I want my blog to be about things that are fun and related to vintage…However, life isn't always fun and sometimes one needs to share feelings of grief and loss. I'm feeling particularly sad this week, so here goes.
This year Lucky, a big, sweet, beautiful Golden Retriever turned 15 years old…that's 120 years old in dog years (if dog years = eight years to every human year). But he was already old when I met him. For seven years I would walk by his house on my way home from work, and if he were laying on the front porch, I would walk up and put my hand out for him to sniff and then scratch his head and get a lick or two from him on my hand. Occasionally, he would get up, lick my hand and then offer me his big, furry paw which I would always accept. Whatever crappy day I'd had at work, or whatever stress I was still carrying around from the day, would melt even before I got the lick, when I would see his tail start wagging. If he was too tired to lift his head and body off of the porch to greet me, he would still wag his tail and it would pat up and down on the cement behind him while I stroked and scratched his head.
Every day when I walked by his house I'd check to see if he were laying in his usual spot, even though it had been a while since I last saw him. It was a habit. I needed my Lucky the dog fix. On Wednesday of last week I passed by his house and glanced over to the area that I always check. Again, no big furry dog. However, I couldn't breathe for a second, and my eyes teared up when I saw a bouquet of flowers and a familiar red dog collar with a bone shaped name tag encircling the bottom of the vase. A piece of paper was taped to the vase:
My neighborhood dog buddy had passed away that very day. It was such a sad moment seeing that, but I LOVE that the neighbors left this loving tribute to Lucky on their front porch. I am so grateful to them, because I got to say good-bye and feel my own grief and loss. I know other neighbors loved Lucky too, and so they also got to say their good-byes. Later on I went and got a bouquet of flowers and a sympathy card and hand delivered them to my canine friend's human parents. I thanked them for sharing Lucky with all of us neighbors and told them how he just made my day happy whenever I got to see him and pet him. I told them I was very sorry for their loss and we all cried together for a moment or two. It was all extremely sad, but so healing at the same time.
It's the lonely, empty red dog collar that breaks my heart in the photos I've posted here. A poignant reminder of who is missing. Even writing this right now, I'm all choked up after looking at them. He wasn't even my dog, for goodness sake. But his licks, paw/handshakes and tail wags left a mark on my heart that won't soon be forgotten.
I'm not sad for Lucky. He had an awesome life, and now he's chasing balls, cats and squirrels in doggy heaven with none of the pain of old age. I'm sad for his family. I'm sad for the other neighbors who also loved Lucky and I don't even know them. I'm sad for me, because I lost such a sweet friend. He never complained. He just gave out love as needed. I got to give love to him as well as take love from him, so I guess it was a two-way street. But still.
He was loved by his family and all the neighbors. In fact, the bouquets of flowers increased over the next few days. The day after I visited his parents, there were two bouquets along with a lovely black and white photo featuring him laying on that very porch. His porch. I was happy to see that four days later there were four bouquets of flowers there.
It's been one week, and my heart still hurts when I walk by and see that empty porch. I know that the sadness will lift as time passes. I almost don't want it to because I don't want to forget my awesome furry neighbor. Maybe I will remember him, but forget how sad I am now.
I haven't lost a pet in many years, but I dread the day when one of my cats dies. My husband told a friend about Lucky's passing and how this sadness is why we hesitate to get a dog. His friend replied, "You have to remember all the wonderful times spent with your pet and all the joy they brought into your life and see that as greater than the pain felt after losing them". I think that is beautiful, and that's what I plan to do when the time comes.
Rest in peace Lucky. Thank you so much for all the love.