Friday, February 12, 2010

The Best Dog There Ever Was

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.


Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Pets are so wonderful that it makes it so hard to lose them! I know, I've had to put down 3 cats and lost one dying on it's own. Always tough! Sorry for your loss.

cat said...

Oh I am crying now! Both our labs will soon be 8 years old and I am starting to see the first signs of ageing.

Pam said...

I have mascara running down my cheeks and I need to leave for work. AHHH!

Jessie was a wonderful dog. And I think you absolutely did the right thing with her surgery.

She is still missed by all her knew and loved her.

~Kristen~ said...

Oh Sandy, she is just precious! I am sitting here at my desk with tears streaming down my face. It is so hard for us to let go of our beloved pets. But they are all watching over us while they run and play at the Rainbow Bridge. And we will be with them once again!

Anne said...

What a beautiful dog and such a sweet story. And this should be a lesson to me not to read blogs at work because I'm sitting at my desk crying now!

Jayde said...

That story almost made me cry. Had to reign it in since I'm at work. I am more of a cat person, but dogs are great too. Thank you for sharing the story of your treasured friend.

Michele said...

Crying on my keyboard. When our beloved border collie got cancer and we had to put him down I thought it might kill us. Still hurts 4 years later.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Sad but beautiful post.

DUTA said...

What a touching little story! You know how to write Sandy, both about human beings and about pets. It's a gift from God. Thanks for sharing the moving tale about Jessie.

Shana said...

I'm totally tearing up here.

I don't think you are crazy for doing the surgery. I would do anything for my two crazy dogs. They are my babies. I totally get it and it sounds like you did the right thing by Jesse her whole life.

croneandbearit said...

Sobbing. Reminds me of the day I laid on the floor of the vets office and held our Australian Shepherd as he passed. Peaceful? Yes. Hard? OMG my husband and I were physically sick for weeks from the grief. Your Jessie was adorable & I see some EmmaLou there. EmmaLou is 6 now and the time is flying by so fast. I am so bonded to this dog, who acts more human than many humans I know, that should anything happen my husband will probably have to bury me too. I would take out a second mortgage if it would save her life, that's what this dog has done to my heart. We both absolutely adore her. Wonderful story, Sandy, and I'm so happy you had her at a time in your life when you needed her most. Thanks for sharing. gotta go hug EmmaLou now...and county my doggie blessings.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for sharing Jessie sounds like great friend. My dad lost his golden a few years ago--even as a career marine he was heartbroken.

Anita said...

You should have given the grab a tissue warning. What a beautiful story. I made my dd get up and read it, because she asked why I was crying!
Thanks for sharing Sandy, I love my puppies too!

Just Breathe said...

What a beautiful story. It's so hard when they get ill. We have had six dogs in our 38 years.
Our last two before Skye are going with us when we go.

tori said...

You made me cry and I never cry! what a sweet story! Returning the visit and following (I like your writing style too) :)


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