This is Spencer, our Golden Retriever who passed away about a year ago. He was a good dog, docile with the kids, tolerating ear tugs and smacks on the head. He would knock them over with his tail in excitement. He lived a long life, but was plagued with arthritis and bad hips. At 14 years old, his time came to an end. I find myself thinking of him almost every day, especially now. He loved the snow. He would play and roll in it like a puppy. It was a joy to see an old dog get so excited.
He was my husband’s dog when we met. I was a cat person, not much interested in dogs and Spencer was no different. He had dog breath that no breath mint could tame. He loved eating condoms, maxi pads and dirty diapers. He could over turn the garbage can in seconds. He tripped me in the middle of the night on my way to the bathroom. He barked two minutes after I got the baby to sleep and wouldn’t stop. He tried to tackle whoever came to the door to give them kisses. He peed on my father-in-law’s shoes out of sheer excitement. Despite all these things, he grew on me. He became part of our family, just the three of us. When the babies were born, he became even more ingrained in our family tapestry. It was really hard to say goodbye to him. After all, he had been with my husband and I since the beginning. He was a part of “us”.
The kids miss him terribly. He is still included in family drawings and pictures. M. cries some nights talking about him, wondering where her old dog has gone. She worries she will never see him again, never get to hug his neck or smell his fur. It breaks my heart not to be able to console her or tell her with confidence she will see him again. We talk about him running in Heaven, young again, pain-free. In our minds he is swimming in a warm lake, chasing his cat brothers that went to Heaven before him and munching on pig ears to his heart’s content. I try to paint a picture in her young mind of peace and happiness where Spencer is still very much “alive” and waiting for all of us. Cynthia Rylant’s book, Dog Heaven, was in heavy rotation around here for a while, until it got too depressing to read anymore. Back to Fancy Nancy and lighter literary fare.
We can never replace him, but we are talking about adopting another dog. I miss the companionship and security a dog brings. I miss watching the girls walking a dog down the street twice their size. I miss the smell of dog bones. I really miss a happy face and tail to greet me when I come home from school drop-off or the grocery store, as if I’ve been gone for years. I scour petfinder.com almost daily, hoping the right dog for us will jump off the page at me. Sometimes when you know, you know. I hope Spencer knew how much he was loved. And I pray he is overseeing our search, guiding us in the right direction with the wags of his tail.