When Sherry and I decided to get married, like many other couples starting their lives together, we made plans. One of our plans was that when we got a house, we were going to buy a dog. Specifically a Yellow Lab and name her Genie.
Three and a half years after we got married, I drove to Memphis and picked up a little six week old, mostly white Lab puppy.
She was Genie.
When I brought her home, our two and a half year old daughter immediately fell in love with her best friend.
The two of them became inseparable. She announced she was now a dog. Sherry and I, as well as my in-laws who had moved in with us, all became dogs. My daughter proudly announced she no longer had hands but had to “wash her paws.”
Genie grew from a bouncing puppy to a young adult dog. She loved to run outside and occasionally chase ball or a little girl.
Often in the evening when everyone else had gone to bed, I would either be working or watching TV and she would come up to me with her muzzle and nuzzle my hand, demanding the attention she so richly deserved. I would pet her head and say, “Genie, you are a good dog.”
Time passed and Genie grew into an adult dog. She and my daughter were still inseparable. She loved to go riding in the car. She loved it so much we told her she was a “traveling dog.” As my daughter grew, the TV became more of a fascination for her. Many afternoons, she would be in the living room watching the TV with Genie lying beside her or more often than not acting as her pillow.
And in the evenings, she would come up to me and nuzzle my hand, demanding the attention she so richly deserved. I would pet her head and say, “Genie, you are such a good dog.”
Time passed. My in-laws passed away. Sherry and I welcomed one son and then a couple of years later another. As the boys grew and began to toddle around the house, they too knew Genie and fell in love with her. Genie loved them. Often they would launch themselves at her to hug her and she just stood there. Other times, Genie was a big, lovable and occasionally moving pillow.
Genie loved those boys. We welcomed two more dogs to our home. Genie wasn’t as thrilled about them.
And in the evenings, Genie still frequently came up to me, would nuzzle my hand, demanding the attention she so richly deserved. I would pet her head and tell her, “Genie, you are such a good dog.”
Time passed. My daughter became a teenager, the boys went into elementary school and Genie became an old dog.
Time was not Genie’s friend. She went blind and became very arthritic. Last fall, the first frost had come and we were taking the dogs out and we noticed Genie was having trouble standing and walking.
We had talked about what life would be like when we had Genie, we talked about life with Genie and now for the first time, Sherry and I talked about life after Genie.
This winter was mild, even by southern standards. As the cold weather finally yielded to spring, we watched as the infirmities of age ravaged Genie and we began to ask how long she had.
A few weeks ago, a wonderful opportunity presented itself, but it meant would move to Virginia. We began asking ourselves if Genie could even make the trip and how it would be for her. She was blind, old and had only known one house.
As we searched for an answer, Genie decided the issue. A few days ago, she climbed the stairs from our basement to the main floor of the house. It took every bit of strength to climb those stairs and she collapsed when she made it to the top. She lay there for several minutes before finally getting up. The next day she just lay around. Her breathing was labored. Finally she went downstairs for a while, to her favorite spot. When she tried to make it back up the stairs, she barely made it. When we took her outside, she had trouble standing.
We knew the time had come.
I strapped the leash to her collar and took her outside to do her business, and then I said, “Come on Genie, let’s go for a ride.” She wagged her tail, still loving to ride in a car. Sherry and I stood there with tears in our eyes, knowing how this ride would end.
Almost thirteen years earlier Genie had ridden with me for the first time. Now, there was one final ride.
We want to ascribe human attributes to dogs but as we were at the vet’s office, somehow I think Genie knew the end had come. I fed her a few final dog treats while the Vet prepared paper work and the shot. Genie lay on the examining table and she reached up with her muzzle, nuzzling my hand. For the last time I reached over and petted her, saying, “Genie, you are a very good dog.”
My loyal friend of thirteen years is gone. My life is now a bit emptier than it was a few days ago. Genie was originally just an idea that eventually became a part of our family. A chapter in my life has closed.
I woke up this morning in a new home. I got up in the quiet darkness and went out into the living room. Down the darkened hall, in a home she had never been in, I could almost see the white outline of a familiar shape. She was not the old, gnarled dog, who had to hop up stairs. She was the young dog who joyously played with a little girl and greeted us all with sloppy kisses.
Just then, I could almost feel that muzzle nuzzling my hand again, demanding the attention she so richly deserved.
“Genie, you were such a very good dog.”
I know. I am so sorry. It is so hard.
Bless your heart, I know how you feel. I recently had to put my Gracie down...a small white stray I adopted 15 years ago.
Like you, I often feel her presence...they bring us so much joy and love...and it's so hard to say goodbye.
My sympathy to you and your family, Judson. God Bless you...
My Shadeaux was 12 in Feb.,........and I'm thinking this may be his last summer. He's such a good dog.....they sure get inside your heart.
Sorry for your loss.
Those we love never really die. They live forever in our hearts and memories.
It's no mistake that they call dogs man's best friend. Your blog took me Down Memory Ln., Smokey, Tosha, Duke, and Pepe. Thank you, for reminding me how blessed I have been to have these good dogs in my life. I think I'll give skipper, precious, and shadow some extra petting tonight
Touching. I to have a 15 year old dog who has become part of the family, that is on his journey to the after life.
Thanks for sharing with us.
They don't call them, "Man's BEST friend" for nothing.
Having a hard time typing. Can't see the screen.
Here's a great clip from the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson with Jimmy Stewart reading his poem, "A Dog Named Beau":
I lost my Chew-Bean after 10-years. I call her momma's baby and the kids called her sidewinder, and the Timex dog. She was a beautiful white Chow-Huskey and had been hit by a car at age 5, but survived. She walked funny and when she got excited, she shook all over. I even had an elderly man, walking on two canes himself, suggest we have her put down. "Not on your life" I told him, "she fought to survive and we wouldn't take that from her for anything on earth." She decided when it was her time and she let us know. Her last act was to crawl and lay her head on my knee. I still cry thinking about my dog. It's really hard to get over the loss of a friend that is more faithful and loving than most any person you will encounter in your lifetime. God bless and you and I think he does take dogs to Heaven.
I have been down that road 5 or 6 times in my life and it never gets easier. Dogs taught me where babies come from and what loyalty and trust is about. I am sorry for your loss.
I grew up with a pack of short haired pointers for quail hunting. As I grew up, I watch the old dogs teach the new dogs so much about hunting...even the differences between blue quail and bob white quail. (Bob White's freeze, Blue's run away) And it amazed me how much knowledge they shared...about how to run out in front of the Blues and turn them back into the hunters, and about avoiding rattlesnakes. And most of all...I loved what they taught me about the joy of life, hunting and giving my all for what I loved, and of course...the love of being outdoors.
Sometimes I wonder just how much genetic transferance dogs have generation after generation... of their seemingly devoted and loving relationship with humans. They have been our trusted pets for 1,000's of years. It amazes me yet, that they can be so gentle, so kind, and so protective of our children, letting them ride their backs, pull their fur and tails...and just lick kids in the face and "take the unintended abuse." There is a bond we have with dogs...of which no other animals share with man, and with few other humans for that matter. Why do they live shorter lives than man? Perhaps so that we might also learn from them at a early age, that life is temporary...and we should all be about living our lives the best we can with the time we have.