Growing up, I always wanted a dog. I begged my parents to let us get a dog throughout my adolescence and early teens and vowed that I would someday have a dog–specifically, a Golden Retriever. Colin and I moved in together and after a year in our first apartment, moved into a different place that allowed dogs. I was finishing up my undergraduate degree with an internship and a flexible schedule, so we figured it was a great time to train a puppy. After doing tons of searching, we found a couple in Missouri with a new litter of golden retriever puppies and made the drive to get our girl.
I will never forget that day. We were in the backyard of their house with six fluffy balls of love running around. I think my heart was about to explode. We were having so much trouble picking a puppy, knowing we wanted a female, but they were all so adorable. Then one that had been playing in the water came right up to Colin with wet and muddy paws, and climbed on into his lap. He had paw prints all over his legs and shorts, and we knew that she was the one. We went directly to my parents’ house and I just remember my dad repeating “what have you done, what have you done” with the biggest grin on his face. Little did he know how much this dog would impact all of our lives.
From that day forward the adventure began! We knew we wanted a very well-behaved dog and the two of us worked really hard to crate train her, have her behave on leash, not jump up on people, and stay off of the furniture. She definitely had her puppy phase and had a few crazy moments (dragging all the cushions off the couch and pulling out all the stuffing!), but I would say she was a quick learner. She was also a bit of a fraidy-dog. It took her many years to realize that trashcans, inflatable yard decorations (snowmen, pumpkins, etc.), and kites were not out to get her. We included her in nearly everything we did and we always considered her when planning anything outdoors. This dog spent many great hours swimming, fetching, hiking, snowshoeing, and walking.
She was right by our sides through many of lives biggest events and changes: marriage, moves, school, jobs, loss, and happiness. She always stayed consistent, providing unconditional companionship and love regardless of the situation. She was amazingly easy to please…if she got enough exercise, some dry dog food, and a bit of attention, she was a happy camper. She loved so hard and loved everyone who entered her life. We were convinced she would be the dog that lived to be 18-years old. The dog that helped us raise our kids as she’d helped raise us.
And then she got sick. First in April, and again exactly 1-month ago today. The first time, she was able to bounce back, and we thought we were out of the woods. The second time, she fought hard to stay with us, but in the end, we had to let her go. Putting our girl down was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. So, I’m letting myself be sad and grieve…wondering if the pain in my heart and lump in my throat will ever go away. Hoping that it will get easier to come home to a house and not see a happy puppy face in the window anxiously awaiting for me to greet her.
Thank you, my precious Zo-girl, for all that you have brought to our life. You will be missed more than you know.