One of the wonderful gifts my book has given me is the worldwide community of dog lovers who have shared their stories with me. Many of them are funny, recounting the goofy antics of their Marley-like pooches. And then there are those stories from the heart in which owners describe the difficult parting with a beloved pet. This farewell to a good dog arrived in my email box tonight, and I thought it was worth sharing. It reads:
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of our wonderful friend
and companion, our yellow Labrador, Taylor. Taylor died peacefully today,
without assistance, at the grand old age of 12. Kim and I were with her when she
died, and the kids all were able to say their good-byes. Taylor gave us a
scare one week ago, but rebounded to give us one more improbable week, prompting
us to call her the “miracle dog.”
Taylor was a gift to us as a one-year old, literally and with her gentle
spirit. Taylor was the most gentle and friendly dog ever known (except when
Airedales were around). She rarely barked, was never aggressive and was a
child’s delight in visits to our elementary school or the baseball field.
Taylor was also know for her insatiable appetite and ability to hear a thin
slice of ham hit the kitchen floor from the other side of the house. But as
much as Taylor loved snacks, she craved human attention and affection. No
visitor to our home escaped a nudge from Taylor’s snout as she sought a pat on the
head or a rub of her ears — and, thus, no visitor left without a full coating
of yellow lab hair.
Taylor was a “furniture” dog who hated laying on the floor when a comfy coach
or bed was available. In her earlier years, Taylor would be found most
mornings on the living room couch. She would slink off in shame when adults arose
for the day, but in later years the shame subsided, and she would just raise
her eyebrows in a questioning manner as you walked in the room, “You don’t
really want me to get off, do you? It’s cold on the floor, you know.” Her other
favorite overnight resting places were either Megan’s or James’ beds, where
she had very welcoming hosts. Taylor was also James’ close companion and
playmate in the hours before and after school. The rumble of a tennis ball being
thrown and chased and tackled in the upstairs hallway is a sound that will be
missed, and a cherished chaos that will not be replicated.
Taylor loved her walks in the fields of Iowa and Minnesota in search of
pheasants or quail. Like me, she wasn’t very skilled at the sport, but the walks
were always fun and exciting, especially finding all the great things a dog can
eat in a corn field. I was very blessed to have one last, great hunting day
with Taylor in the Spicer area of Minnesota just last month, hosted by Jacob’s
wrestling coaches. Thanks, gentlemen, you’ll
never know how special that day will always be.
Kim commented this evening that Taylor never acted like an old dog, always
bright in eyes, and spirit, and eager for a snack and a belly rub. Even during
her miracle week, knowing how fragile Taylor was, we marveled at her youthful
attitude, expressive face and eyes, and uncanny ability to catch a peanut
tossed across the kitchen.
Like Presidents, I suppose, our dogs help define the times of our lives.
Taylor now joins her beloved step sister, Lucy, who passed away just a year ago.
And I am filled with a great melancholy knowing that an exciting and
youthful-feeling era has come to a full close — of two labs romping in pheasant
fields together, wrestling in the backyard, turning heads on walks in the
neighborhood and resting peacefully together, cheek to jowl. They were a special pair.
Taylor will be greatly missed by us all and forever remembered with great
love. Goodbye, sweet girl.