Can you handle another Golden Retriever story? I promise, I'll cut back after this one.
As much as I love Rosey, she was not the first Golden Retriever in my life. Rosey really is more Paul's dog than ours anyway. It took nearly a year for me and Rose to bond. She has always seen me as competition, mostly for Paul's attention. She can be really funny. If she sees him hug me, she'll start to bark and jump up and down. Sometimes we do it just to piss her off.
The first Golden love of my life was Jessie. I still tear up when I think of her. Jessie came into my life in 1984 when she was just 7 weeks old. What happened was I sort of threw my ex-husband out one week and brought her home the next.
I don't know that I was really looking for a dog but when I saw an ad in the paper for Golden puppies for $125, I called my mother and asked "How would you like to buy me a dog?" Money was tight to say the least. A friend drove me to the house of what I realized later was a 'backyard breeder' (note: don't buy from such a breeder without doing your homework) and there were ten little Golden Retriever puppies lined up in a row. I picked one and home she came.
Let me say, I was not prepared to have a puppy. First of all, I was alone and I worked full-time so she was by herself entirely too much. There was Tigger the cat who at 2 years old watched her with a "What is THAT and when is IT leaving" stare. For a few weeks my mother came to my house at noontime to feed Jess and let her out.
It was a challenge but I loved her immediately. She was there during a very difficult time in my life. She was company, and it was wonderful not to come home to an empty house but to that unconditional love of a dog. I had my own home with a nice yard and a cousin put up a dog run for me. Jessie rode well in the car and went most everywhere with me. We were a great team.
A couple years later Paul came into our lives. Always a dog lover, he and Jessie got along great. He tried to make a hunter out of her but she turned out to be gun shy. He never did like Tigger, however, who lived another 14 years, but we were a package deal and he put up with her.
One day in 1990 Jessie came in from her morning walk, laid down and wouldn't get up. She laid there panting and panting. At first I thought maybe she had gotten bumped by a car although there weren't any marks. That night, there was no change. The next day we took her to the vet who put her under anesthesia and x-rayed her.
The x-rays of her hips showed what the vet said was the worst case of hip displasia she had ever seen. Even without any medical knowledge, we could see the calcification and the misalignment in her hip joints. The only solutions were to put her down or to do a hip replacement. She was only 6 years old.
We took her home to talk about it and do some research. Jessie still could barely walk, and I was carrying her outside daily. After three weeks, I finally made a contact with Angel Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston. After much discussion of the costs, etc, we made an appointment.
We carried Jessie in that Monday morning, she had the surgery on Wednesday and walked out with us on Friday! It was like a miracle. They had shaved almost a quarter of her torso right down to her foot, she had an incision that took 15 staples to close but she could walk and came out with her tail wagging when she saw us.
The doctor said the reason for her final collapse was that an osteophyte, or bone spur, had broken off and lodged in her hip joint. She must have been in tremendous pain. The surgery cost $2,000 but somehow I found the money and never regretted it. More than one person at that time thought I was crazy to spend that kind of money on a dog, but I never ever considered the other option. Her recovery was total, and she lived another seven years with her artificial hip.
In the fall of 1997 after a good long life of nearly 14 years she was failing and stopped eating. I would have done just about anything to keep her going but I had promised her that I would do the right thing when the time came. I counted on Jessie to let me know when it was time. That time had come.
Our vet who was there for us during the surgery came to the house and said she was in kidney failure. She sent Jessie to her final sleep on her bed in the kitchen as I sobbed with my hands buried in her fur. It was the hardest thing I had ever done but I always said I would be with her to the end. It was very peaceful, and although I couldn't look at her, Paul said the look in her eyes was grateful.
When it was over, Paul and I took her out and buried her on her bed in the orchard where there is still a marker with her name and dates.