My Sweet Dog
He looked like a sweet dog but the timing couldn't be worse. I could go into labor any day and having a new baby and a new dog made as much sense as me taking up skydiving. Here's what happened.
After a week of rain, the sun shone brightly and my husband took our sons for a walk. He returned with two mud caked boys and a grinning, muddy, full grown Golden Retriever.
“Can we keep him? Please, please, please? He’s a really sweet dog. Dad says we can keep him if it’s okay with you”, pleaded my five and seven-year-old sons.
My eyes got big as saucers. I forced myself to sound calm and firmly said, “No. And do not let that dog in the house.”
The boys took off their shoes and socks and went upstairs to clean up while I paced in a waddling, overweight, grizzly bear kind of fashion. My husband had plunked down in front of the boob-tube, wisely avoiding eye contact with me and hoping it would avoid a confrontation. Fat chance.
“Are you crazy?!” I blurted out. “I have spent the last 8 months so sick I’ve barely been able to get out of bed, let alone take care of the boys and the pets, and you let them think we could have another dog? Izzy will be in heat in a few weeks! He’s a male with all working parts! What were you thinking!”
“But,” he answered, “He really is a sweet dog and the boys want him.”
I tilted my head, “So, this is about you not being able to say no, and making me do it?”
He looked at the television and said, “I just want the boys to be happy.”
I turned really quick (for a beached whale) and marched to the back door where that sweet dog was still loitering. I opened it and screamed, “Get out of here! Go! Go! Get!” and that filthy furry canine grabbed the door mat with his mouth and ran like a bat out of hell.
“We need a new mat,” I said, as I walked past and into the laundry room where I covered my face with my hands and cried over being so mean to that poor sweet dog.
A few days later I heard a scratch at the back door, telling me someone wanted in.
“Hold on, I’m coming,” I hollered.
I shooshed, because I was too tired to lift my feet. I reached around the corner to open it just enough to let the cat in, but as the knob turned, the door bolted open and hit the wall. In bounded that muddy dog who trotted right past me and straight to the sofa where my newest cat lay sleeping. He jumped on the sofa right next to the cat. Kitzer (leg now fully healed) levitated straight up in the air. The dog sat his big butt down just in time to lick the cat on his return trip. Panting and smiling that crazy sweet dog just sat there. My other cat, Roscoe, came down from the fridge and greeted him with a nose-to-nose sniff.
Next, there was a rumbling like a herd of buffalo as my female Golden Retriever, Izzy thundered down the stairs to see what was going on. The girl was in love and I was I in trouble.
After a week of trying to find his owner, I came to the conclusion it was me. The day I went into labor I took my new sweet dog, Isaac to the vet for neutering. The staff was concerned about my contractions and I was concerned about not having puppies. I told them it might be a few days before I could pick him up and headed home to get my sons to the neighbors so my husband could get me to the hospital.
Three days later we were all under one roof. We were a family of five humans, two Golden Retrievers, two cats and two ferrets. Isaac and I were both a little slow. Me from my cesarean, and poor Isaac from his surgery and medication. While I was in labor in the hospital, my husband had received a call from the vet’s office at our home phone because Isaac tested positive for heart worm. They said there was only a 50-50 chance of survival. My husband was so upset he called me at the hospital to ask me what to do. Being preoccupied and tired from nine hours of labor and rather miffed at being left alone there, I hung up on him. But both Isaac and I survived.
I really loved that sweet dog, but living with Isaac was no picnic. Usually a quiet dog, always great with the kids, the cats and the ferrets, he tended to have bouts of insanity. About once a week he would shove past one of us to get out the door and just run.
Well, he didn’t always just run. Once he snagged a softball in mid air during a game being held in the neighbor’s front yard. Then he ran. He was chased by four boys through the neighborhood, across the golf course and into the muddy creek. The ball was never found and the boys clothes never came clean.
Once my sweet dog was clipped by a UPS truck he was racing. My friend saw the truck hit him. Panicked, she followed a hobbling Isaac home. She envisioned him bleeding to death in the back yard, while she was pounding at the front door to tell me what had happened. We hurried out back to examine him and found one swollen toe. He had even stopped limping after I checked him over.
One hot summer day at the neighborhood pool, my sweet dog squeezed through the gate and jumped in to swim with us. It would have been cute had he not first rolled in decaying grass clippings, mud and smelled like something dead. I will never forget that smell. The lifeguard blew her whistle and cleared everyone out as the green gunk spread over the water’s surface like a living Blob from a cheap horror movie.
Isaac was even known to share golf cart rides with some of the players on our neighborhood’s little course. (They'd hit the ball and when they returned to their cart, that sweet dog would be sitting on the seat waiting for a ride.) And if not the pool, his crowning outdoor achievement was on the last day of a three day golf tournament. I got a call from the clubhouse… “Andrea, do you think you could try and catch Isaac? He’s on the 18th fairway stealing balls. We chased him into that thicket by the 18th green and he has quite a cache in there.”
Ninety-nine percent of his escapades were outdoors but I do recall two indoor heart breakers for me. One Thanksgiving my sweet dog decided to help himself to some turkey when we were done with our feast. I had left a turkey neck behind my set of china plates waiting to be washed by hand. Receiving one plate each Christmas, it took me 12 years to complete my set and it took Isaac one swipe with his paws to shatter it all.
At Christmas time I had all my handmade shape cookies spread on the counters and table ready for decorating. I went up to read the boys their bedtime story and when I got back, Isaac was lying there looking pregnant while gasping for air. Between eating and breaking, I was out 500 cookies.
Looking back I can honestly say Isaac gave me a great deal of joy. He only graced my life for four years, but I swear everything that sweet dog did, right or wrong, he did with passion. He just loved being alive.
It’s hard to type this because it clouds my eyes. Isaac really did lose his mind. If I put food in his mouth he would eat, if I put a bowl of water to his lips he would drink. When he tried to walk he would step over things that weren’t there, or he would just stand with a blank stare until I coaxed him to lie down. My Isaac had a brain tumor and I finally had to let him go.
I tracked down Dr. Susan Wynn to help me as she had with Jenny. Since then she’d changed practices, gone into holistic medicine, and founded the Georgia Holistic Medical Veterinary Association. Dr. Susan told me I was very strong to be able to do this. I said I wasn’t strong at all. I couldn’t bear to see a loved one suffer so much when they were going to die anyway. I felt selfish keeping him here.
As before, we laid my dog across my lap, but this time I asked Dr. Susan to come back in ten minutes. I don’t think Isaac had any idea what was going on, because I don’t believe he was even in his body anymore. And the oddest, most wonderful thing happened in our few minutes alone.
I saw Isaac. In my mind there was a vivid movie going on. As I held his lifeless body across my lap, my beautiful Golden Retriever companion was standing there smiling and wagging his tail. As he looked at me, it was as if he were standing with a soft, nearly shear cloud of white around him. And then, my sweet dog just turned around and pranced off like he was on his way to a new adventure. I guess I won’t know for quite some time whether it was what I wanted to see or if it was a picture Isaac was showing me. If you were to ask me, "Do dogs go to heaven?" I'd have to answer you, "Definitely, yes."
A few months after Isaac’s passing, a golfer stopped my son to ask about our crazy cart riding, ball stealing dog. Kyle was sure the guy was going to say something rude since not everyone appreciated Isaac's antics. Kyle just looked the man in the eye and said, “Isaac died”.
“I’m sorry,” said the man as his eyes began to water. “Golfing will never be the same without him.”
~ ~ ~
Have you ever had the experience of seeing ghosts or spirits? I wrote about it once more at Seeing Ghosts and Ghost Pets. There you can share your own experiences if you so choose. ~Andrea
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