Lessons From a Great Dog - 1010 Park Place
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Lessons From a Great Dog

Photo by Brenda Coffee
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New Year’s Eve, Goldie, my best girlfriend in the world, died. I’m still broken-hearted. Goldie was a great dog! Smart, funny, loving. For months, I’d been preparing myself for that moment. Her back legs were weak and wobbly. She was nearly deaf and had dementia—yes, dogs get dementia—but in her final hour, she somehow found the will to summon her zest for life.

I PULLED OVER, ROLLED DOWN THE WINDOW AND SAT THERE, LETTING HER TAKE IT IN, ONE LAST TIME. AS I WATCHED HER, I PUT ON THE BRIGHT RED LIPSTICK I’D HURRIEDLY PUT IN MY PURSE.

Fifteen years ago, Goldie showed up at our door in the city. From the moment we saw her, we knew someone was grieving her absence, missing her nurturing nature and engaging personality. A Shepherd-Collie mix, Goldie was a big girl, hardly a lap dog, and yet, that’s where she wanted to be. With no collar and no microchip to guide us, we placed ads and circulated “Found” notices, but when no one responded, she became our Goldie Girl.

After we moved to the ranch, there was always something to be done. James cut down the cedar trees and trimmed the skirts on the oaks. We restored the 100-year-old “Little House,” planted new trees and shrubs and built a stone patio and a winding walk. Through it all, Goldie had to know where every member of her family was, at all times. This photo of her never fails to make me smile. How dare we cut her out of the action! It was taken seconds after she’d slit the new screen around our back porch so she could get a better view as we set the stones, without her.

That last afternoon, Goldie got sick to her stomach, then fell over, stiff, legs outstretched. She may have had a stroke. I’ll never forget the look of terror in her eyes. Not wanting to frighten her even further, I leaned down close to her ear and spoke softly, telling her everything would be okay, but I knew it was time… I helped her stand and got her into my car.

As I drove into town to meet the vet, Goldie struggled in the back of the SUV to get to her feet. Riding down our twisty ranch road was one of her favorite things. She loved looking for elk, Texas Longhorns, black buck antelope, goats, white-tailed deer and the wild turkeys that sometimes strut along the fenceline. As we rounded the bend, the donkeys and the goats she loved to bark at were by the fence. She had to have known her time was near, and yet, while she didn’t have the energy to bark, there she was; summoning the strength to embrace that which she loved. I pulled over, rolled down the window and sat there, letting her take it in, one last time. As I watched her, I put on the bright red lipstick I’d hurriedly put in my purse.

Before the vet administered the final drug, I placed three, bright red kisses across her nose, so God would know how loved and special she was. Even in her final hour, Goldie taught me about spirit, strength and dignity and the meaning of seizing every moment.

And so, in this new year, what if we take a lesson from this great dog? All of us have had our dark moments. We know they’re not easy, but Goldie reminded me that it’s possible to draw strength by focusing on something other than the darkness; something that reminds us of the good things we hold dear. Perhaps it’s thoughts of loved ones, a great day we experienced, or maybe it’s something as simple as asking God for help.

Love, Brenda

18 Comments

  • Elizabeth January 17, 2015 at 8:16 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Goldie sounds like a wonderful dog with a wonderful life she lived to the fullest, with your love.

    • 1010 Park Place January 18, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your note. I appreciate it. Goldie and I were definitely a team and had a sixth sense about one another’s needs; when the other was sad or needed a hug. She gave me as much love as I did to her, and that was a lot.
      XOXOXO,
      Brenda

  • Andrea January 17, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Beautiful story. I’ve recently become a dog lover. Your close whispering to her was such a simple but loving act of kindness.

    • 1010 Park Place January 18, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Andrea,
      Then you know how endearing and loyal dogs are. If you think about it, love and kindness is all any of us have to give one another.
      XOXOXO,
      Brenda

  • Eugenia Russell Hargrove January 17, 2015 at 9:28 am

    I am sorry for your loss! Thank you for sharing a well written love story about your Goldie Girl.

    • 1010 Park Place January 18, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Thank you:) She was a great dog, to the end.

  • Mamavalveeta03 January 17, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Brenda, this was beautiful. What a dog! Thank you for sharing, and blessings to you.

    • 1010 Park Place January 18, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks Val. It’s still difficult. Sam and Molly are grieving her loss as well. So sad. xoxoxo, Brenda

  • Rena March 25, 2015 at 8:56 am

    What a beautiful tribute. I loved the picture, it made me smile as well.

    • 1010 Park Place April 5, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      Thank you, very much! I love this photo, too! She was so proud of having just split my screened in porch. She is missed.

    • 1010 Park Place April 12, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      I especially love this picture because it captures Goldie’s enthusiasm for just about everything. She is loved and so missed.
      Thank you:)

  • Rebecca Forstadt-Olkowski March 25, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    What a sweet looking and wonderful dog. My heart breaks for you. Dogs are so special!

    • 1010 Park Place April 12, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Thank you for your comment. She was a great dog. The smartest, most full of herself, loving dog I’ve ever known. I miss her. xoxo

  • Guest April 5, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you! I appreciate your note. She was a great dog. The smartest, most full of herself, loving dog I’ve ever known. I miss her. xoxo

  • Barbara Hammond June 29, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I love this, Brenda. Such a beautiful dog and you can see how sweet she is. It’s the hardest thing we ever have to do, but somehow I wish we were able to be this humane to our loved ones when their time comes, too.
    b

    • 1010 Park Place July 10, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      Thank you Barbara. She will always be missed. You’re right: if we could only be this humane with our loved ones when their time comes. My mother has dementia. If it were in my power, I would blink my eyes and this would be over. Dementia’s such a demeaning and heartbreaking disease.

  • Laura Ann Klein June 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    I love this picture and Goldie’s story. She was a Zen dog because she spent her time “working” with the pack.

    • 1010 Park Place July 10, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Laura Ann,
      I always wanted Goldie to have her own herd of sheep. She would have been great at keeping track of all of them and keeping them all together. She would have loved it. A Zen dog! I like that.
      Thanks for your comment.
      Brenda

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