while I shoveled it and would run and bark when I threw it at her.

Her other passion was terrorizing the squirrels and rabbits at a local park. As often as I was able, most weekends and when I could during the week, I made sure they got there.

And when she was there she was all business, forget people or other dogs, she wanted to catch those critters.

I never saw a dog ever stalk them like she did. She looked like a lion approaching her prey on the plains of Africa. Made all the more comical when you considered how big she was and how small they were. Slowly creeping forward to get closer. Frozen when the squirrel looked up from foraging. Moving again when it looked down.

Until the mad dash to the nearest tree.

I'll never forget the time when she was around a year old when she had charged into a small groove of trees where someone had left peanuts on the ground. Six or seven squirrel oblivious to the large mass of fur that had just burst into their midst.

Her indecision on which way to turn first was the only things that saved me from a mess. I smile to this day when I think about her turning once then twice, then again, unable to make up her mind. By then the squirrels realized what was happening and bolted up the nearest tree.

Leaving my poor dog spinning in circles.

She did however, succeed a few times. Mostly a squirrel just would get tossed once before making a getaway. But when you run right at a frozen dog you get what you deserve when you enter pouncing range.

Then there was the summer we spent nursing her back from blowing out the knee ligaments in one of her hind legs. A fear we always had with having such a large dog, but one year later she was back at the park hunting squirrels like nothing had changed.

And the companionship she showed our other dog, watching the two of them romp and play. Wrestling over a bone, toy, our socks or even a dish towel.

Her intelligence was amazing, I could take her out in the front and she would never wander off our yard unless you went and told her she could follow. She knew when I was supposed to be home and would pace until I got there. She also was always right behind the door whenever we returned from somewhere. She listened so well to anything we told her. She also never begged for food at the table always just laying at your feet.

Though I had to put a child proof latch on the cupboard door that enclosed our garbage since she learned how to open it. Mostly when she was mad at us and felt she needed to make a statement.

And followed me everywhere. When I was home and she could, she was either in the room or just outside the door.

She knew when you were upset and not feeling well. Cuddling if you let her.

Then there were the 6am wake ups for her morning treat and a trip outside. Her large tail thumping against the wall and bed. Her cold nose reaching under the covers to find you.

Her love of kisses, worst still after she had just visited the water bowl. She was one of the sloppiest drinkers I have ever seen. Making those tongues to the face sopping wet.

Our wrestling in the family room. Her nibbles to my nose. Her barking at me to throw a toy or bouncing in circles avoiding my playful swipes at her nose.

The one thing most people don't know was she was a talkative dog when she wanted to be. She barked only when someone was at the door but never once they came in.

She did however talk to me all the time. I could have conversations with her for hours if I wanted too. She would bark, growl, whine when she wanted something or was mad at me. My favorite was either her chewing her growls or when she would roll one in her throat while she had something in her mouth.

She would sound just like Chewbacca from Star Wars when she did that.

She honestly never grew up, always remaining a big puppy at heart.

However it all went by too fast.

Wednesday we where at the park enjoying the brisk weather.

The next morning we were being woken by the sounds of her throwing up.

We withheld food and water for several hours hoping it was just a bug. But as soon as we gave her anything she was throwing it right back up.

Off to the vet we went. She was barely moving. We could see she wasn't right.

The first vet had bad news, ultrasounds showed tumors on her spleen and stomach. Fluid around her heart.

We left her overnight, she we didn't know if we could feed her. They could at least give her an IV. One of the chief vets was in the next day and was also their cardiologist specialist. She did a full workup. She was kind and honest but the news was not good my girl didn't have much time and was still not eating.

Worse yet she was bleeding out internally.

Even if I took her home she wasn't going to be with us much longer and she was still refusing food. If I couldn't feed her I was simply going to starve her while she died.

So it was with very heavy hearts we trekked out to the vet yesterday.

We could tell she was feeling better from the IV she had gotten, but we knew the truth.

We cried, hugged, pet and spent as much time with her as we could one last time.

Then we asked the vet in and gently held her while we watched her go.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I know in my heart it was the right decision.

That however doesn't make it any less painful.

This hole will never be filled by anyone else. I will always remember my big, goofy, lovable, utterly sweet and wonderful dog.

I could never have asked for anything better then what I got with you.

You may be gone, but you will never ever be forgotten and you will always be missed.

Nine years simply went by too fast.


Jennifer's Diary said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Your story was very touching.

Rebecca said...

A beautiful post, sweetie. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Jessica Lyn said...

As I read this post I knew how it would end... and I just couldnt help but cry almost the entire time I read it. I am very sorry for your loss. It really hit home as I have a dog too. She is just over 2 years old but they have gone by fast as well. I'm glad I have here with me right now, other wise I don't think I couldve finished reading it.

On the lighter side of things.. my girl too has an odd drinking habbit... she likes to stick her whole nose into the water as she drinks which gets water everywhere. Its really funny but boy does she make a mess!