We were walking to the car when Josie had her first major seizure. At first I thought she was choking so I called for help while stupidly trying to pry her mouth open. Then I realized what was happening. She seized for over two minutes, which is a really long time and an eternity if you’re watching.
I was in Texas at a trade show when we got Josie. My nine-year-old called, super excited. “Daddy’s taking us to look at Golden Retriever puppies!” Uh, what? Are you kidding me? Who takes little girls to just look at Golden Retriever PUPPIES without going home with one?
I was furious with my husband but I knew his plan. Our 15-year-old Golden had died three months earlier and he wanted our girls to have another good friend. Nine and ten seemed like the perfect age for the them to get a dog….but I wasn’t ready.
Lucy was the kindest, gentlest dog I’d ever had. She was a large Golden Retriever who carried her leash when we’d run. She’d let little kids climb on her and she was the most trustworthy soul, but she was four when our first daughter was born. By the time they were old enough to appreciate her, she had turned into an old, calm companion. She was perfect for aging adults, but not so able to keep up with our active, energized girls who wanted to bring her to the park or run her around the neighborhood. She died after living a long, good life — yet, I was devastated. I cried as hard as when my mother died and I felt the same way.
“How will I go on without her?”
Our house felt empty. We had two adorable cats — we still have these big boys (God help me when Pete dies). But the energy in our home was different. A month after Lucy’s death, Russ suggested getting another dog. “No!” I replied. Absolutely no way could I imagine giving my heart to another animal. He kept saying, “This will be our last dog. The girls will be in college or older when this one dies and we’ll be ready to live without the burden of having a dog. The timing is perfect.” But I just wasn’t interested.
Soon the girls were asking about getting another dog so when I got the call about “looking at Golden Retriever puppies” I wasn’t completely surprised. Josie came home the day I returned from Texas. It was a Sunday evening and my ten year old came out of the garage holding the cutest ball of fluffy fur. “She got a little sick on the car ride home,” said my youngest and we watched as this sweet puppy toddled around the yard, sniffing and searching.
“You’re responsible for her,” I said to my girls. “Oh, we’ll take good care of her mom”… and for the most part, they did. Except for the middle of the night wake-up calls. Russell is a sound sleeper and it seemed I was the only one who could hear this new puppy crying from her crate at 2:00am.
I had a set of rules for this little dog and I laid them out for her during those early hours. First, no peeing in the house. I had no desire to go through potty training, yet, I was the only one to clean up after her. Second, no chewing stuff. She was crated and observed while inside but slowly, a corner of our porch seemed to disappear each day she was alone in the yard. Finally, no attaching yourself to my heart. I was not going to fall in love with her and I insisted on staying neutral. Needless to say, she foiled all my plans.
Josie was rarely left alone. She stayed home with our girls on school holidays and we felt a little more secure leaving our ‘tweens alone when Josie was there with them. The three of them became very attached and we have countless photos of the girls dressing her up and rolling on the floor with her. Josie was a regal girl and she stayed calm and composed through all of it. She was a smiling dog and when she was with our girls, her smile never ceased.
On other days, Josie came to work with Russell and me. She’d sit in the front of our store, welcoming shoppers and keeping the suspicious types at bay.
When we moved to our new showroom, she seemed disappointed there weren’t as many people to greet but she’d say hello to every tenant and made great friends with our UPS and FedEx delivery men. She’d run down the hall from the elevator and be the first at the door when we’d arrive at the office. She’d grab her toy at the end of the day and bring it to me, signaling it was time to move. I’d throw it down the center of the showroom and she’d chase it, just to bring it back to me and lead me to the door so we’d head home.
Once in the car, I’d roll down the back window so she could greet everyone we’d pass. Kids would bark at her and she’d smile. Every stop light was a chance for her to say hello to commuters, street people and drivers in other cars. I still check my rear mirror and fall apart when I see the empty seat behind me.
Josie died quickly after that first seizure and although we didn’t know for sure, our vet suspected a brain tumor. In hindsight, she whined a lot near the end but she lived a happy life up to the week before she died. Our youngest heads off to college this fall and Russell and I will be able to move freely without the heavy burden of finding a dog sitter. I am again saying “no” to any thought of getting another dog, but our house and our office just aren’t the same.
Last week I kicked something under my desk and found Josie’s toy. I saw her smiling face and expectant glance willing me to pick it up and throw it to her. I miss her and tell myself to be grateful it was our dog that died and not a child or human friend but I still can’t get past it.
Josie was a huge part of our family and her loving spirit is dearly missed.
Russell’s plan of making Josie our last dog has gone awry…
he mentioned maybe adopting an older dog.
He misses her as much as the rest of us.
“No!” I say, but I wonder if there’s any harm in just looking?
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer