My girl Charlee is my best freind.She and I go together like comfortable shoes. Not the slipper kind mind you, Charlee is more like the kind of shoe you wear on adventure hikes.
In my line of work, I hear a lot of sad stories of loss. People get new puppies and share with me tales of their dogs. Often times, my clients bring me to tears. There was even the time that I was in the home of a brand spanking new puppy, and I was corralled into watching the tribute video of their dead dog. I can't even think of it and not cry. What a labor of love that was.
My Dad has a scrapbook he put together when my childhood Golden Ginger died. I can't even look at the cover. I did the same for my dog Dina.
The thing that I have come away with after seeing and hearing first hand so much loss is that yes we love the dogs, of course.
The knowledge I learned from Charlee about training and managing a reactive dog was priceless.
Charlee embarrassed me , and humbled me in public a little more often than I care to admit. With Charlee, I learned many lessons, most importantly the lesson of time, and when to back off. I learned that it was OK to help my dog live her life the best I could, and not one that I had mapped out in my head. With Charlee
We don't know Charlee's actual birthday, but August seemed likely. One of the reasons she landed at my house was that my last two dogs had August 19th birthdays. Dog people often (or always!) give random things meanings and look for "signs." Charlee came to us with "signs" that may or may not have held any water at all. We don't care, never have, never will. Charlee is my comfortable adventure shoe, maybe more my dog than any dog I have ever had. She and I have that special some thing --- that invisible thread that ties us together. I have no idea how it is possible that my wild child turned twelve years old. Time sure seems to move faster as we age.
Charlee and I have traveled a long rocky road. Charlee saw me through the birth of my last kid, a move to Maine, a failing marriage and divorce -- the rearing of my three kids. We all wonder how much time Charlee has left. Her tumor toe has not gotten any worse and her energy level and certainly her appetite (bad dog who steals things bad!) are excellent. If you didn't know she was 12 and didn't see her hair loss and poor coat, you would suspect she was about 6 years old. I have no regrets about not amputating her toes and if she continues to thrive, I will revisit the possibility before winter.
My kids and I have given Charlee a great summer (sans foster dogs which she could have totally done without) , and each and every time I see her joy at the beach or in the woods, I know I made the right choice.
Dogs after all do live in the moment, and her moments strung together have been wonderful.
Happy birthday best friend, and old adventure shoe dog. Thanks for the journey.
Top photo credit Jared Charney