Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Goodbye, Puck

One afternoon, when I was three, I was sitting in my yard, playing with an inflatable ball, when a German shepherd came along, began barking at me ferociously and made a lunge for me which resulted in my ball exploding in his bite. My mother came out and saved me before anything worse happened, but it was pretty scary.

When I was thirteen, riding my bike one morning, a giant unfriendly albino German shepherd launched himself from his home yard and at my bicycle. I fell over, slightly trapped beneath my bike, but the dog did get a grip on my jacket with his teeth, and ripped it off of me. In a feat of pure adrenaline, I let him keep my jacket and I got back on the bike, pedaling furiously. From these incidents, I developed a real dislike for dogs, particularly bigger ones. I wouldn't pet or play with them, no matter how friendly they were, until I met Puck.

Puck was a lovely golden retriever that belonged to my husband's family. The first time we met, he was so happy to see me that he jumped up and knocked me over. At the time, I was terrified. But as I continued to visit, I realized that even though he was a big, strong dog, he was also sweet, friendly, and loving. Puck taught me to overcome my fear of dogs, and even to love them.

I spent a lot of time brushing Puck, and clipping his nails to keep him looking nice. I went for long walks with him, threw tennis balls for him, played tug of war with towels. I slipped him treats under the table at dinner time, brought him rawhide bones for chewing. I loved to lie on the carpet with him, my head on his chest, just knowing that he trusted me to love him as he loved me.

When he got older, and got knots in his long fur, I'd trim them out. If he was too tired to go for a long walk, I'd rub his tummy instead. When his legs started to give out, I was patient, helping him to go outside, rewarding his great effort with bits of turkey or cheese. When he couldn't manage stairs anymore, I would hoist his back end to get him in and out, always careful not to hurt him, and then I'd lie down with him and brush his fur.

Yesterday, at the great old age of 13, a huge achievement for a golden, Puck had to be put down. A tumor had formed around his heart and was squeezing it. He had lost the use of his legs because there just wasn't enough blood pumping to keep them functioning. And yet, it was so hard to say goodbye, with his soft brown eyes gazing up with love. How do you say goodbye to someone who changed your life?

It will be strange going to my in-laws' house now. There will be no happy tail wagging thumping the floor when I go through the door. No one will beg for treats at the table. There will be no more walks filling in the space in the routine of a visit. I won't trip over food dishes, and I'll have to sit on the sofa, because there will be no more Puck to lay my head on from the carpet. Goodbye, my sweet Puck. I love you.

3 responses:

donna said...

I'm so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose a beloved dog. I'm glad that you were able to form a bond with a dog who changed your opinion of dogs in general. Hopefully you'll have another canine love sometime in the future.

Pilgrim said...

I am SO sorry Kate. It really hurts to lose a loved one that way, or any way really. I know exactly how it feels and you have all my sympathies. Try to remember only the happy times.

Michael A. Burstein said...

Condolences on your loss.


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