Blue-Violet Iris Interior

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Goodbye, Golden Girl


One of the worst occupational hazards of being a dog-sitter is losing clients and it is with a heavy heart that I must share that dear, sweet Goldie has passed away.

She was pretty, loyal, playful, and kind.

I am thankful that this wasn't a complete shock, but it happened awfully fast. In July, she had her nose checked out because she was getting occasional nose bleeds. There was significant inflammation in her nasal passages, so she was given steroids to see if it could bring the inflammation down. She had a horribly bad reaction to the steroids that included the loss of use of her limbs--there was initially a fear that she might be paralyzed. She did make a partial recovery, but remained very weak, unable to move much without assistance, and not herself. Then she developed lesions and sores on her legs and paws that wouldn't heal and were determined to be cancerous. Goldie didn't complain, but she was clearly miserable and her body seemed to be shutting down. Her family made the hard decision to end her suffering and said goodbye to their beloved girl on the 17th of September. She was twelve years old. While the medication crisis seems to have sped up a cascade of health issues, I do think she was already unwell. When I'd taken care of her in June, six months after I'd seen her last, I was shocked by how OLD she looked. She'd slowed down considerably and put on weight. While increasing arthritis was clearly a factor, my guess now is that things were already starting to go wrong inside. That thought is of some consolation to me. I also would never want her to suffer, so I would not want her to have been forced to live longer in hopes of a recovery that wasn't coming.

All smiles in better days.

It still doesn't make it easy to have to say goodbye, though.

I did not know that this picture I took of Goldie wading around with me in the lake would be the last photograph I'd ever take of her.

I only looked after Goldie for two years before her passing, but I came to love her fully during that too-brief time and have so many wonderful memories of her. She was playful, joyful, loyal, quiet, and kind. Her favorite things included playing with her favorite rope-and-ball toys...

This is my very favorite photograph of Goldie!

She had so much fun with these toys.

They were great for tossing, tugging, chewing, fetching, and rolling on both inside and outside the house.

...rolling in the grass...

I'm sure there is no other dog in the world who got as much joy from rolling around in the grass!

She'd wriggle and roll and pedal her legs as if riding a bicycle.

Goldie would roll in wet grass until she was absolutely sopping.

Doesn't she look happy?

...wading in the lake...

Summer or winter, rain or shine, Goldie was always ready to get in the lake.

Blowing bubbles.

On a warm summer day, you might as well just take a load off in the water!

...playing with her best doggie friend...

Goldie and her friend and neighbor, Sable, would play together for hours at a time.

Mostly they chased one another, but they did a bit of wrestling, too!

The lake often figured in their games.

...and being brushed and petted.

I will fondly remember teaching her how to walk on a leash after living as a free-roaming country dog for most of her life...

With the help of a head halter, Goldie quickly learned to walk on a leash without pulling.

...taking her to the dog park...

She was the perfect kind of dog to take to the dog park.

...watching her play with her best doggie friend...

As much fun as she had at dog parks, nothing compared to playing on her own property with Sable when her family moved to the house on the lake!

Their game was simple: Sable would give Goldie a mock-bite on the neck and Goldie would chase her in mock-fury.

It was an arrangement agreeable to both. Goldie and Sable often took a break from their game to say hello to me on the dock before running off to play some more. astonishingly quiet she was (I could take care of her for weeks at a time and never hear a single peep out of her!), how well-mannered, and the sweet way she once very politely requested reassurance during a thunderstorm...

Inside the house, Goldie was calm, quiet, and polite. She had wonderful manners.

A dog needs a break now and then from all that rolling and romping!

...those funny flyaway wisps of fur that rose from her ears...

The fur on Goldie's ears and head was very silky and fine and prone to standing on end.

These flyaway wisps gave her a perpetually disheveled (and slightly goofy) look.

The effect was quite charming.

...the way she carried her tail straight up when she was excited...

TAIL UP! Goldie's tail points to the sky!

...our twice-daily strolls down to the lake... 

Sometimes, due to her canine obligations, Goldie would have break off to do some errands as we made our way down to the dock, but she always joined me eventually!

We had a routine: every morning, as soon as I got up, we'd go down to the lake together to see what there was to see.

Every evening, as the sun approached the horizon, we'd make our way down to the dock again to watch the night come.

Goldie and I both loved those strolls to the lake.

...and her expressive face, so often lit with a smile.

Goldie found many things to be happy about. It was in her nature to be pleased by the world.

She was seldom without a smile.

Such a good girl!

The moments I loved most with Goldie were those spent sitting on the dock together.

I'd have my camera with me, perpetually on the lookout for interesting birds to photograph, and once she'd made her rounds, checking the beaches for any washed-up snacks, she'd settle by me, looking around and sniffing the wind.

If the birds were scarce or the light was ebbing as the sun went down, I'd start petting her.

It is something of an obsession of mine, when petting an animal, to work out any mats or tangles I find and because Goldie was a long-haired dog who went in the water daily, there was always plenty of fur to work through and unbind!

She loved this and didn't make the slightest protest if I accidentally pulled her fur while trying to break apart mats or tangles. She'd stand perfectly still and if I stopped, even for a moment, she would press her head against me in a mute appeal for more.

That is what I'll remember: the pressure of her head against my torso, her golden coat burnished to amber by the setting sun, my fingers buried deep in her fur, the dark blue of the lake, crows flying to roost high overhead, the wind carrying away the orange streamers of her loosened fur, my love for her, her love for me.

Farewell, dear girl. I'll miss you forever.

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