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Goodbye Goldie

 

Goldieapartment

Today was Day One of my life without Goldie.

I woke up, showered, got dressed and came downstairs.  No one was there. Not even Mom. She was upstairs.  There was just… silence. No panting. No breathing. No paws walking around.

So I said goodbye to Mom and headed to work.

I didn’t realize this last weekend would be her last. I knew it could be coming, but she was still pretty much Goldie.  She slept a lot. She enjoyed the ride in the car. She ate a little food. Not much. She had a poor appetite the past couple weeks. Still, she ate something. She didn’t drink much. But she ate ice. She still was trying to walk around and go places. We went out on the porch. We went out to the driveway. She even tried walking down to mom and dad’s room.  Goldie wasn’t in immense pain. Surely if she was, she would have just stayed still.  But no, she still kept exploring, kept walking around, kept wagging her tail and she went, ever so slow, step by step… She took her time. She was Goldie—everyone else could just wait for her.

She loved to be with people. We learned this years ago, since she never liked being left alone.  She didn’t want you crowding her space, but wanted you to be in the room with her. The door to my bedroom in my Glendale Heights apartment was proof that she didn’t want to be left alone. That’s when we learned she loved going with you in the car—even if that meant she stayed in the car and you left to go to the store, to the restaurant, wherever. But she knew that since she was in the car, you’d be coming back soon. So she’s go to sleep and wait for you to come back.

She used to hate the car. Anytime we’d get the leash or go out to the garage, she’d tremble all over. But later in life, she loved to go in the car. She loved to even just sit in the car!  When we went out to Bellville, sometimes we’d let her sit in mom’s van on a big pillow with the door wide open, and she’d sit and smile and pant and look around and be just SO happy.  We didn’t do this, but she could have been out there for hours and she’d be totally fine.  On road trips, especially on my 16+ hour trips up to Chicago, she’d try to come closer to the front, but eventually would just fall asleep and doze away. Still, it was the nicest thing, as I’d be on hour 10 and I could reach my hand back and pet her soft fur.

There was nothing quite like Goldie’s fur. Honestly, cocker spaniel fur is probably the best fur around. (I’m not biased at all.) She was originally very gold, but very slowly over time, she got lighter and lighter and more and more white. It was hard to notice, but comparing it with older photos of her, it’s very obvious.  Still, her fur was always so soft, fluffy, puffy, silky, and curly. Her ears had beautiful long locks of curly fur.  When her legs were wet after a bath, they’d get all curly like a bunch of curly q’s.  She was lovely when we let her hair grow out— and so cute when she would get shaved at the groomers.  She’d leave the house looking like one dog and come home looking like a completely different dog!  Every time she got a haircut she looked like a new puppy!  And it was so fun to pet her short hair too. She never LOVED being petted, like some dogs who flop over and look like they’re in heaven.  When she was younger, she’d let you pet her tummy or wherever and it looked like she was thinking, “Alright, I guess I’ll let you do this…”  But in later years, I can tell that she enjoyed it more, because she knew that you were close by her.  

She was over 16 years old, and she could still see.  Well, for the most part.  For probably half her life it looked like she had shiny, milky white cataracts in her dark, chocolate brown eyes.  But she didn’t, because she still could see so much. From the face of the person walking in the door to the food you dropped from the table to the squirrel in the trees—she was so attentive.  She would stare with a very serious face. Or she would cock her head and look perplexed. (We used to say, “Cock your head!” with a high pitched lilt just to get her to cock her head—and her head would rock left to right, left to right…) Or she would pant and smile and look at you with bright, joyful eyes. She did that a lot towards the end.  Her last days were still full of joy.  I’m sure she was doing that because it was hard to breathe…. But wow, she still looked so happy.  In the past month or two, she did have a cataract forming on her right eye.  I know it was getting hard to see, but I know she still could see, especially if you had something she wanted!  But eventually, she couldn’t tell who it was coming in through the door. So instead, she’d come up and sniff your shoes—and then wag her little tail once she figured out if it was me, Mom or Dad!

Some dogs have long flowing tails and others have pointy, thick tails—but Goldie had a short (clipped, I know) little nubbin of a tail.  When her fur was long, it would be like a fluffy pom-pom perched above her rear, with a couple long curls of light fur swirled down at the back.  When she was shaved, and when she was in skinny mode, it was like a little nub sticking out above her little bony butt. 

Her weight fluctuated for most of her life.  I think the most she ever weighed was 40-something.  When we took her to the vet near the end, she weighed 17 pounds… she’d truly shrunk… hmm… But most of her life she was somewhere in the mid-20s.  You know, I was always the one who liked to give her snacks, table scraps, let her lick my plate.  Eventually I was better about it, and it was more of an occasional treat. We had been feeding her the same type of food most of her life—Weight Management. In the past couple years, though, we had to get creative.

She had a number of health issues when we lived in Illinois. (A few scares in the middle of the night. Vomiting. Googling the symptoms of bloat. Trips to an emergency vet.  So glad she didn’t have to endure any of that at the end…) While we were there, she started getting special meals.  Occasionally wet food (til she turned her nose up at it).  She got chicken. Rice. My mom would cook her scrambled eggs. Carrots. OH MAN SHE LOVED CARROTS!  Actually it was a running joke for a while—she loved anything orange.  Carrots. Oranges. Clementines. Cheetos.  AND CHEESE!  Oh man, for the longest time, she would chow down on her food when we sprinkled cheese on it. We knew that she was having troubles the past few months when she didn’t really care about cheese.  But Goldie ate well.  For most of her life she ate once a day, then it was twice a day, then back to once a day—or whenever she wanted. 

It was a win when she ate anything in the last couple weeks.  Saturday evening she had some chicken alfredo!  And guess what was the last food that she enjoyed?  Pulled pork.  Yep, we had pulled pork for dinner, and she didn’t want any of the food that Mom put down for her… but when I brought her a sliver of pulled pork, she perked up, leaned forward and scarfed it down—and looked for more! And that was more than we’d seen in ages. So I brought some more—but tried to sneak in some healthier bits of chicken and canned food. But Goldie knows when you’re sneaking stuff in!  She licked up the pulled pork, but wouldn’t touch the other food and turned her head away.  She wanted the good stuff!  So I just fed her pulled pork and she loved every bite. I filmed it as well, and it’s a treat to watch.

We had to be creative over the past couple years to get her to take her medicine.  Stuff it in cheese? Check.  But then she’d figure it out… Stuff it in peanut butter? YUM!  And then it stopped working.  You know what worked for a while?  Marshmallows!  (She must remember the time that she discovered a Valentine’s Gift I received—a bag of chocolate covered marsmallows—and ate almost 75% of the bag.  She obviously didn’t remember having to be forced to throw it all back up…) But she tried her best. Even when we had to use a syringe and squirt in liquid, she’d do her best to take it.  But she loved those Heartguard pills!

Still, Goldie enjoyed eating so much.  All the orange things.  She loved Peanut Butter—it was so fun to see her licking the inside of a Rhino toy for ages, enjoying it to the last drop (blob?). Life Cereal. Goldie and I loved to enjoy Life together. Tomato slices.  I used to get a Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Wendy’s and would always give her my tomato—and she gulped it down, especially since it was covered in mayo!  As we left the vet’s office on Wednesday, I got a Spicy Chicken Sandwich in memory of Goldie—and I enjoyed that tomato too.  Goldie also loved grapes—until we discovered that grapes could be poisonous to dogs!  Fortunately that didn’t do her in.  What else? What else?  The other day I was eating Frosted Mini Wheats and she enjoyed a few milk sopped pieces from my bowl.  She enjoyed chewing a chewy piece of banana. She loved to eat apples. (But when she could still hear, she used to get nervous and run to her pen if we said “Apple.” Long story. More to come.)  But you know how we know Goldie was a true Weppler?  She loved to eat ice.  Everyone in my family loves chewing on ice (except my dad, who ironically gives us the Weppler name.)  Goldie ate ice from the beginning and all the way to the end. It was fun to finish a drink and give her your ice.  Fun to kick the ice across the floor and have her run after it. Fun and funny to see a piece of ice stuck to her fur. (I promise I’d remove it after a laugh!)  And ice was the best when she couldn’t or wouldn’t drink. On our long road trips, when it would be hard to drink, I could reach back and give her ice cube after ice cube after ice cube.  And when she’d get hot, but wouldn’t drink, she would still eat ice.  Goldie usually was ok with drinking water—but I think it got harder towards the end.  She’d go most of the day without drinking, then we’d hear her literally lapping up water (or trying to lap up water…) for a straight ten minutes. No joke! She was just getting hydrated.  But she stopped drinking water in the past couple weeks. And ice kept her going.  In fact, that was the last thing she ate.  While we sat in the room at the vet’s (a very nice room with lovely couches and a soft, soft rug), my Mom fed her Sonic ice.  She ate every piece.  She loved ice.  And we loved giving it to her, because it made her so happy.

Want to know the other food she enjoyed for her last midnight snack and morning treat?  Bluebell Ice Cream. That’s how we know she was a true Texan!  As I stayed up through the night with her, I grabbed a pint a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and ate it all in one go.  Bu I wondered if Goldie would like some.  And yes, Goldie did want some!  I picked up melting globs of ice cream (making sure they had no big chocolate chips) and handed them to her as she rested on the couch.  She’d lick it up, lick her lips and look for more—so she got more and more and eventually lapped it up from a spoon.  But then bits got into her little “beard” below her mouth—so I had to wipe it away, which she did not like… I guess I could have given her some more, but I did not want her to get sick. And on her final day she also enjoyed some Strawberries and Homemade Vanilla ice cream.  Goldie loved treats—even when she wasn’t supposed to have it… She enjoyed a Lion bar that my dad received for Christmas one year.  She stole some banana bread my aunt and uncle baked last Christmas (and fought to keep it! ) She loved poking her head into the pantry or trying to get up on the table—at least, when she could stand on her hind legs or jump.  We used to have to push our chairs in because if we didn’t, guess who’d be on the table? One happy dog cleaning up your plate—and the leftovers too!  She was especially happy at family reunions because they didn’t know the chair rule or the “don’t leave your plate or drink on the floor” rule or just left their food unattended for a second too long.  She was quick. She was stealthy. She was Goldie.

She had some favorite family members.  Our cousin Travis is a tall guy, so she’d kinda shrink a bit when he walked in—but he was always so sweet and kind to her and she loved it when he pet her.  She enjoyed our cousins and aunts and uncles—but especially Grandma and Haskell.  We’d go out there regularly and she could walk around and have fun. Plus, they watched her and kept her all the times we’d travel.  Grandma took such good care of her.  She was going to even watch her this upcoming weekend as we went out of town for a wedding. But Haskell was her favorite. He truly spoiled her and gave her all his love and brightened when she entered the room.  Now remember how I said Goldie used to tremble when she had to go in the car?  And remember how she also got nervous when we said Apple?  Well, when we would go take her to her second home, we’d say “Let’s go to Grandma and Haskell’s!” or just “Ready to see Haskell?” or “Grandma and Haskell” And, not because she didn’t want to see them but because she did not like riding in the car back then, she would run to her pen and hide and tremble.  And, well, because dogs aren’t Einsteins and Goldie had hearing problems… eventually you could just say “Apple” and she’d run away, because “Apple” sounds like “Haskell.” Oh Goldie.  Back when you used to hear well…

One of the issues with cocker spaniels is that they have those beautiful, fluffy ears that hang down low and wobble to and fro—and that means the inside of their ear closes up and gets hot and… well, gross. Wax could build up, especially in the Houston humidity, and her ears could get real hot and nasty—and time and time again, they’d get infected. We would try our best to prevent using ear cleaner and cotton balls—but she hated it and would also be still or scatter anytime she saw the bottle (which could be helpful as a disciplinary tool or when you didn’t want her near your plate…) But even if you did it weekly and kept them clean, they’d get infected.  The vets understood, though, and usually said, “Yep—that’s what we call “cocker ear” Eventually though, one vet suggested we “pack” her ears with a special medicine—and once we did that, two things happened: 1. She stopped getting ear infections all the time (only occasionally) 2. She soon lost most of her hearing.  Maybe they’re not related, but I’m guessing they were.  Still, Goldie heard some things.  Fireworks—even on TV—would cause her to bark.  Squeaky doors. High pitched noises.  She heard me shout “Goldie” the other day even though she was facing away from me.  She heard something on TV the other day—can’t remember what it was… But even though she couldn’t hear, we talked to her all the time.

“Good girl.” “You’re such a pretty girl!” “Need to go outside? Outside?”  “Hey sweet girl…”  “Mmm, yummy!” “You want up?”  “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”  “Ready!?!”  “Want a chewie?” “Sorry, sorry Goldie.”  “NO!”  “What’s that?”  “Goldie girl…”  “I love you”  These are just a few of the things that Goldie could hear from us on a daily basis—well, if she could hear.  But we talked to her all the time.  I know I felt like a crazy person at times, but she liked the attention.  After all, she was royalty.

Goldie’s full name was “Lady Goldilocks Wepler.”  Originally we had a big discussion about her name, and one of the front runners was actually “Nike” because she was a white pattern of fur on the back of her neck that looked like a Nike swoosh.  I’m so glad we didn’t name her that, though, because after she was a puppy, it pretty much morphed into a white blob (sort of like how she did too!)  No, we named her Lady Goldilocks Weppler because she was part of the family, she was our golden girl, and she acted like a lady (when she wanted to…)  She always like to sit up and she’d look poised and pose like the Sphynx.  Or she’d sit on the top of the couch, somehow balanced, only falling a couple times, and perch up top like Snoopy on his doghouse.  Honestly, I think Goldie was part cat.  She liked to perch.  She liked to keep to herself, but still wanted people to admire her.  But she especially loved to groom herself like a cat—her paws, her legs, her… undercarriage.  But you know what?  She also tried to keep us clean, and she loved to lick your feet!  I guess either she was serving Master or she treated us like her puppies or she just liked the salt or the taste on our skin. Maybe a bit of all three.  But she would give your foot a tongue bath—or your hands, your arms, even your face if you let her get too close.  Goldie was also pretty unladylike and gross sometimes.  She would rub her eyes against the couch arm and remove the eye boogers, then lick them off the couch.  She would… clean her undercarriage for way too long… But you know what? She drew the lines at other dogs butts.  She didn’t socialize with many dogs growing up, so I don’t think she ever grasped the “dog greeting” of sniffing butts.  She didn’t do it to others—and if a dog came up and tried to say hello to her down below, her face would freeze and she’d look like a man going through a prostrate exam!  Ooh!  Goldie would then hustle away, surely saying, “WHAT are you doing? I’m a lady!” When we lived with the Hoover family, their two dogs Claire and Ivy would bark at her and she’d return the favor—but I think they all thought the other was strange.

She definitely thought she was a person.  She loved to sit on the couch with us.  While everyone watched TV or read or worked on a computer, she’d look around, stare into space, or just sleep peacefully. She loved sitting on our loveseat with Mom.  She liked sitting at Dad’s feet where he could reach down and pet her.  She always found the best places to sit or rest.  Underneath the table at Grandma’s (though the day eventually came that she was too big to fit there—which she discovered AFTER she already crawled in!)  By the window at Grandma’s so she could see people outside and bark.  Underneath my bed in Chicago. In the dark bathroom in Bellville.  At my feet at the dinner table (back when that meant free table scraps). At the townhouse, she found the perfect place to sit: the intersection of the front entrance and stairs, where she could keep an eye on the kitchen and block your way if you tried to sneak past her.  She loved to sit outside when Dad would work in the yard. And when I lived with the Hoovers, she claimed a dog bed that was made for a dog MUCH smaller than her—but she would fit her body in the bed JUST perfectly and fall asleep.  The Hoovers gave it to us when we moved away—she enjoyed it for years. 

Goldie loved to sleep.  On the couch. In the bathroom on the cold tile.  In the van.  In her cage, her pen, or wherever she would plop down.  When she slept, she was in perfect peace.  I loved to lay down beside her and pet her and watch and listen to her breathe.  When I lived in Chicago, I had a low bed, and she could get on and off pretty easy.  For those two years, she would sleep in my bed (sometimes peeing the bed…) either at my feet or right beside me so I could rest beside her warm, cozy fur.  We rested beside each other for her last night—first on the couch, then on the carpet, then up in my bed. She even rested on my chest.  Normally she didn’t love that—but maybe that was her gift to me. 

Goldie Bed

She was my buddy.  I was the one that wanted a dog so much. I had hamsters and fish, but wanted a real pet. I recently found my Christmas wish list from 5th grade—sure enough, “Dog” was on it, as well as “Remote Control Car” and “Video Camera.”  While we lived overseas, it was too difficult to have a dog. But when we moved back to Texas as I entered 6th grade, we started our search.  We almost got an Alaskan Malamute at the Willowbrook Mall. Almost brought home a rescue.  But no, one day we went to a pet store somewhere in the Houston area and we found Goldie. She showed us what we’d have on our hands by jumping out of Mom’s arms while she was standing… but we fell in love and she came home with us.  She was the cutest puppy.  Precious.  She almost looked like a completely different dog.  But she grew up and eventually looked like the Goldie we knew within a year or two.  And Goldie had her favorites.  First, Mom.  Not just because she fed her, but I know that was a huge part.  Then Dad—he was definitely the commander in chief.  Then, depending on the year, Amanda or me. I always felt that Goldie didn’t like me.  Sometimes I played too much with her or made her wear a silly Christmas elf’s hat… but sometimes she straight up didn’t like me.  I accepted it and still loved her with all my heart.  And you know what? When my parents moved to Nigeria, who was going to take care of Goldie? I was overjoyed to bring her to Chicago with me!  At that point she was twelve and we figured, “Well, this might be it.”  Cocker Spaniels often live to be twelve or thirteen.  I didn’t want a “My Dog Skip” experience and find out she passed away while I was gone—so I treasured the time she spent with me. And I think she did too.  By the time we moved back down, I think I moved up in her list.  Mom was probably still number one. (I mean, we did call her “Mommy” around Goldie.)  But depending on the day, I was a close second—maybe even tied. (Sorry Dad, I think I moved up.)  I loved Goldie.  She was my buddy. She sat with me, traveled with me, enjoyed Life with me and was a comfort over the years as I’ve struggled with anxiety attacks, depression, grief and pain.  Just holding her and hugging her healed my spirit, calmed my fears.  So, on her last day, after we gave her the anesthesia, after we spent 20 minutes petting her, holding her, lying beside her, we got up to go—but I couldn’t.  I turned back and got down and hugged her. I tried to go again, but had to go back once more, tearing up, and pet her one last time.  Tried again, and had to touch her one last time… because it was the last time I’ll ever get to hold, pet, touch Goldie.  I can’t remember all I said—“I’m sorry.” “I love you.” “I’ll miss you.” “Goodbye” or how many times I went back… but finally, I had to turn away and exit the room.  And then we stepped outside and I went to sit down in the van where she had been lying 40 minutes ago…

Goldie never liked going to the vet—who did?  Still, she was a trooper and went back again and again through all her ailments. Ear infection.  Vomiting.  Teeth issues. Diarrhea. Urinary Tract Infection. Enlarged Heart.  Those last three came up in the last couple days.  She had been peeing blood, so that’s why we brought her in on Monday morning, knowing it was serious, but not expecting that this might be it. She had diarrhea at the vet’s—and the vet tech said they think that was a sign her organs were shutting down. And she was breathing heavy- and at times faint—which was really a sign of her enlarged heart or lung issues.  We did all we could to take care of it, but, you know, Goldie lived to be about 135 years old (depending on how you do the math). That’s pretty amazing.  Goldie stuck through it all—but still, she didn’t like going to the vet. Her favorite part about going to the vet was LEAVING the vet. She always walked out, strolled out, or dragged herself and me out the door, frantically racing to get back to the car where it was safe. Then she’d have this smirk like she was thinking, “Hah! We escaped! Let’s go!”  So, as we sat in the exam room on Wednesday morning, after the vet gave us time to think about our decision, I gave Goldie one last great escape. I carried her out the door and set her down in the grass. She hadn’t been doing much walking that last day, surely because she was tired and hadn’t eaten much, but sure enough, she figured we were making a break for it, and she started heading for the getaway car.  “No, wrong car Goldie” I said as I steered her to the van.  I unlocked and opened the door and she stepped down off the curb (a little shaky) and hobbled over the van.  And as I lifted her up, she tried her best to climb up, like she always did.  I placed her down on her pillow and she smiled and panted.  “We did it, Evan!” she seemed to say.  “Let’s go!”  I sat and lay beside her and surrounded her with love.  Earlier, I think she’d sensed something in the exam room—and she became very serious, which was so heartbreaking to see.  I don’t cry much—not because “I’M A DUDE AND I DON’T CRY!” but I just don’t cry much. (I also had issues with my tear ducts as a baby…) But that last day… oh, the tears kept falling down… I tried to stop, but didn’t want to. I wanted to cry, to let it all out, but I didn’t want to upset Goldie.  Anyway, she started to tremble a bit in that room and it hurt to see her that way. But when we sat out in the van? It was less than 5 minutes, but while she basked in the sun, she was glowing and beaming and sitting up, proud as could be.  And even when I had to pick her up and bring her back in, her spirits seemed to have been lifted and she could be herself once more.

And she was Goldie to the end. You see, Goldie did have a problem with biting. If we tried to grab a piece of trash or foo that she shouldn’t have, we risked a SNAP!  If you touched the wrong part of her sensitive ears or touched something on her body she didn’t like, HEY! she would say with a lunge. I actually was often afraid of introducing her to others or bringing her places, because she could have hurt someone.  She broke the skin on one of our hands before.  Only occasionally would she bite for more than half a second. It was always reactionary, always in defense, always to show us that she was Goldie and she wasn’t taking it!  Well, after we sat in “the room” at the vet’s, lying on the soft rug, eating ice, the time finally came for the anesthetic.  I tried to hold Goldie and distract her as they shaved the fur on her leg for the shot.  And sure enough, Goldie didn’t like that!  She bit my thumb for the last time and tried to snap at the vet and the tech.  HEY! she said. LEAVE MY LEG ALONE!  They finished their job and gave Goldie the best sleep she probably ever had.  They said it would kick in over fifteen minutes, but once they closed the door, it happened fast. Goldie stood up and looked defiantly at the door, “Hah! Scared them off!” She started to walk around—but she became dizzy. Within 20 seconds she started to lose her balance, so we led her to the pillow and she plopped down and found her head resting on Mom’s leg.  She felt out of it… That was hard to watch.  Her eyes stayed open as we pet her, loved her, spoke to her. I slipped in and she rested on my leg for a bit.  I lay beside her. I cried, but was exhausted.  I know Mom was too.  But you know who wasn’t? Goldie.  She was comfy, resting with her favorite people on a nice pillow and soft rug.  And even at the end, Goldie made us laugh. She shook her head a bit, like she’d always do with her hot irritated ears.  And, as the vet said, the tip of her tongue came out of her mouth, then it curled all the way out and up, and sure enough she was licking her nose a bit.  We laughed a bit, but then it became too hard. Too real.  And I tried to say goodbye.

“She’s still with us,” Mom said to me today. I know memories are. The love we received is with us. The way she impacted our lives will remain. But she is gone.  I certainly don’t believe in reincarnation or ghosts. I don’t have firm beliefs on where animals go when they die.  I have heard reasons and seen Scripture cited for both sides.  I could tell what I’ve believed for most my life.  Or I could tell you what I hope, hope, hope could be true—and how I could explain why.  But for now, this isn’t about what will be, could be, might be.  This is what was—and now what is.

I put the word on Facebook. I posted photos.  I read people’s kind comments.  But it truly was at its hardest on Wednesday evening when someone asked how Goldie was doing—and I couldn’t reply “Just OK” or “We’re seeing how the medicine will kick in” or “Much Better!”  No, I had to say the words: “We had to put her to sleep this morning…” It was actually about 12:30 when it happened. But we went in around 10:30.  It took 2 hours to say goodbye… When I had to say those words, I wanted to break down and cry, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t cry anymore.  Once I left the building, I haven’t been able to cry. I want to cry. I want to cry so badly.  I’ve teared up.  I’ve felt the hurt—but I can’t cry again. My eyes have been red, partly from crying yesterday, but also because I’ve used up my tears and my eyes have been drying up.  I feel like once that door closed, I closed the door on crying for Goldie. 

As I left the room, I wondered “Is she watching us leave?”  They said she was asleep, unconscious, whatever, but her eyes were open and staring out.  I hoped she didn’t think we were leaving her.  I know what is factual, but it can’t stop what I feel.  And honestly, I feel so much regret.  Why didn’t I spend more time with her? Why didn’t we get a doggy date with Avalyn and Shari’s dogs? Why didn’t I take more pictures and videos of her?  Ooh, here’s one I just thought of—why didn’t I get her a real birthday cake or present?  More.  Why didn’t I walk around the house in Bellville with her this weekend instead of working in my room?  Why didn’t we make sure she took that heart pill? Why didn’t we make sure she ate? Why didn’t we get her teeth cleaned?  I know all the right answers to these questions.  And honestly, I don’t feel guilt.  I know we did the best we could.  We didn’t get her teeth cleaned again because a vet said if they gave her anesthesia for the procedure she might not wake up.  We tried our best—and she still lived SO very long!  Not as long as Uno the Cocker Spaniel (lived to be, what, 25?) but still, SO long. And she was happy!  I don’t feel guilt—I feel regret.  But I feel regret about everything from where I ate lunch to my field of study in college. I wish I did more. It’s never enough.  So with that in mind, I will tell myself—I did my best. I wasn’t perfect. But I cared for Goldie as much as I could an we enjoyed so much together. I have so many memories.

  • When she’d come from the groomers and have little bows in her ears, then lose one immediately and keep the other for months
  • When Amanda and I took her to Garvan Woodland Gardens with us and she walked SO much and panted SO much I felt bad and carried her til she could get some water
  • The first time she encountered snow and I filmed it on my phone as I led her into the apartment courtyard to see her reaction—and she simply squatted and peed like it was just any other day…
  • Finding her “presents” when I’d get home or discovering a new wet spot in the carpet…
  • Hearing people say “She looks like a puppy!” when they saw her and “No! Really?” when they found out she was 11+ years old
  • When she was still nervous about the car and would inch forward bit by bit while I was driving until she was basically on top of the gear shift and I’d have to push her back again and again!
  • How she loved/hated the pool cleaning robot and would chase it around and around the pool, barking at it, waiting for its tail to come out of the water and spray her. Once or twice she fell n and had to swim to the side to continue her vigilant watch
  • Taking her to work one day at Poplar because the repairman came to work on the A/C, then smelling her “present” under the staff table, and taking her on our walking meeting
  • Seeing her sit on the porch on her last Saturday out in Bellville, watching a fly keep landing on her nose while she’d either lick it away, shake her head or freeze, unsure of what to do
  • How she’s “unwrap” her presents covered in tissue paper and play more with the paper than the gift. Typical kid…
  • How I’d try to keep her spotless like a monkey mama, picking out any bugs (I was always the one who knew when she had tics or fleas), skin tags, and other bumps or marks. She didn’t like it…
  • Hearing her collar jingle, jangle as she walked around… I felt like I just heard it now…
  • When she used to be able to run, she’d run so fast we could really race. Especially off her leash. She used to never like going for walks, but that changed when we moved to Chicago.
  • Coming in the house and immediately trying to find where she was sleeping—and if she was still breathing. We all did that this past year…
  • Seeing her sit in the window at Grandma and Haskell’s, getting so excited as we arrived
  • Seeing her tumble down the stairs at the Hoovers once or twice…
  • Being so annoyed by her bark echoing off the porch window at my apartment in Chicago as she barked at every squirrel, dog and person she saw– and we were by the main entrance…
  • Giving her the occasional bath in the bathtub—she actually relaxed for her last one
  • Trying to prepare a yummy bowl of food with different things mixed in
  • Putting a blanket over her and making it look like she was taking a human nap
  • How she used to paw at the wooden blinds at our old house whenever she wanted to go out
  • How we could say “Close the door” and work her up into a frenzy until she ran up at the door and shut it. Or didn’t, but still thought the run was successful and didn’t understand why we were still telling her to close the door!
  • One of her fun tricks—High Five! (Similar to the door—just saying it enough times until she tried to swipe at you!)
  • Pretending like she was well behaved and telling her to do something right before she did it—as she starts to turn around: “Ok go lay down—good girl!”
  • How we first met Lane, Goldie’s obedience school trainer, years ago—then completely unrelatedly married our cousin Brandon
  • How Goldie used to howl when Dad played the piano
  • How she’d get so impatient and excited when she was hungry and pawed at us to hurry
  • How she’d scarf her food down before we even finished praying and come beg at the table
  • She didn’t really like toys after a couple years, but loved playing tug of war, loved squeaky toys, and loved chasing and chewing bottles—when we found a toy that you could place a water bottle inside, it was magic for her! Of course, then she’d try to swallow the cap and eat plastic, so we’d have to stop
  • She loved so many different treats over the years. Pupparoni and Beggin Strips. Her favorite for a while was a Pig’s Ear chew!  Then we found that they were too dangerous. Next a rawhide chew.  Again, too dangerous. Finally, we found a dental chew that she loved—and that remained until some point last year.
  • She never really seemed to watch or be aware of TV or images—I guess all dogs are different. But she did sometimes face the TV, because we were all facing the TV together!
  • When I’d travel to and from Illinois, she had to be with me, so I made many stops along the way. Luis. Kate. The Boswell’s ranch. Devin. Christian. Curtis and Lindsay. Camp. (She picked up SO many things in her fur one time!) La Quinta and Day’s Inn became favorite stops because they allowed pets. Occasionally I had to leave her in the car—the Ragamuffin movie premier, stopping for BBQ in Memphis, etc. But she always waited and rested until the next adventure
  • I said she said a “gooshy tummy”
  • We had gates in our house, a box at the stairs at the Hoovers’, and a strip of cardboard at the townhome, all to keep Goldie in her safe area… still, she managed to escape when someone left a gate open or when a broken gate propped up by a box was suddenly moved (I wonder by who!?!?) And then it would be quiet—too quiet—and we’d race upstairs or to another room to see what she was getting into.  Somehow she could ALWAYS find hidden snacks!
  • At one point, she liked sleeping in my room when I was younger—so when we’d say “You Ready?!?” she would FREAK OUT and race up and down the stairs until it was time.
  • I tried to always keep fans going to help keep her cool in her heavy coat
  • Mom would call her “poor pavrecito”
  • The picture my parents sent me when I went off to college of her and a sign saying, “…Go Bearz. …don’t forget me …i’m hungry” with a few typos and reversed letters
  • How we’d always give Dad (occasionally Mom) a card “from Goldie”
  • The times Amanda would come stay with me in Chicago or she’d join me for the ride to or from Texas and it would be the three of us
  • Bringing her by the CBC office just once I think… too many people for her to relax, probably
  • When I’d work at Poplar Creek and she’d walk around the basement area, paws hitting the plastic tiles with big plunk, plunk, plunk sounds
  • Cleaning her ears or doing other good things for her—even if she didn’t like it at the time
  • The wonderful times we spent together in every home we shared—Springmint, the Apartment, the Hoovers, the Townhome, and Lola.
  • Her smell. This one will probably be the first to go—as best as I’ve tried to find things that still smell like her, it’s not enough.  Nothing will ever be enough.  I have locks of her hair. We tried making impressions of her feet. We could have done more, but we did what we did and it is good.

It was the right time. Goldie still recognized us. We all got to say goodbye to her. We all got pictures. She was still happy—even wagging her tail in her last hours. She smiled. She “escaped” the vet. She was hugged and kissed and surrounded with love. Maybe she could have lived another day, another weekend, or more. Maybe. But this was peaceful. This was loving.  This was… I can’t say right. I can’t say good.  No matter what, it still hurts.  I’m sorry we had to put you down Goldie.  But it was… time.

We waited outside the vet’s office until it was done. Mom asked them to let us know when it was done. I didn’t want to be there, or at least I didn’t want to witness anything that might be a natural process but would be traumatic to see. I didn’t want to hear anything either—even if it was another dog or unrelated, it would still be in my mind. We waited outside on the curb. Mom and I talked. We hugged and talked.  I kept glancing over at the door, thinking someone was coming out.  And eventually, the vet walked out, quietly, hands lowered, solemnly telling us… I can’t remember exactly what she said. But whatever words she used, this is what it meant: Goldie is dead.

We had to put down Goldie.

Goldie died.

I like the nicer ways of saying it. We said goodbye. We put her to sleep. She passed away. But at the end of the day, Goldie is no longer alive. And I miss her.  I missed her the moment I left that room. As I sat on the curb. As we drove through Wendy’s. As I went to work that day. As my mom picked me up that evening. As I came home to a house without Goldie. All her artifacts and blankets and pillows and pads and food and medicine and bowls and toys and more scattered everywhere—but Goldie will never be here again. 

It’s hard. So hard. Pictures help. I took some wonderful pictures—she is beautiful.  Staying busy helps, so I go back to work.  Keeping busy helps—because if I stop, I’ll want to cry… and I still can’t cry.

I miss you Goldie. I love you. Thank you for being my buddy for more than sixteen years. More than half my life. I don’t know how it’s going to be without you in my life. And today was just Day One.

Today, I arrived home from work. I unlocked the door and entered in. The lights were all out and no one was home.  The house was completely empty…

 

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