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
8 thoughts on “Saying “Goodbye” Is Hard”
Ohmygosh what a heartfelt and thoughtful tribute to a wonderful canine and friend of mine, but BFF to our dog Caesar.
We don’t look at Caesar the same since Josie’s passing. He was the troublesome one. The one with health issues and always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Josie seemed superior to Caesar, and he treated Josie with that same respect.
Every day since Josie passed is a gift for us to have Caesar still with us. They were, after all, nearly the identical age.
Caesar misses her as well, it’s become apparent that he “knows” because for the last 2 weeks he’s insisted on dragging us down the alley only to stop at Josie’s gate and sniff for her. But she never appears.
Caesar walks away with his head down not understanding. But then again, maybe they DO understand. And just maybe they understand even more than we do.
Jack, Allyson & Caesar
So sweet Jack and Allyson. Thank you! Josie loved Ceasar. They were pals and I’m sad for him too! Next time he runs to the gate, let him in. We’d love to give him (and you guys) a hug!
What a beautiful tribute to your dog! I too used to work at home with my dog by my side and after 14 years with me she too is missed. They add a special touch to your home and work place, I know.
I want to send our condolences on your beautiful Josie. So nice to hear her story! Take care, Sally at Lehan Drugs
Thank you so much for sharing your story about this wonderful family member.
I know she knew how much she was loved by all of you. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Just know she will always be around. OXOX
That is a beautiful tribute, Germaine. Josie’s love for everyone was so unconditional. And she always was smiling. Very moving.
Germaine – Beautiful tribute to a beautiful dog! Thanks for sharing. It’s so difficult to lose a pet that’s become part of your family. My heart goes out to you, your girls and Russell. xo
Saying goodbye is one of the hardest things ever to do. What a beautiful tribute. Germaine, I know you and I talked about our cats a while back… Our sweet Rocky passed away on November 20, 2015. The hardest day of my life, I think.. Since then we have adopted 4 new babies. One of which became quite ill and he too passed away. Just such a short time after our beloved Rocky made his way to the Rainbow Bridge. The pain was unbelievable for me.
Those furry kids just take such a huge chunk of our hearts with them when they leave. But…. I would not have it any other way. Our home will never be furless, they need us and we need them.
I am so sorry for the loss of your Josie, keep the memories close and that furbaby will stay with you forever!