Duncan and I crossed the street and meandered through the park as we have done more times than I could count. We bypassed the soccer hoards, skirting the edge of the park, around the four baseball diamonds to the low hill below the memorial where Dunc's bunnies roost. I dropped his leash and watched him explore, sniffing through the tall grass, under the low boughs of the pine trees and let him just be. He was graceful and cautious, diligent in his sniffing as only dogs can be, careful and vigilant, oblivious to my presence. And then when he was done he turned and smiled in my direction, ambled over, licked my cheek and dipped his head into the grass at my side, pushing himself against me, rolling over onto his belly to look directly into my eyes and the blue sky beyond. He was free to wander but he wanted to be there with me as much as I wanted to be with him, so I took his paw in my hand, leaned down and kissed it.
I am grateful for his presence by my side and will not take a single moment for granted. I am lucky to have him in my life and to feel a bond with such a special creature. And as I looked at him laying next to me, his paw cradled in my hand I thought of our blog friends Michael and Miguel and their own Golden companion Duncan, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon after a day of being treated like a prince, given all the treats he couldn't enjoy when he was healthier, loved as much as he deserved. Their hearts are heavy tonight, no doubt, but I have been reminded of what a precious gift I have been given, what a tremendous responsibility it is to love and care for a soul as remarkable as that of a Golden but also what joy and happiness it brings with it. And tonight, on our last walk before bed, we will venture out, Duncan's nose to the grass while my eyes scan the sky for that new, bright star that has taken its place in the heavens, set to forever shine down on those who loved it so much in the brief time it was here.
Bless you, Michael, bless you, Miguel, and godspeed to your friend and companion. You are in my heart.