Just over 10 years ago, I met this really amazing guy. I think you can tell a lot about a guy by watching his interaction with his pet. Well, he “had me at hello” when I met his two furry children, golden retrievers Husker and Chloe. Don’t get me wrong – we had plenty of challenges in our dating days. I had trust issues from the debacle the previous marriage had made of my life and I brought kids entering their teen years to the table. In fact, we used to joke about the fact that we were a blended family with its pros and cons: his “children” gave us unconditional love, but we didn’t need to use a pooper-scooper after my children when they went to the bathroom 😉 A few years ago, we lost our sweet, rescue-Golden, Chloe, as she peacefully fell into eternal sleep with Scott holding her. And while we loved her dearly, we suspected she had been abused before he got her and she struggled with truly connecting to him – her person. Husker was a different story. That smart golden with the most beautiful eyes bonded almost immediately to me and to both of our kids. Husker loved intensely, especially Scott…his person.
So, you can imagine the shock we experienced a week ago Monday, on our 9th wedding anniversary, when we awoke to find that Husker had suffered some sort of stroke in the wee hours of the morning. But he had survived it and was fighting to learn to walk again.
That is where the true love of a man’s best friend for his person and his person’s true love for his “child” of 12 ½ years came into play.
After our visit to the vet, where we were told that at 12 ½ years old, we would know in 2 to 3 days if Husker would regain his ability to walk, run, play, etc. In those first few days, he learned to get up only for his person; he re-learned how to walk, although awkwardly and with much effort, only for his person; he wasn’t eating or drinking, but would take an occasional bite of food or drink a few sips of water only for his person.
After 8 days, it became clear that Husker was not going to recover and would most likely leave this world from malnutrition or pain…ideas that neither Scott nor I could bear. On day 9, we returned to the vet for one last look and made the most difficult decision. Husker’s person and I helped him go to doggie heaven before those “eventual options” would occur.
On October 18, I sobbed and held MY person as he held Husker and we loved him until he was gone, his person holding him in his arms. Heartbroken, but knowing we had done the right thing.
You see, as a kid and even young adult, I had a few pets, but never had I needed to aid them into their final rest, nor had I ever truly bonded with them as any more than “my pet.” It really was not until Scott introduced the golden retriever breed to us that I understood what “man’s best friend” truly meant.
Each day gets a bit better around here, but Scott still tears up when he gets home from work at the absence of Husker and his thumping tail greeting Scott. Our 1 ½ year old golden, Osborne, has yet to “find Husker” in the house – and he looks a lot for him. When the kids come home at Thanksgiving, we will have our own version of laying Husker to rest. Our lives will go on and each day will get better, but he will be grieved, because we lost a member of our family on October 18. We did not just lose a pet this past week – we said a hard goodbye to an amazing, loving, loyal member of our family.
Husker, your persons miss you!
Note from the SHE Files:
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — Anatole France