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 feel your pain for Genie. A dog becomes such a great companion, and certainly became central to your girls lives!
No other animal tries so hard to become truly part of the family, does it?
We've had three, actually, and none came to a death truly attributable to old age.
The middle one, a toy poodle, became paralyzed by an attack by a big mongrel. Lived several more months in a custom designed and built "wheel chair wagon". Pulled herself around with her front legs.
We've not had a dog for a decade now. Thinking about again now! You need a new dog as well, I think.
Some people eat dogs. I, for one, think that is terrible.
As I wipe the tears from my eyes so that I can write this reply, I think of my 10 year-old daughter and our two cats, Samantha and Monty. I know that a similar day will come when we'll probably have to make the same decision for our pets as it makes me tear up even more.
I am truly sorry for your loss; people say "it's almost like losing a member of your family when you lose a pet;" I say, "no, it is losing a member of our family."
Judson, I know how you feel and you got me in tears...sorry for the loss, but envious of the memories!
I think you might like to pick up the short story "Dog Star" by Arthur C. Clarke. It can be picked up at your local library (it was published in the collection of short stories entitled "The Nine Billion Names of God") and is only a few pages long. But I know you'll appreciate reading it right now. You might even find yourself reading it out loud over the phone to more than one person...
Let me know what you think when you read it. God Bless, Tony
I know exactly how you feel, I went through the same thing on 10/13/11. Still hurts, and your story brought me to tears. God bless your family, and Genie who is romping around with Him in Heaven now.
the hardest thing in the world is letting go of someone you love dearly. some people will say it is just a dog where i say dogs are better then most people. someone can beat on me all day and i won't shed a tear but one of my dogs die and i cry like a baby. wonderful touching story judson!
Dear Judson & Sherry
My condolences on the passing of Genie. Although a blessing and joy for 13 years, her absence is heartbreaking.
My condolences to you and your family, Judson.
I am so sorry for your loss. Your good dog had a very good man.
We had a wonderful Akita named Codybear. He was a beautiful, loving 135 lb. lap dog. When his time had come, our outstanding and compassionate DVM Nick Valenti, from Selden, NY gave us this poem:
"Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... "
A beautiful tribute to a special member of your family. I'm Sorry for your loss Judson.
Some day in heaven, I will see my precious Missy again.
Judson, thank you for sharing your life,Sherry and Genie's life with us. Still have water flowing from my eyes. Genie is at Rainbow Bridge waitingt for you and family to be picked up on your way to Heaven. I just saw the video of the 3-year old boy who died and went to heaven..came back, and at 11 he and his pastor dad wrote a book, "Heaven is for real". He said he saw a lot of animals in Heaven. Just look forward to the nuzzling of that muzzle again.Filena and I have a little Poodle, "Snuggles" and "HAD" ONE NAMED "Precious" and am looking forward to being with them both in Heaven.
Thanks again for this post. Lord Bless. & comfort you in your loss.
Rev. Don Beddingfield, (Ret.)