Tuesday, November 8, 2011

For My Friend

What's in the small tin box with flowers on it, a small boy might ask.  

It can't possibly be all that remains of my gorgeous dog, would be my answer.

Such a small box can't contain the life force I still feel with every glimpse of his face in some innocent photograph. His spirit, too large to be harnessed in a confined space, too anxious to be free.

I see him eager, excited to play, content to lay in the sun or romp in deep snow.  I feel his big snout pushing its way under my hand, searching for pets.  And then I'm sad again, but it goes beyond missing my friend.  There's a sense of guilt that somehow I let him down.  Did we let him go too soon?  We had promised to take care of him.

I tell myself he had a good life.  When others would have given up on a strong-willed, nervous, fiercely protective German Shepherd, we dug in, found the right trainer and taught him who was boss.  He had to know we were in charge.  The responsibility was ours, to look after him, not the other way around.  He learned to trust in us, to follow our commands.  He learned to let his guard down and just be.  It took quite a while, but we got there.

After experiencing the hills and valleys of his lifetime together it makes sense to be heartbroken at its end.  To feel his presence when getting the mail or turning out the lights at night.  I still look for him, and try to stop myself from wallowing, because after all, I think, it's not cancer.  He was an old dog who lived a good life.

Like that matters.

Like that doesn't make him worthy of the emotion, but of course, it does.  Cancer intrudes on everything.  Even my right to mourn my pet.

He was still my friend.  Ready with an open ear and a giving paw, never judging, never asking for anything more than a walk or a crunchy biscuit in return.  He was happy just sharing my space and all was right in my world when I came home to a wagging tail.

As thoughts of chasing tennis balls faded into long ago memory, and walking to the kitchen too much effort, when he no longer raised his head for ear scratches or treats or at the sound of his leash, when he was sick more than he wasn't and when he looked at us with questioning eyes, we knew, as promised.  We would take care of him.

Ours would be the last faces he'd see as he slowly, peacefully drifted off to sleep and hopefully felt some comfort. As ours were the faces he spied through a cage in a shelter more than eleven years ago.  Nose to nose, looking at each other, wondering would we be the ones to give him a home?

Maybe, as my husband stood away from the cage that day and said, "I like this one," the biggest dog in the shelter, thought the same about us.  Maybe, he thought it was his lucky day and I hope, as he closed his eyes that last time, he knew how much he was loved, how much joy and inspiration he brought to our lives and how very much he'll be missed.

As I look at my blog everyday, its photos and title and remember the reason for its name, I hope Goliath, somehow knows how very far his furry paw did reach.  Further than any of us could ever guess.




12 comments:

  1. Oh, my heart just aches for you. This was a beautiful tribute, what he truly deserved. As anyone who has been fortunate enough to find 'The One' dog to join their life knows, there is no way to describe their impact, their meaning, their loss or the pain. We stand with you, virtually holding your hand, knowing that your great friend has been met by our great friends at the Rainbow Bridge, ready to play & show him the way. I hope you find peace. <3

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  2. OK, bawling my eyes out over here, can hardly see the keys through the tears.

    That, my friend, was a lovely Ode to Goliath.

    It's not cancer, that's true; but the feeling is the same: grief.
    Grief over the loss of your dog, your boobs, your life as you knew it five years ago, five months ago, five minutes ago.

    I imagine Goliath in the big doggie park of heaven, munching on a biscuit and telling his comrades, "I wish you could have met them! They were awesome parentals! Rescued me from a shelter even though I wasn't as pretty or handsome as the other hounds in the pen. Couldn't believe they even noticed me! But our eyes locked and we fell in love, and that's how it happens when you get lucky like me. I had an amazing life." I bet he has an amazing afterlife too.

    {{hugs}}

    Renn

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  3. You promised to take care of him, and that is just what you did. It is customary that when I start crying, my rescue dog Maile, who has been through it ALL with me, crawls under my arm and rests her snout on my thigh. She is here now and I am crying. Again, I am very sorry for your loss. Goliath was a member of your family, and it is very apparent that he will be missed.

    Big hug,

    Tory

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  4. Stacey,
    Never doubt that you did right by Goliath.I went through the same thing with my 18-year-old cat--she still had some spark left so we worried it was too soon. But she was fading and we finally realized she was just going to keep getting worse and not bounce back like they do when they're young. We spared her from more and worse suffering just like you spared him. They deserve nothing less.

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  5. Stacey, my dear uncle lost his beloved spaniel as you were losing Goliath and it was heart-breaking/wrenching for him as well. You have done awesome tributes for Goliath and I think there is no doubt in anyone mind that he was such a beloved member of your family and he knew that as well.
    Still thinking of your family....

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  6. Beautiful. I thought I could manage to read at work without tears...but here they come. Having faced this too, while singing "You are my sunshine" to my cairn Nana, it does help some to know they are no longer in pain. But it never eases the sorrow over their loss. My condolences.

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  7. Oh Stacey, this posting has me in tears. You have every right to mourn your magnificent friend. Pets are so significant in our lives; they truly are family members.

    You did right by Goliath. Just think, had you not adopted him, his life probably would've ended many years ago. You gave him such a quality life.

    I'm so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for having the courage to write about it.

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  8. Stacey,
    I am very touched by this post and, of course, am tearing up too. I know how it feels to question those decisions at the end. My family has been in that same position. Ultimately, you let Goliath go because you loved him and had promised to take care of him. That's what you did. I'm sure he knew he was loved right up to the end.

    Somehow I think perhaps we grieve even a bit more for those special pets who "walk through cancer" with us. How could we not? Goliath was also there when you brought your babies home. No wonder the bonds with him were so deep.

    Thank you for the lovely tribute to Goliath. I'm glad you decided to write it! Hugs.

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  9. Oh, Stacey... a year ago today, I went through the same thing with my Foxy. I felt guilty to the end, but when he was gone, I knew I'd done the right thing, the responsible thing, the most loving thing I could do for him then. There were no good or even feasible options left for him at that point. He -- and Goliath, too -- had lived long enough to be old, to just wear out, to be beyond practical help because we did take care of them so well for so long.

    You will never forget Goliath. And neither will your friends and readers.

    xxxxxx
    Kathi

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  10. I made a long comment. You have moved me to tears. My comment didn't post- so it is just as well. I was fumbling awkwardly for words anyway.

    Thank you for sharing.
    xo
    Melissa

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  11. To Lauree, Renn, Tory, Jackie, Lisa, Kelly, Beth, Nancy, Kathi & Melissa,

    It was my intention to reply to each comment as they appeared, but each one brought fresh tears, gratitude and a new appreciation for this wacky cyber world we find ourselves in and I needed to step back from the page.

    How lucky am I that I can share a few words along with a few photos and succeed in communicating how special a dog Goliath was and how much he meant to our family? That says more to me about you, the friends I've made, that you understand. You're pet lovers and you know what it's like to share your lives with a furry friend. I see it as just another bond between us. A better one than freaking breast cancer.

    Thank you all for your lovely comments and the belief we did right by him. Deep down, I know that we did. It also, helps knowing Goliath reached so many. It's funny, the blog was never supposed to be about him exactly, but I'm glad now, you all got to know him.

    Stacey

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  12. I know you did right by Goliath Stacey. What a wonderful life he had with your family. This blog is a fitting tribute to your treasured pet. Love to you xxxxxxxx

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