Carly with her clipped swimmer’s coat
Drove to the Vet today with Carly, our Golden Retriever, and came home without her. We had adopted Carly from a shelter. She had a good life before arriving at the shelter, except for losing her left eye to cancer at age three. We owned a Golden before, her name was Ginger. She was put to sleep before reaching age twelve; went blind, deaf, and then her organs started shutting down. But then this isn’t about Ginger.
Her owner was an elderly man who walked Carly every morning at the same time. When they passed a neighbor’s house, Carly knew to stop at the gate if the inside front door was open, she’d bark, the lady would come out, and give her a Milk Bone. Suddenly, several days passed and the lady had not seen Carly or her owner, but his truck was there. She dialed 911. Police came and found the old man lying on the kitchen floor dead. It appeared he had fallen and hit his head on the counter. Carly was lying on him; she’d licked his wound clean.
The neighbor tried to keep Carly, but she had two dogs of her own and Carly was what some folks would refer to as an “Alpha Dog.” Reluctantly, she turned her over to a local “no-kill” shelter, she was eight years old.
We lived on a lake with another dog, a crazy Australian Shepherd named Zeke, who was also from a shelter. We had talked about getting another Golden as they are wonderful, loving, friendly dogs, and they love water — we lived on a small private lake. Nancy was scanning the shelters online one day and there was Carly. That afternoon we drove to shelter, took one look at her, and she looked at us with her one eye — it was love at first sight.
Surprisingly, she did not like the lake, obviously her previous owner had never taken her to a pond or such. The first time I took her in the water with me she was scared, trembling. But the inbred instincts took over and in a matter of minutes she was swimming like an Olympian.
When anyone, especially the grand kids, were in the water, Carly was there keeping her one eye on them. Soon , she could not be kept out of the water, regardless of the time of the year. Being a retriever, she loved it when the kids would throw a ball as far out in the lake as they could. She would run, dive off the dock, and return with the ball. Then the fun would begin, she’d bring it back, but they had to chase her down to get it; that was the fun part for Carly.
In our lake, were large fresh-water mussels (inedible I was told, and I never tried). Soon, one of the grand kids found that if they threw a mussel in the water near shore, Carly would walk around on her hind legs until she felt it, then dive underwater and retrieve it. As this new game progressed, I became amazed at how long she could stay underwater. I timed her once — 72 seconds, longer than could any of the young grand kids!
Carly aged along with Nancy and I. Finally, like he me, she started to show signs of Arthritis, not the typical hip dysplasia found in many large breeds. This past year it became worse week by week. Our Vet in IL prescribed some shots, but was to no avail. Finally the Vet suggested Tramadol as she expected she was in pain. We’d take Carly and Zeke with us on the morning walks, but as time went on, Carly’s capable distance grew shorter and shorter.
During the past year she became unable to accommodate stairs without some help with the hind quarters. Then it became difficult for her to walk, and to even stand. For the past few weeks, I would wrap a towel under her hind quarters and help her outside to take care of business.
Finally, Nancy and I decided it was time. We drove to the Vet today, got her into the office with the help of the towel under her bottom. I sat on the floor with her as they gave her a shot to relax her. As her breathing slowed, she looked up at me with that one eye and laid her head down as though to say ‘Bye Dad.”
Then the fatal injection. Her brain and her heart stopped. I tried, oh how I tried, to fight back the tears, but couldn’t.
Why is it we become so attached to pets? Some would say, “their just animals.” No they are not — their family. Animals are precious, God’s gift to the world. They love you so much. I miss Carly so much, but I know she is better off than she was this morning as I all but carried her 75 pounds out to the car. She will be cremated and on my next trip to that house on the lake she enjoyed so much, I will spread her ashes off the swimming dock. She was 15 years and 3 months old, she had a good life, and she provided Nancy and I with eight years of unconditional love.
Why is my keyboard so wet?