Thursday, September 10, 2009

See you on the other side

Thirteen years is a long time for a golden retriever to live. I have been blessed to have shared the last thirteen years of my life with Lexi, our sweet golden. She and I have been through a lot over the years. It was fate that brought us together. I had been watching the newspaper ads in my small town for a golden retriever puppy and one summer day I was delighted to see such an ad. Golden puppies for sale. We wanted a female. I called on the ad and was told they had one but she was on her way to meet with a very interested buyer out of town. The woman sensed my disappointment and told me I could leave my name and number if perchance it didn't work out. Thank you Fate - the next day I got the call - he didn't want her! So we headed out to meet the pups. We were greeted by several puppies - happy, playful, healthy golden retriever puppies! There was one roly-poly little guy (ok not so little) who had happily dug himself a cozy bed in the dirt. He was so adorable - lazy and definitely laid back. We couldn't help not showing him some love. But when we met the friendly little gal we knew she belonged in our family. She had the sweetest big, trusting eyes. She was calm but not timid. Oh what a great day that was - we were all so excited to have a new addition to our family. After careful instructions from the breeders we took her home.

Lexi was a quick learner and house training was a piece of cake! I walked her several times a day, teaching her how to heel, walk on a leash, and to sit next to me when a car approached. She was calm and eager to learn. We always walked to a nearby creek so she could play in the water. She LOVED the water! She did the funniest things on those walks. True to her breed, she was a good swimmer and loved to fetch. At the creek I would throw a stick for her to retrieve and oftentimes the stick would float a down the creek. She wouldn't see it floating away so she'd thrust her head into the creek and pull out any old slimy stick she could get her teeth on. It was hilarious! She would proudly bring the water-soaked, soggy stick to me - I'm sure she was oblivious to the fact it wasn't the same one. Good girl Lex!

She was patient and gentle with the kids. They would play together or just chill out in the family room. She did have a bad habit of stealing from them though. Sweet things in the hands of young kids are just easy targets to a watchful dog. Granola bars, toast, and candy were all fair game in her eyes. So were the stuffed Beanie Baby toys. She would carry them around, wagging her tail, looking up at us with those big eyes, then oh so carefully place them down. Her mothering instincts would sure kick in with those Beanie Babies. Christmas, sledding, laying on the sofa, following me around the house (everywhere), going for walks, going for drives, sleeping on the bed, chasing balls, romping, playing with the cat, swimming in the river, lake or her blue kiddie pool in the backyard and then shaking the water off onto ME, rolling in the snow or dewy grass, playing with her BFF and pup Ellie - Lexi did all of these things with pure joy.

During one recent evening as we sat in the living room watching tv and relaxing, with Lexi sleeping in front of the couch , the beginning of her end started. She began shaking violently, and was unresponsive. We knew immediately it was a seizure. I called our good friend who is also our vet, Marvin, and he came right over. She had four more consecutive seizures. Marv and Tim took her to the vet clinic and Marv gave her meds to relax her body. She quieted down for about and hour. Back home we made a bed out of an old down comforter for her to rest on. I laid down on the floor next to her. It was so scary. She didn't rest for long, she began to waken from the valium and wouldn't stay down. But she couldn't really walk - she was weak, confused and somewhat blinded. She crawled into the kitchen and we carried her back to her makeshift bed. Realizing she wasn't going to rest alone, I laid on the couch with my hand on her and tried to keep her quiet. At some point very early in the morning, she wanted water and after quenching her thirst she wanted to go outside. So out we went. I stayed close to her and helped her back inside when she was done. Throughout the night she would stand and sniff me as if to make sure I was me, then lick me happily like she had missed me or maybe to tell me it was going to be ok. I just stroked her fur and talked quietly to her.

The next morning, after a couple hours of sleep I looked down at her - she looked like her old self. Peaceful. She heard me stir and glanced back at me. Immediately she stood up, so I thought she needed to go out again. Wrong - she started into another seizure. I laid her down and woke Tim. We administered a dose of meds that Marvin had given us. It barely slowed the seizure down. Within minutes she started having another... I called Marv and once again he came right over. We cried, stroked her, spoke to her, reassured Lexi that it would all be fine and she wouldn't be in pain anymore. Within a few minutes she was gone, the violent shaking over, her body calm, she looked peaceful. Our family isn't the same. Her pup, Ellie, is sad and mopey too. I find peace knowing she had a great life and hope we made her as happy as she did us. Her kiddie pool is now empty, Ellie doesn't find joy in water like Lexi did. Her collar and tag now sit on the coffee table. We are comforted with all the great memories we have and the tons of pictures we have. We'll see you on the other side Miss Lexi.

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