In Loving Memory of Our Goldens
that have passed onto Rainbow Bridge

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Reminded of Lessons
by Michelle Doell ~ September 13, 2016

My heart is heavy tonight. This morning we said goodbye to Rhett aka Big Dog.

You know God puts people and in this case animals in your life when you need them. That was the case with Rhett and his brother Ruffie. I needed to be reminded of some of the lessons I learned as a child...

Forgiveness


Ruffie and Rhett had been severely abused. Ruffie had a broken tail that was never fixed. Despite being treated horribly by people, Ruffie was the sweetest, happiest dog. He loved nothing more than being with people. He reminded me to forgive. Life is too short! so be happy!

Ruffie and Rhett

Patience

Rhett handled his abuse differently. He was a little more cautious. He would often go into our sunroom and stay by himself. I would be lying if I didn't say there were many times I wanted to yell at him out of frustration to stay in the room with us, but I didn't. I knew he would one day want to be with the family. It took a while but he soon learned that he didn't like being a room without one of us and started hanging out with the family. It was worth the wait. He blossomed into a goofy, happy Big Dog. A simple reminder that even in this fast paced world, you sometimes have to wait for want you want. It some how makes the reward sweeter.

Stop and Smell the Roses


Often in this fast pace world with email, text messages and constant demands it's hard to stop for a second. Every day, Rhett made me do just that. He loved to sit outside. So every morning, we would take our coffee outside to have "coffee time." It's time for us to stop and enjoy the world around us. After years of working in TV, I had trouble turning off work. This morning cup of coffee outside with Rhett made me do just that. I am a better person for it. Let's face it I am a better person because of those two goldens that wiggled into my heart and changed my life forever.

We will miss you Rhett.

Thank you for making me a better person.


Farewell, My Lovely
by David Evans ~ Jun 11, 2013

This morning a little before noon, he went gently from the ledge, dear…

As I sit here wondering how I can talk about my “best boy” Hankie without being overly sentimental, I can’t help but cry knowing that my companion who was pushing fourteen is no longer with us. He showed us he still had a voice just a few days ago when he barked as I was brushing him. The other dogs were in the yard letting the occupants of the car going up our rural road know they had been spotted. Hankie was simply letting everyone also know he was still alive and able to sing in the choir.

Several years back I read Calvin Trillin’s About Alice, his wonderful tribute to his wife. At my ripe old age, I am familiar with Death and how it can steal in to take those we love, sometimes right before us without our knowing what is going on. Alice was Trillin’s wife who died in 2001 awaiting a heart transplant after a battle with lung cancer 25 years earlier had left her heart weakened by radiation.

In his tribute, Trillin does not memorialize his own grief, but returns Alice to the world before he met her and then how he got to know her. Although some might think it wrong to try to write what my dog meant to me in any way similar to how Trillin felt for his wife, all I can say is that I deeply loved this dog who taught me reverence and humility amongst other things.

As he stretched out on the floor this past weekend in apparent peace despite occasional vomiting, I got down close to him and thanked him for being such a good and loyal pal. I asked his forgiveness for those moments when I was impatient with him and didn’t show him the same kind of respect he always showed me. I was reminded of the picture frame we have with the caption “Live like the man your dog thinks you are.”

Just a few days earlier Dr. Ward, a vet we were consulting for a second opinion, told us the sad but not unexpected news that his abdomen was full of lymphoma tumors that could not be treated. His recently diagnosed renal failure was a secondary ailment to the main player causing such destruction inside him. His spleen and liver also had masses in them that would soon take him. We brought him home and basked in his presence for the weekend before we took him to Tina, our local vet, today in a heavy downpour. We had wanted to be outside in the full brightness of the sun which he loved. Instead, we got inside the rear of the Highlander with him under the clinic’s carport, his head resting in my lap as my wife Jody gently caressed him, repeatedly telling him what a treasure he had been. He left us quickly and without a whimper, courageous to the end. I will be grateful to have such a sendoff.

I could go on to tell you of his final days, but would prefer to speak of when he entered our lives some eleven years ago, a two-year old that his original caretakers no longer wanted since they had a new baby in the house. I had read about adopting adult dogs and was ready to have a new companion, since I had buried Bobbie, my ancient Old English Sheepdog, in the backyard several years earlier. I had been graced with more than a few dogs in my life so I thought it best this time around to try to better match my personality with my new pooch. Border Collies were definitely not on the list, since I figured I didn’t want a dog who was smarter (by a long shot) than I am. I had shared my life with Beagles on more than one occasion so they didn’t make the cut either. I had had a couple of bad dustups with a Husky and a German Shepherd in my childhood so I decided against them, too. I’m sure Poodles are also fine dogs, but just not what I was looking for. Finally, I realized that the dog for me was a Golden Retriever.

Jody, who was still working in the “city” then and only visiting our mountain home on weekends, took it upon herself to give me that final push to follow through with Carol, who ran a rescue and sanctuary for Goldies about sixty-five miles from us. After filling out her paperwork designed to protect the dog from ending up in the wrong kind of home, she gave me a list of a few candidates she had that might be ideal for me. It was kind of a canine/human E-Harmony service. Jody insisted on paying the fee and before we knew it, we had Hank in the back seat and were heading home. The boy only weighed in at about sixty-five pounds and was boundless in his energy. When we pulled up the driveway, he was looking everywhere and seemed to be especially happy since he could see no fences! Carol had given me an old rag-tag harness and I tried to take him for a walk as soon as he leaped out of the car. But it was no walk. Rather, he pulled me along behind him as he galloped across our meadow, luxuriating in his new setting. Later that evening, he jumped up against the kitchen counter and grabbed an entire chicken carcass and raced to a corner with it. I was beginning to wonder if we had made the right choice.

Soon afterward, Hank was enrolled in the “Love on a Leash” agility and obedience school just outside Harrisonburg, Virginia, about an hour’s drive from us. Actually, let me rephrase that. I was the one enrolled in the obedience class that Shelley, a German Shepherd champion, conducted. In the course of eight weeks, we missed three or four classes for a variety of reasons, but essentially due to Hank’s discomfort with organized education. There were about a dozen of us in the class which had the full range of breeds, including some little Terriers who disrupted each and every class with their non-stop yapping. Hank was definitely not happy there and usually curled up in the seat beside me totally exhausted when we got in the car and headed home. In the end Shelley gave us a “sympathy diploma” to at least recognize that we had tried.

Over the years, Hank seemed to remain a perpetual child or pre-adolescent at best. He never lost his appetite for stuffed animals–the eyes and noses always were torn off first–or shoes left out and in need of a good chewing. Gentle as he was, though, he had no love for squirrels or possums. Although possums were easier to catch, he did have a few squirrel notches on the handle of his canine six-shooter.

As time went by, we decided he needed a companion so we went back to Carol who suggested Abbie whose original owners had split up and dumped her and her brother Morgan off at the sanctuary. Abbie was a ball of fire when I first went to meet her. Out of the kennel she bounded with such energy that she seemed a good complement to Hank who was far more laid back. When Abbie jumped out of the car when we got home, she immediately raced up to Hank and grabbed him by the ears. Gentleman that he was, Hank endured this treatment up to his final days.

Over the years we also had Bertie come to live with us and join the pack. She was an old gal who carried too much weight and proved to be Abbie’s match, especially when they got into a tug of war over an old towel. Abbie eventually showed some sense and dropped her end of the towel in favor of going back to grabbing Hankie by the ears. We had originally only intended to foster Bertie for a short time until someone adopted her. But that “short time” turned out to be over five years because no one was ever going to adopt this lovable but arthritic and overweight animal when they could have a cuddly puppy or energetic adolescent. And then one day we realized she had a waist line and was losing weight at an alarming rate. She’s buried out in our pet cemetery in the back along with Bobbie, and our kitties Pandy Pandora, Frisky, the cat about town, and Zoe, the reincarnation of Cleopatra.

A couple of years back, we adopted Milo, a mixed breed who needed a home, since Carol’s campsite was getting overly crowded. With no money to spare on animal care, county governments in our neck of the woods don’t have funds for shelters so strays and waifs stand little to no chance of survival. Carol’s big heart filled her pens in no time. So Milo came into our world and was accepted by our residents as a new member of the tribe. In no time, he and Abbie became the best of pals, with Hankie rising to senior statesman status, away from the fray but still watching over his domain, lying in his own way with his front paws crossed.

As the years slipped by, Hankie slowed down a bit but was always anxious for his morning “walkie” and would bark incessantly if I didn’t get my boots on fast enough to his satisfaction. And then one day last summer, we had one of the most ferocious adventures of our lives here. A rabid fox was in the yard and the dogs were on the chase before I realized what was happening. The long and the short of it was that the fox charged Hankie and knocked the wobbly old boy down. To the immediate rescue came Milo who mauled the fox before I was able to destroy it. Abbie stayed on the sidelines watching the mayhem from some distance but urging the boys on. She had also wisely stayed in the background a year or so earlier when we surprised a black bear in the back yard one spring morning. Hankie was full of testosterone then and barking defiantly at the bear which just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge and return to the woods.

After the exciting fox fight, the boys had to visit the vet who gave them booster shots. When I got them home I could swear they had a certain swagger as they trotted around the yard bragging about their bravado and showing off their war wounds. It was as though they were Musketeers who had just outfought the Cardinal’s men and escaped capture!

In another life, I suspect Hankie was a Nascar crew chief, since he loved cars and would sulk if you drove off without him. I once transported a groundhog that Jody had captured in a live trap in her garden. Hank was beside himself that this creature should get to ride in “his” car without him being there as prison escort. We still have this 1995 Amigo where Hank always insisted on riding shotgun in the passenger seat. A few years after Jody and I were married and had just gotten Hank, she feared she would always have to sit in the back since Hank was enthroned in the front. We also have a picture of him in the trunk of my friend Paul’s car when he and his late wife Donna came to visit. Out came the suitcases and in jumped Hank! He also enjoyed trucks and never missed a chance to stretch out in the bed.

Hankie also had a history of bad luck incidents that were scary at first but somewhat amusing afterward. Our vet took a picture of him before she sedated him enough to relax his jaw so she could get an osso bucco bone off of his lower jaw. We had a habit of filling these round shank bones that have a hole in the middle with canned dog food and then freezing them. The dogs looked forward to their “frozen dogsicles” as a treat after their dinner. Somehow or other, though, Hank once managed to get his looped over his jaw and was frantically stuck.

Another time, he woke us in the middle of the night with a scare since we thought he was having a stroke. Turned out he was having a “vestibular incident,” a canine equivalent of an attack of vertigo. Since it was two-o’clock in the morning we hesitated to call and wake our vet. Then Jody put in a Skype call to our daughter-in-law Corin in Australia. Luckily for us and Hank, Corin is an experienced vet. After asking a few questions and then looking at his face over the computer screen, she promptly diagnosed what had happened to him from over 10,000 miles away. Although it took him a while to pretty much fully recover, he earned the distinction of giving long-distance care a new meaning.

In recent months, Hankie has been slowly losing his appetite and gradually becoming leaner. But that’s enough of these kinds of details and there’s no need to drag out the story, since we already know how it ends. As Verlyn Klinkenborg said in the New York Times a few years back about the passing of his dog Darcy:

“It comes down, in the end, to the pleasure she shows, the interest she takes in the world around her — and not to anything her humans feel. She has not had the life she might once have expected — a far better one instead. My job is to make sure she gets the death she deserves — in her human’s arms.

“And so she has. She died quietly last Friday while I sat on the floor beside her at the vet’s. The world is a poorer place without her.”

We now grieve for Hankie, as do all his pals. His ashes will be buried next to Bertie and Bobbie, Pandora, Frisky and the regal Zoe, near to where the squirrels still raid the bird feeder. He lit up our lives for over a decade and made us better people. As Will Rogers said, “If dogs don’t go to Heaven, I want to go where they go.”

For me, I’m somewhat content thinking of him when he would bound across the meadow ecstatically doing what dogs do when at play in the fields of the Lord.

Enriching the Earth

To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass
to grow and die. I have plowed in the seeds
of winter grains and of various legumes,
their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth.
I have stirred into the ground the offal
and the decay of the growth of past seasons
and so mended the earth and made its yield increase.
All this serves the dark. I am slowly falling
Into the fund of things. And yet to serve the earth,
not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness
and a delight to the air, and my days
do not wholly pass. It is the mind’s service,
for when the will fails so do the hands
and one lives at the expense of life.
After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.

–Wendell Berry


David Evans
Article by David Evans, who's retired from another life and lives in the mountains of West Virginia with his muse Jody along with three big dogs and a pride of 4 cats and other critters who come along the path from time to time. David is the author of the recently published collection of essays entitled Cradle My Soul: Glimpses Into Other Lives. Earlier, he published Unscheduled Stops: Essays on Love, Loss and Other Roadside Attractions. Both are available on either Amazon or Create Space, a subsidiary of Amazon. All proceeds are going to the Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary in Capon Bridge, West Virginia.

Room in your Heart

Sorrow fills a barren space;
you close your eyes and see my face
and think of times I made you laugh,
the love we shared, the bond we had,
the special way I needed you -
the friendship shared by just we two.

The day's too quiet, the world seems older,
the wind blows now a little colder.
You gaze into the empty air
and look for me, but I'm not there -
I'm in heaven and I watch you,
and I see the world around you too.

I see little souls wearing fur,
souls who bark and souls who purr
born unwanted and unloved -
I see all this and more above -
I watch them suffer, I see them cry,
I see them lost, I watch them die.

I see unwanted thousands born -
and when they die, nobody mourns.
These little souls wearing fur
(Some who bark and some who purr)
are castaways who - unlike me -
will never know love or security.

A few short months they starve and roam,
Or caged in shelters - nobody takes home.
They're special too (furballs of pleasure),
filled with love and each one, a treasure.
My pain and suffering came to an end,
so don't cry for me, my person, my friend.

But think of the living - those souls with fur
(some who bark and some who purr) -
And though our bond can't be broken apart,
make room for another in your home and your heart.

~ by Caro Schubert-James


Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives

~ John Galsworthy (1867-1933)



The following poem is dedicated to Carol Free and Rescuers like her that make it all possible....

Unlike most days at the Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined.

All of the recent arrivals had no idea what to think, as they had never experienced a day like this before.

But the animals who had been waiting for their beloved people know exactly what was going on and started to gather at the pathway leading to The Bridge to watch.

It wasn't long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung low and tail dragging.

The other animals, the ones who had been there for a while, knew what his story was right away, for they had seen this happen far too often.

He approached slowly, obviously in great emotional pain, but with no sign of injury or illness.

Unlike all of the other animals waiting at The Bridge, this animal had not been restored to youth and made healthy and vigorous again.

As he walked toward The Bridge, he watched all of the other animals watching him.

He knew he was out of place here and the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be.

But, alas, as he approached The Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who apologized, but told him that he would not be able to pass.

Only those animals who were with their people could pass over Rainbow Bridge.

With no place else to turn, the elderly animal turned towards the fields before The Bridge and saw a group of other animals like himself, also elderly and infirm.

They weren't playing, but rather simply lying on the green grass, forlornly staring out at the pathway leading to The Bridge.

And so, he took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting.

One of the newest arrivals at The Bridge didn't understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the animals that had been there for a while to explain it to him.

"You see, that poor animal was a rescue. He was turned in to the rescue just as you see him now, an older animal with his fur graying and his eyes clouding.

He never made it out of the rescue and passed on with only the love of his rescuer to comfort him as he left his earthly existence.

Because he had no family to give his love to, he has no one to escort him across The Bridge."

The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what will happen now?"

As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the gloom lifted.

Approaching The Bridge could be seen a single person and among the older animals, a whole group was suddenly bathed in a golden light and they were all young and healthy again, just as they were in the prime of life.

"Watch, and see," said the second animal.

A second group of animals from those waiting came to the pathway and bowed low as the person neared. At each bowed head, the person offered a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears.

The newly restored animals fell into line and followed her towards The Bridge. They all crossed The Bridge together.

"What happened?"

"That was a rescuer. The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of her work. They will cross when their new families arrive.

Those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are allowed to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor animals that they couldn't place on earth across The Rainbow Bridge."

~Anonymous~


Continue to page 2 of our Goldens' Memorial

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Updated: September 2014






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