Friday, August 22, 2014

A Goodbye and a Hello

I'm really hoping this will be the last sad blog post I have to write for a very, very long time. I'm sorry to even write it but it's important to my family's life and I need to record it, if only for us. It will end with something sweet though. 

The day we returned brokenhearted from Florida, we picked up our 10-year-old golden retriever, Beckham, from a boarding facility. I crouched down and gave him a huge hug when they brought him to us. He has a comforting presence. That night he did not seem great. Over the next few days he was breathing really hard and blood dripped occasionally from his nose. We found a spot or two every day, usually where he had been laying down. I was very scared and pleading with God not to take him right now. 

Three vet visits in the next three weeks only amounted to this - diagnosing the problem would be extremely costly and would probably only confirm a diagnosis we couldn't do anything about. He had all the symptoms of a nasal tumor. The vet said they would help us know when it was time to say goodbye. We decided to try an antihistamine and an antibiotic in case it was just an allergic reaction. 

For about four weeks we cherished our beloved friend and watched him very closely. It was hard to watch him decline and live with the dread of what was probably coming.

During that time we visited Curt's family in Missouri. Beckham loves to be with Nana and Papaw and run around with their dog, Silas. He had a great time. One afternoon they wandered past the ten acres of my in-laws' property and made friends with an elderly neighbor. When we finally found him the man said he wouldn't mind keeping him. Of course he said that! Here is Beckham's "Homeward Bound" moment. 

On our way home we spent the night in Irving and got to see lots of old friends. Beckham had a little reunion with Janelle's dog, Jones. The kids asked if Janelle had named her dog after us, which was hilarious. I wished I could know if the dogs remembered each other after 6 years. The kids don't remember their playdates from when they were babies, but they really enjoyed being together. This was definitely a summer highlight. 

A week ago today we woke up and Beckham was clearly very sick and suffering. They say you'll know and it was true. He was dying. A repairman had just arrived to fix our air conditioner and he heard all of our tears and painful goodbyes while he was working in the attic. Curtis and I held each other and cried. Annabeth sang a song to Beckham and included the words "You will see God!" I am tearing up again right now.

Curtis took Beckham to our vet and he went to sleep peacefully. Our faithful old boy was laid to rest under a gorgeous tree on my parents' property. 

I cried so many tears that my kids went into comfort mode. They brought me tissues and cups of water and said, "We're so sorry, Mom." I felt proud of their compassion and guilty that they had seen me cry so much this year. I wondered if they would need therapy because of what a wreck I have been. (I was very sick with Cyclospora for 4 weeks after we went to Mexico. They have not seen me at my best in a while.)

Our house was painfully quiet and still. You don't realize how much you do for your dog until he's gone. After 10 years, it's second nature to open the back door at certain times of day and let him out. To be walking out the front door and look back to make sure he's inside. To step out of bed gently because your big ole bear is probably laying on the floor next to you. I took a bath for practically the first time in 10 years without him laying next to the tub. It's hard, hard, hard with so many reminders all day long. Coming home after we had been out was the worst because he was not there to greet us. I left the dog bowls on the floor for several days because I couldn't bear to clean them out and put them away. We still haven't gone swimming because it's been too sad to do that without him. 

A few months ago I decided that if adoption did not work out for us, I was going to get a lap dog to help keep me company while the kids were at school. I had a breeder picked out and knew there would probably be a puppy born at the end of summer.  I did not expect that our big boy would pass away before that happened. I did a little research one night about the toy breed I was considering compared to the golden retriever. There was just no contest for a young family. Goldens are amazing family dogs. Beckham had been everything we hoped he'd be and more. His patience with and affection for the kids was priceless to us. I realized I was not ready to live without a golden in our home. One day I would like to have a lap dog, but if I'm being honest, my kids are not at a great age for one. 

On Monday my friend Crista and I took our boys to Schlitterbahn water park in New Braunfels. While we were there, my sweet husband was researching breeders so that we could have a little bit of sunshine in our house sooner than later. Annabeth starts kindergarten in a few days and I was dreading being completely alone in my home. And we all needed a dose of sweetness after a very difficult summer. As we were filling up my car in New Braunfuls after a great day, he sent me a picture of a potential puppy that brought happy tears to my eyes. 

We all had so much joy over this picture. It was medicine to some sad little hearts. Yesterday the four of us piled into Curt's truck at the crack of dawn and made a four hour drive into the country. We met this sweet 3-month-old girl in person and fell in love with her.

She sat in my lap and we snuggled for four hours on the way home. She has an outgoing personality and is enjoying the kids. For now she is sticking around the living room and hasn't explored much more the downstairs. I have my phone timer set to go off every 30 minutes so I remember to take her outside. It's kind of like having a toddler again. Also, I feel like I *might* cope better with puppy badness now that I've survived two toddlers. Maybe. 

Ladies and gentlemen, but mostly ladies, here is Miss Sailor Jones.  

A lapdog indeed, if only for a day.