2 years earlier, on Christmas Day, we went to the Emergency Vet with him and were told that he would likely not last more than a couple of months more. It has been a worrying few years. We had to keep his breathing under control, so he had to be kept calm and cool. We stopped inviting people over, as he would get too excited to see them. I didn't go on any of the family overnight trips, as I didn't think that he would cope with having someone that wasn't in our little family caring for him. It was worth it, though, as most of the time he was happy, friendly, and pretty much his usual self. We took care not to get him riled up and he seemed to rather like the chilled out life.
Humidity did give him trouble, though. June was a worrying month last year, but then the humidity levels dropped and he was back to his usual self. I worried about how I would know when it was time to let him go, as once an attack had passed, he would revert back to his usual self. He gave us some scares, but they could be followed by months with no problems whatsoever. Surely I would always be living in hope that another recovery would follow.
Tuesday night was different, though. I had stayed up with him on Sunday night and he didn't calm until past 4am, but was fine the next few days. Then humidity levels rose to over 90% on Tuesday and he was struggling a bit. I stayed up with him again, but could tell that it wasn't like the night just 2 nights before. At 2:10am it was if he was tired of fighting it any more and wanted to give up. I had always whispered to him that I wanted him to let me know when it was time and he did, for which I'll always be grateful.
Almost 13 years ago I had just landed at LAX and was walking over to the parking lot with my then fiancé, when I saw a few people gathered around around his truck. There was a little bundle of fur bouncing around the cab. My first pup. I had always loved dogs, but we could never convince mum to get a dog while I was growing up. It was love at first sight. I married my fiancé a couple of months later: there was now no way that I could get back on a plane to England and leave them both.
He was massive dog, with lots of thick fur, which needed sweeping up after daily. He was so very gentle and patient, especially when our kids were babies and toddlers - he never reacted if they were too rough with him or pulled his tail. It probably isn't too surprising that both kids' first word was 'dog'. He did have an attitude, mind: when he was a puppy I once shut him in the kitchen behind a child gate while I was sorting through some papers that I didn't want him to knock over. He proceeded to turn his back on me and ignored me until he was freed an hour or so later.
I took him to the city's dog obedience classes while I waited for immigration to send a work permit my way. The instructor, who had been training Golden Retrievers for over 30 years, said that she had never come across a Golden with an attitude before... Still, he passed the course. It took a while for him to accept, but he did eventually learn to heel on a slack leash and obey hand commands.
He would play fetch for hours on end without let up. He would turn excited circles in the car when he saw that we were nearing the dog beach. He was too laid back to ever bark at other dogs or to try to chase any cats that we passed on our walks. He was everyone's friend. He liked to have his back hips rubbed, even more than a belly rub. He would follow me from room to room.
That's one of the reasons why I am missing him so very much. There's no dog sat at my feet as I type this. Our other dog is not too far away, but he's not following me about the house while the kids are at school. He's not so close to the chair that he's lying between the wheels. He's not letting me know that he thinks it might be dinner time.
He was such a good dog and I miss him so much. Even if we do now know that it was him that was the one sometimes nosing through the trash while we were out. Well, who could blame him? That bland homemade diet we put him on during these last few years didn't look appetizing at all...
(sorry for being so long winded)