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It was close to 7:30 am when she walked into his room, sitting down in front of him. She looked into his eyes with a combination of love and resolution, as if to say, “Don’t you know, too?” He looked at his adorable black lab and shook his head, thinking, this is a little odd. But the obligation of school called, so he patted her soft head, saying, “Love you, Girl, see you later!” And he finished tying his shoes before walking out the door, heading for the high school.
The rest of us also left for the day’s routine: work and school. Just the ordinary; it was to be an ordinary kind of day. She was curled up and content on her soft bed in the backyard where she liked to keep an eye on any trespassing critters.
But shortly after we all left, she cried out. Our good neighbor next door heard her high-pitched cries, so he called us on our cell phones, then he stayed with her. One significant glitch was that all our cell phones were turned off, which had never happened before, and which proved to be the conundrum on this tearful day. So, over an hour passed before I even listened to the urgent message; during this time, our neighbor waited patiently with Lucky Girl breathing her last breaths. The guilt from this unintentional blunder stayed with us for a very long time; we felt sick inside imagining that she was lying there waiting for one of us to come home to tell her that everything was going to be okay.
He got down to her level, parking himself on the cool November concrete, her head resting on his leg. He was not a dog person, but he was a dog person on this day, petting her with compassion. It was ironic that she had had an aversion to him for some unknown reason. But that morning, any dislike she had for this man faded into the uncertainty of what was happening.
I pulled into the driveway, eyes wet and puffy from the phone message, and this was only the beginning. Walking through the side gate, I spotted our neighbor sitting on the walkway, his back up against the house, legs stretched out with Lucky Girl lying beside him. She was barely there, though – her eyes revealing acceptance and sadness. I think she knew more than we did at that moment.
He helped me lift her, gently laying her in the back of the car so she could lie on her side with plenty of room. As much as I wanted her in the front seat where I could see her, I knew she wouldn’t be comfortable. It wasn’t until I pulled out of the driveway that I realized the inevitable was drawing closer. She was eleven years old, but until today, she still seemed so full of life.
With tearful eyes, I drove, feeling grateful the freeway wasn’t a necessary route. Half-way to the vet, I knew. My heart felt the crossing. I pulled over to the side, got out of the car, and walked to the back, lifting the car door. I saw that my Lucky Girl had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I sobbed again, knowing more tears would follow.
I kissed her on her nose then managed to get back into the driver’s seat, continuing for another ten minutes to the vet. When I arrived, frantically entering the building, I shared my devastating news with the girl at the counter who acted amazingly aloof for my untamed emotions. But two vet techs wearing light blue medical jackets carried Lucky Girl from the car into a private room. I asked for a few moments alone with my girl. There she was lying on the silver table, where I’m sure many furry family members have done the same. I bent over, laying my head on her soft black fur, gently petting her, and whispering on behalf of her family, “We love you, Lucky Girl.” More tears slid down my face as I was unable to comprehend that this was it…
No more walks together, no more cuddles on the bed, no more tossing of the ball, watching her chase that silly round toy with the excitement of a toddler. No more playing tug-o-war with her favorite rope toy, entertained by her incredible strength and admirable effort. No more watching TV with her lying at our feet as though she’s enjoying the show as much as we are.
When we were all home later that day – the news weighing heavy on our hearts and minds – we huddled in a strong embrace, emotions running wild. This unforgettable chapter was part of life, part of owning a pet, allowing their unconditional love to wrap around our hearts. But this chapter was also about learning how to say good-bye.
The strange thing was Lucky Girl had never indicated that something was off kilter…except, perhaps, when she walked into his room that morning. She looked at him with knowledge we couldn’t possibly have been privy to. Even though her behavior was unusual, she was quiet, not crying or whining, so it didn’t propel us into worrying.
Hindsight is twenty-twenty. If we only would have known. It just happened so fast.
Remembering Lucky Girl who received her angel wings on November 11, 2011. ❤️
Carol still grieved the loss of her husband, Bill. Twelve months had slipped away, but forty-six loving years of marriage wouldn’t allow her to let go of her beloved. Living without him was like living without air. Sadly, they couldn’t have children of their own and Bill wasn’t keen on adopting. So, they lived their life together spending time in the outdoors and traveling when they could. At seventy-three years old, Carol recognized that her friends circle had shrunk. She had several acquaintances to occasionally meet for lunch, but she no longer had that best friend to rely on for laughter or tears or to confess her deepest anxieties. The friends she thought would be in her life forever had drifted away like the wind carrying a lonely leaf over a meadow. But Charlie, her friendly pug, needed love and attention, so he filled that role in this chapter of her life. She talked to her furry friend all the time and he was an intent listener. She swore that he could understand every spoken word. He was quick to pick up on her emotions by giving her a lick on her cheek or a nudge from his tiny wet nose.
Because of Charlie, Carol couldn’t wallow in the stronghold of sadness. By eight o’clock each morning, she had locked the door behind her, and she and Charlie were walking around the neighborhood. She had remained in pretty good shape and maintained to keep it that way. Carol and Charlie usually spotted Jenna who lived around the block and who was the first to introduce herself over a decade ago. During that initial conversation, Carol learned that Jenna was married to Tom, and they had one son, Jack. They had moved into their home shortly before the two women had met.
It was a Friday morning when Carol and Charlie were about to reach Jenna’s house on their walk. She was standing by her car but walked over to meet them. “Hi Carol, it’s good to see you,” Jenna said as she bent down to pet Charlie on his soft little head.
“Hi Jenna, how are you? Why the long face?”
“Well, I’m afraid I have some bad news…Tom and I are getting a divorce. I haven’t seen you all week to tell you.”
“Oh, I’ve had a nasty cold that kept me inside. I’m so sorry, Jenna! I didn’t see this coming!“
“I didn’t either, even though we’ve had some rocky moments. But after Tom and I talked, we thought it was for the best. I’m glad you’re feeling better, but I wish I had happier news to share.”
“Don’t worry about me. I feel bad this is happening, but it’s good you and Tom reached an agreement. I hope you’re staying in the house…”
“Actually, I’m moving out, but Tom didn’t ask me to. It’s my choice. I already found an apartment where Jack will live with me part of the time, and the move is Sunday.”
“This weekend? That’s so fast, Jenna. I’m at a loss for words, except that I’ll really miss you.”
“I’ll miss you, too, and our morning chats. You and Charlie need to take good care of each other.” Jenna wrapped Carol in a good-bye hug before the two women parted ways.
Carol felt the beginning of tears pushing through as she and Charlie continued their walk. She would miss her friend, but she was also saddened by the news of their impending divorce. So many young couples were separating, and these statistics made her heart ache. She missed Bill so much and wondered, why can’t couples find what we treasured for what felt like a lifetime? Ironically, Jenna had been friendlier than many of the new residents in the neighborhood – one of the reasons Carol felt a pang of sympathy and concern for this lovely young woman.
The neighborhood had changed since Bill and Carol moved into town decades ago. She recalled former neighbors with nostalgia. Mr. Angelino across the street no longer played his accordion – no music flowed from his backyard patio. Mrs. Miller didn’t toss saltwater taffy from her kitchen window for the youngsters; her kind gesture always brought high-pitched laughter that could be heard over the noise of cars rolling up and down the street. Then there was Mrs. Arnold who extended a generous invitation to the neighbors for a swim in her pool that amusingly resembled a kidney. Her joy in cooling off in the aquamarine water on those scorching summer days should be shared with others; that’s how she saw it. I enjoyed so many refreshing dips thanks to kindhearted Mrs. Arnold. These three lovely friends had passed away long ago, and these times are now distant, precious memories. Therefore, Jenna’s affable demeanor brightened Carol’s days. And now Jenna’s moving, she thought with a heavy heart.
Younger couples lived in these older homes now, but they seemed nonexistent. They were probably busy with their jobs, and occasionally, the cries of a baby escaped through billowing curtains. Maybe computer screens had become their new companions. Computers are terrific tools, but they can also be sneaky time thieves! When Carol does happen to see any of these young people, they don’t smile or wave much, not like her old neighbors did.
The following week when Carol and Charlie spotted Jenna’s house on their walk, it was apparent that Jenna had moved out. Her green SUV no longer hugged the curb in its normal spot. Two living room chairs, a worn sofa and ottoman, and a dresser sat on the dried-up brown grass. The roses and lantana in the front yard that once blossomed in soft pinks and rich reds had wilted, looking sad and forlorn. Tom’s black truck was still there, sitting in the driveway. But the tan stucco house looked exhausted, probably from emotions pulling its walls in several directions.
It was Thursday of that week when Carol paused for a moment…I want to believe this house could tell joyful tales from the past, but now I feel that if this house could talk, it might shed a tear or two from the second story windows, and those tears would fall into the neglected garden.
Carol missed Jenna, a bright light on those early-morning walks. Perhaps after experiencing the loss of my old friends, then losing Bill, Jenna’s move is one more loss added to the list. It’s a heavy burden Carol will have to bear but then let go of when the time is right. She was aware the stages of grieving differ for everyone.
Despite my own sadness, I hope this family can gather courage for acceptance of a new trajectory that lies in their future. I suppose I need to do the same thing. A year has come and gone and I’m no better off than the day I scattered Bill’s ashes on his favorite mountain.
Charlie nudged Carol out of her deep thoughts with his tiny wet nose as they began to turn another corner.
Another dog, that’s what I needed back then when our Black lab, Lucky Girl, on that gray November day Crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Then Mom, Doris to those who knew her well, gracefully entered her Eternal home a few months later. I honestly Felt empty inside – all enthusiasm drained, Grasping for unreachable acceptance through the tears. Handling the loss of our sweet furry family member Involved revisiting those memories of the love she gave Joyfully to her four adopted humans. Keeping emotions intact, yet missing Mom – her voice, Laughter, funny off-key singing, and mouth-watering cooking Made greeting each sunrise challenging. Naturally with active emotions, our family felt Overwhelmed. Dad was devastated, losing his Gal of sixty-seven Precious years that began in days of World War II. Mom was the Queen. Another memory was her unequivocal love for dogs. Riley was one of many canines she and Dad loved over the years. So, amid these painful losses came Copper, our lab. The Time was right, and I felt Mom’s otherworldly approval because Underneath Copper’s quirkiness lies his loyalty, cuddliness, and Vigilance in holding the guard dog role. He’ll be at our feet When we call him, shake a paw when he sees our hand. Xenial describes our friendly lab when anyone visits. Even at the not so Youthful age of ten, Copper carries an abundance of Zest for bounding through life, for loving his humans – reminding us that love carries on.
Hi! I’m Copper! Humans call me a chocolate lab mix. My legs are tall and my belly is shaped like a barrel. I hear I’m a big boy, weighing about 80 pounds, but I’m all muscle. I got my name because my coat is the color of copper like the metal. Humans often tell me I’m handsome, and if dogs could blush, I would blush. I love to cuddle and roll around the floor on my back, and my family gets to rub my barrel belly as often as they want. You see, I’m very generous, but my biggest job is to protect them.
One thing you must know, though, is that I’m not comfortable being left alone at home. I get a little nervous which makes me want to chew…especially, plastic and cloth. The last family I lived with got really mad at me, but it was their fault. They left me alone in the yard, so my nervousness snuck in. I scoped out the area, saw some furniture, then zeroed in on the cushions. Bingo! I chewed and gnawed and tugged to my heart’s content. My teeth were so happy! Next thing I knew, I was jumping into the car, heading to a white building where, much to my dismay, other dogs like me had been dropped off. And their cries hurt my heart, but I joined in the wailing when my human walked out the door without me. If I can’t be with my family, how can I be their protector? I’m amazed at how illogical humans can be.
Luckily, I didn’t stay at the white building for long because I went to live with a foster family. This kind of family couldn’t keep me forever, but they would care for me until I got adopted again. Heather was my foster mom and she was nice enough, but her two dogs scared me! Every time I trotted over to them, just wanting to play, they bared their teeth! The nerve! I realized I was the new dog on the block, but they should’ve welcomed me with friendly butt sniffs.
Soon after I was taken to Heather’s house, a mom with a young girl and boy visited me. When my eyes locked with theirs, I felt the connection! I just knew they would take me home, and they did! Excitement bubbled through me because I wanted to belong to a family; yet, I wondered if I would see that white building again. When I first trotted through the door and into the house, I met my new dad. He fluffed my ears and patted me on the head and said, “Hello there, Boy.” He had a strong, firm voice, but I sensed kindness in his touch. These humans welcomed me into their family, and I grew to love them all the same.
Mom became my main human. Each day, I watch her pour my food into the silver bowl more often than the rest of my family, but that’s because she has more time. She takes me for walks around our neighborhood, and at home, we cuddle on the soft carpet. That’s when she head-butts me gently, letting me know she loves me. In the beginning, I was so scared of the vacuum. She would push it past me and I’d run across the room, afraid it might attack me! Her voice was soft and gentle, though, so I finally realized that was her way of saying it wasn’t going to hurt me. When the vacuum roars past me these days, I just lay there watching the cord slither in front of me, ignoring it. I’m cool!
Now Dad’s a funny fellow. His laugh echoes throughout the house. Mom says, “He sounds just like Santa!” Dad also calls me silly names like log-dropper and doo-maker! He rubs my neck like he’s giving me a fancy massage. My eyes get tired and droopy and he says, “Copper’s drunk on love.”
My siblings are the best ever! Sister and Brother give me so much love it’s like the sun shines even when it’s raining! I’m their cuddle bug! Sister and I run together, which makes my ears flop up and down. Then we stop for what she calls a photo op, but I’m always camera shy. Brother takes me on adventures – up and down hills and into the woods we go! Lots of new scents to sniff and trees and bushes to lift my leg on. Life is good! I heel perfectly, prancing like a proud buck, and that’s when I hear, “Good boy, Copper!” Unless, of course, I see a squirrel skittering on the wire above us. I jump up and down! But that little enemy gets away! My humans laugh, and I still don’t know what’s so funny about a squirrel getting away!
My family loves to sing around the house, except for Dad, and I hear that’s a good thing. I always sing, too, holding my head up high, howling to match their voices. And every time they sit on the floor with their legs crossed, I back my bottom into their lap and plop right down. I feel their arms wrap around me and their faces next to mine and my heartbeat slows to contentment.
Then a very gloomy day came when Sister moved out of the house. She was older by this time and was going to live somewhere else. I watched tiny drops of water roll down Mom and Dad’s faces. My heart ached. I’m so glad Brother still lives with us, but it’ll be another gloomy day when he leaves and I think that day is coming soon. I’m preparing my heart. I guess that’s what Siblings do; they leave the house when they’re grown up. It doesn’t make sense to my doggish way of thinking, but it’s not my job to know these things. My job is to stay focused so I can guard my humans and give them lots of cuddles and sloppy kisses.
I still have to stop chewing. My new family had some things to learn, too. The water bowl they first put outside for me was plastic. They didn’t know I LOVE plastic. After lapping up water from that bowl, I grabbed it with my mouth and ran out to the grass, romping all around the yard. I ripped and tore and chewed and I had so much fun. When my family saw white pieces of ragged edged plastic strewn all over, their voices boomed!
I had prepared myself for another miserable ride to the white building. But I was surprised to find my bed still in Brother’s room and me tucked in each night. They must know my intentions are good! You know, being a dog isn’t easy. It’s a HUGE responsibility trying to keep my special humans safe!
After I got to know my family’s’ funny ways, I really wanted them to be my forever family because it’s the first time in my life that my heart didn’t hurt. As I’ve matured into my handsomeness, I’m not as tempted when I saunter by cloth or plastic, and besides, my family buys me really cool bones that I can’t destroy! I can also sit, stay, shake paw, and perform my fancy rollovers and crawls. These tricks come in handy when I want to melt their hearts. I’ve learned a lot since they adopted me a long time ago. I am here to stay! And they love my cool amber eyes. They tell others, “It’s like he sees into our souls.” I think my soulful eyes have kept them focused on me – the dog who loves them as much as I love peanut butter, and that’s a lot! And what makes me happier than peanut butter is that Mom, Dad, Sister, and Brother gave me the chance I longed for…to be a part of a family forever.
My family got these shots of me, and boy, were they sneaky! Thanks for reading my story. I hope it warmed your heart. Sending sloppy kisses, Copper 💗
Is there a challenge enticing you, but your lack of confidence makes you shy away from even trying? Well, do you realize you are allowing negative voices to control your actions? You are giving them free rent in your brain. How kind of you. Kidding. Only You know what your capabilities are without having anyone remind you, not even yourself! So, you should evict those voices! Now! Don’t wait! But it’s not easy, is it? We’re too quick to second guess ourselves, so we listen…well, listen to this…
Copper thinks he’s a lap dog. He has no idea that he is tall and lean, weighs 75 lbs. and is all muscle. Hence, he is not a lap dog! Truth is, because he’s confident in how he feels and because he sees himself as a chihuahua, he gracefully curls his body and folds his long legs to fit into the tiniest space – especially in the spotlight of the sun. He is the most faithful sun worshiper. And he’ll place himself between two pieces of furniture and lean. Yes, he’s a leaner. He leans on us when he sits next to us. He leans against the sofa and chairs and anything else that will hold his weight.
So, be like Copper and just do what you set your mind to. Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t give those voices free rent anymore! You have more important data to occupy your mind and Dogs really do know best, don’t they? 🙂
Stand tall on your own two feet – don’t give doubt the upper hand.And observe your furry family members who truly know how to live a life of happy!
Our furry family member turns 10 today! He’s a big baby and he still thinks he’s a lap dog even though he weighs about 78 lbs. If we sit on the floor, he’ll back his butt into the circle of our legs and park himself. “Oh, Copper. You filled a void when we adopted you eight years ago, welcoming you into our family. And in turn, you give us unconditional love and kisses, and let us rub your belly as often as we want. Look how generous you are! You continue to melt our hearts with your golden eyes and make us smile with your funny faces. We love you!!“