A few weeks ago, a blogger that I follow wrote about her cat passing onto Rainbow Bridge. After I read her blog, we exchanged a few words, I told her about my beloved Golden Retriever, Brady, passing away a long time ago. (Just for the record…even though I live in New England, he was not named after Tom Brady…Tom Brady was not even out of high school when we named him…) Afterwards, life got in the way, and I forgot about her post.
Until last Saturday.
I was sitting on my deck last Saturday reading from my Kindle. It was quite windy that day, and Cathy didn’t want to sit outside. So it was me, my Kindle, and Suzie.
Suzie is my 10 year old Golden Retriever. I watched her for a few minutes. Her back was to me as she was watching the boats go by and the planes taking off from Logan. The wind was making her ears flop. Then she turned to me and I scratched her underneath her chin. When I stopped, she put her paw on me as if to say, “Ummm…can you scratch me under my chin some more?”
I remembered my friend's blog. Then, a flood of memories came back to me.
I remembered when we got Suzie. She was 10 months old when we got a call from Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue. We had applied for an older male dog to adopt, but also told them that we wanted to help a golden with medical needs. A few months later, they told us about a petite golden girl who had surgery on her knees six weeks earlier. If we accepted her, we would be her third family, though only her first since she ended up at Yankee Golden. Neither Cathy nor I knew what to expect… needless to say, we expected a dog to come out slowly…barely able to walk. Instead, out came a whirlwind who jumped over the couch we were sitting on. We took her for a walk…No, what I meant was, she took us for a walk. We decided to take her home with us.
I remembered that she was so skinny when we got her, she could fit through the railings on our stairs.
I remembered the first time I got the ok from the vet to let her off the leash in our backyard. It was the first time in Suzie’s life that she ran. Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to stop and ran into the fence. She figured it out though.
I remembered the time she got out of the house and ran down the street. Despite hours of training, she wouldn’t come to me when I called her. Then she heard me yell, “Let’s go for a ride!” She nearly knocked me over running back.
I remembered the time she got kicked out of a doggie day care, because she was too much for them to handle. I also remembered another doggie day care that told us that the kindergarten kids loved Suzie because she would play fetch with them until their arms practically fell off!
I remembered the first time I saw her go in the water. How she plopped in on her side, stood up, and plopped in on her other side.
I remembered when we moved to a condo and how freaked out she was when she got in the elevator for the first time, until she realized this was a “magic box” that took her from our floor to downstairs and back.
And I look at her now. Her muzzle is grey. Whereas I had to train her to walk with me instead of ahead of me, now she has been training me to walk slower so I can walk with her. When Cathy’s alarm goes off in the morning, she doesn’t always have the strength to jump up on the bed and cuddle with me for a few minutes.
I have never been scared of death. I’m not sure why. But as I have gotten older, I have gotten more spiritual. Not religious, but spiritual. They are two different things. And I have come to believe that when a living thing dies, the only thing that really dies is the physical being. The soul continues on among us, it becomes part of us. I fear that Suzie will not be with us much longer. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying she will be gone tomorrow or next week or even next year. But sooner, rather than later. And while I will be sad when she departs for Rainbow Bridge, I know that Suzie will always be a part of me, a part of Cathy…even a part of our cat who is not particularly fond of her.
But for now, I will enjoy watching Suzie’s ears flop in the wind, while she puts her paw on me as if to say, “Ummm….when you’re done scratching my chin, can I have a piece of cheese?”