Sunday, January 13, 2008


I've been thinking of Ashley and Nikki, our first Goldens and how difficult it was to come to Colorado without them. They were my first dogs as a grown-up and were part of what made Ken's house in Round Lake Beach my first home after leaving my mother's in Idaho. When Ken decided to attend Bel-Rea in Denver and become a veterinary technician we quickly realized we wouldn't be able to bring The Girls with us. We'd been unable to find a very big apartment let alone one which accepted dogs. Ken arranged to have The Girls move to Michigan with his family and I knew I'd probably never see them again.

The first year we were in Denver was a difficult time, especially because our home seemed so empty without the dogs. Before I found a job I spent long afternoons driving around the city, exploring, enjoying getting myself lost and finding my way home, and walking the local parks. Almost always I'd stumble upon people walking their Goldens and I'd find myself aching to cuddle up next to The Girls. Most of the time I'd walk right up to them, explain that my dogs were in Michigan and ask if they'd mind if I could take a minute and get a quick fix of dog love. While they watched and waited I'd roll my face against their dog, scratching their neck and running my fingers through the long hair near their ears. It was wonderful but walking away almost always broke my heart. I'd turn and watch them scamper off, running in that happy and exuberant ways Goldens have, return home, pull out the pictures and pine for hours on end. I'd always fancied myself a cat person but being away from Ashley and Nikki taught me otherwise.

This morning coming home from The Glen a woman stopped her car in the parking lot, climbed out and rushed toward me. "Can I pet your Golden?" she asked, her face wide with a big smile and beaming big eyes.

"Of course," I told her and watched as she knelt down next to Duncan and buried her face in his neck. She pulled at the fur on his back and played with his paws, taking in every moment as if she were sipping a fine wine or enjoying a remarkable meal.

"How long have you been away from your dog?" I asked.

She looked up at me and I could see tears forming at the edges of her eyes. "We have shared custody and I miss him a lot when he's not here." She smiled, cleared her throat and I recognized myself in her. "It's tough, you know?"

I nodded and told her where we lived. "Any time you need dog-love you come find us, okay?"

She smiled at me and I know we'll see her again.

I never would've understood without Nikki and Ashley. I still miss them. Every single day.


CJ said...

What a great story. I never wanted a dog really for I knew how much trouble they would be. I wasn't wrong. But when my brother gave me the Golden of 3 mos I lell in flove. Feeling sorry for her being alone so much I got the black lab. It's a lot of work but it's worth it.

Ruth said...

Ah, the beauty of a broken heart. Pema Chodron: "This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we're arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all."