Friday, July 26, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Please forgive me this deviation from typically found topics, but today, I write with a heavy heart. Unfortunately, we have lost one of the family, and as sad as I am to lose him, I can’t stand the thought of dwelling on the loss we feel at home. Instead, I want to share a story, so that not only will his memory live, but the joy he brought to others can be shared and remembered. I will always treasure him as the great dog he has always been from the first day he stole my heart.
Almost eight years ago, Sam and I were talking about getting another dog. We had two Rat Terriers at the time, and Sam really wanted a “fetching” dog. Our female Rat was aging and wasn’t quite herself anymore and we definitely didn’t want to get another dog as a “replacement,” but rather as an addition to the family. I, being an animal obsessed individual, jumped at the opportunity to bring another dog into our home. If it were up to me, we’d have a house full of rescues.

We spent a great deal of time looking at local shelters, thinking we were wanting a Labrador or something along those lines. I remember going to a rescue site in Boulder to visit with a Lab, but she just wasn’t the right fit for us at that moment in time. On my way home from my visit with that dog, I decided to stop by the Longmont Humane Society. We had just visited the shelter a couple of days prior, and I honestly didn’t expect to find the right member for our family that day, but something made me stop. As I walked around the corner, two beautiful brown eyes stared into my soul. I literally gasped as I started talking to this gorgeous Golden Retriever, and I told him I was going to the front to ask to visit with him.
A few moments later, I was walking the dog that would become known to us as Levi around the perimeter of the shelter. I called Sam at work and told him he needed to immediately stop by the shelter because I had found our dog. He came as quickly as he could and admitted right away that he was a great dog – calm, loving, yet ready to go for a walk if we so desired. We couldn’t believe he had found his way to a shelter, and even stranger still that no one had yet to adopt him.

Sam started tossing a ball around, but Levi seemed to have no interest. We chalked it up to him being nervous in the shelter setting, and were absolutely certain this was going to be our fetching dog.

Sam had to return to work, but I spent a little more time with Levi before heading to the front desk at the shelter once more. I told them I was ready to take Levi home, but they informed me that there was already a hold on him. I was heartbroken. I was absolutely convinced this was supposed to be our new family member. “I don’t need to think about it,” I informed the woman at the front. “ I will take him right now.” She smiled, but firmly informed me that the individual who had Levi on hold had two days to decide if she wanted him, so I would have to wait until Sunday morning. It was Friday afternoon and I wasn’t ready to leave him in the shelter – even if only for another day and a half. She took my name and told me I was next in line. I went back to talk to Levi and told him that I would be back for him and that he would be in his forever home very soon.
Friday evening and all of Saturday were a complete waste. All I could do was think about this dog that was supposed to be in our home. I didn’t want to wait, but Sam did his best to keep me calm and told me that we probably wouldn’t be seeing him again. I didn’t want to believe that and continued to hold out hope, but I knew Sam was right. Who could leave this dog behind?

On Sunday morning, Sam called LHS. I didn’t have it in me to hear the words that he had been adopted. I listened anxiously to Sam’s side of the conversation as he spoke to a clerk. “Really?” eventually came out of his mouth. Followed by, “We will be there as soon as you open.” Levi was still there and waiting for us to adopt him. We rushed to the shelter with leash and collar in hand, ready to take Levi home. We had new toys for him and were ready to start life with our new addition. He never did take to fetching (he would get the ball, but then ran away to hold on to it), but we loved him for the beautiful soul he was, not for his interest, or lack thereof, in fetching a ball.
I wish I could detail out all of the wonderful moments we’ve had with Levi. I wish I could explain what an impact he’s made on so many lives – not just ours. When I worked in an office, I used to take him with me and he would roam the halls greeting people (and looking for food handouts). Everybody loved Levi. It was hard not to love a dog that was so sweet and had such a calming presence. Even when he visited people with developmental and physical disabilities, he had the patience of a saint. He’d let them poke him in the eyes as they attempted to pet him, soaking up every moment of attention he could get. Honestly, he gave so much more than he received.
We don’t know the origins of Levi, how old he was when we adopted him, nor how exactly he found his way to us. He was discovered on the streets as a stray, with a microchip completely devoid of any information about his history or original family. His front teeth were worn completely to the gums and he was always afraid of tight, enclosed spaces. He trembled at the sound of thunder until his hearing gave out, but he was always close by, ready to offer comfort to those around him.

Even my brother, who’s not necessarily an animal person, adored Levi. As I said, it was hard not to love him. Over the course of the nearly eight years Levi has been part of our lives, we’ve received multiple offers from others to take him any time we were ready to let him go. Give him up? There was no way that would happen. He was meant to be with us. He was the gentle part of our dysfunctional, motley crew!
As we say goodbye to one of the family, I will remember that Levi brought joy, love, comfort, companionship, fun, and too many memories to count. He may be physically gone from our lives, but will never be forgotten. Even though my heart feels as though it can't go on, I know he will always be a part of us, and he lives on in our minds as our “child” and the best Golden Retriever ever to grace this earth. I will remember him as he was above - able bodied, and enjoying rolling in the grass, swimming in the water, dirtying himself in the mud, and basking in the warmth of the sun... truly, as the best dog ever.

7 comments:

  1. He was the dirtiest, happiest dog I knew. I think i will always fondly remember picking up his poop, and seeing fragments of a yellow yard sprinkler in there. this weekend, I will have a great beer, and toast you, then attempt to eat a yard sprinkler.

    Levi, wherever you are, we will miss you, and always love you.

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  2. Oh, honey. I'm so sorry to hear this. Losing a member of the family is never easy, even when that member has four legs and is covered in fur. My heart is heavy for you and Sam today.

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  3. Oh Gen & Sam, My heart aches for you in this time. It seems so unfair that we have to loose our most innocent and loving companions after such a short time together. Levi sounds like one of the good ones, a keeper and I am glad he had you two to keep him. Much love, Jeanne

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  4. He looks like a real lover. I'm so sorry for your loss. :( They never live as long as we want them to.

    I'm glad he had a good home with you.

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  5. Thank you to all for your kind thoughts and well-wishes. We are slowly learning life without our third furry child, and appreciate all of the lovely sentiments along the way. Levi will definitely be missed.

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  6. wow that´s a beautiful story, i have tears in my eyes, he reminds me so much to my beautiful Zagua, she was a straight dog and live with me for 15 year, we grew up together i was 7 when i saw her, she had got hit by a car and we fell in love right away, I made her better, she was my best friend, my sister my Zagua, i will always love her, thank you so much for sharing this sad but beautiful story. I wish i could send you a picture of my Zagua she looks exactly like the firts photo of your Levi

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