Almost 8 years ago I drove 5 ½ hours to pick up 15 pounds of
fluffy love that would become one of the most beloved members of our extended family.
Our Newfie Maddie, from the very beginning, was a different sort of dog.
If she had had opposable thumbs and the ability to speak,
we would have thought her just a very hairy human.
We spent one day teaching her to "potty outside"...and never an indoor accident...
she just "got it".
She's a sensitive soul who understands us humans better than we understand ourselves.
She has been my very best friend for every day
since the first.
In the early days she ran hard and played hard.
Daily walks and time spent at the dog park were her favorites.
She went everywhere with us...our constant companion.
Now, as you've read in past posts, our friend is very arthritic and unable to
participate in play or long walks.
A daily regimen of anti-inflammatories, supplements and pain medication
helps to keep her mobile.
We limit her walks to short ones.
Now, stuffed squeaky toys give her the joy that was once reserved for romps in the yard.
She happily anticipates her daily ride on the gator
as she accompanies me to afternoon chores,
but climbing in and out of the gator is difficult.
Her "will" is the strongest part of her being.
Maddie and I have traveled a long and winding road together
and I fear that I see the end of our "together" journey in the not-too-distant future.
Yesterday was a really bad day for her... walking is becoming a difficult chore.
It saddens me to watch my friend's body age and decline so rapidly,
while her spirit remains so young.
My friend has stood by my side and loved me unconditionally for all of her life.
She has given me a gift far greater than any I have ever given her.
In the end, I know that the last loving act I will show her will be to not allow her to suffer...
to be there with her and help her to that place beyond suffering.
It's the hardest decision we must make for our animal friends.
I have been asked the question "how do you know when it's the right time?"
I always reply..."They let you know."
When all of the joy has left a dog's life...and believe me, dogs are filled with joy!
When that joy is gone and living is harder than leaving...
they have a way of letting you know.
Until that day comes, though, I will try to give back as much of the love
as Maddie has given to me these years.