I realize that a lot of people don’t have animals, so probably can’t relate to this letter. We euthanized Aggie today. She was almost sixteen years old, and our story is important for me to share. Much like with people, I felt Aggie deserved a eulogy of sorts, so here it is.
Rich and I had a yellow lab, named Noel. She’s featured with me in all of the photos on my YouTube page. Noel had separation anxiety when we went to work, and barked almost non-stop when we were away. We had been told that she would do better if we had another dog, and I had always wanted a golden retriever. I had a friend who worked in a vet’s office, and she said her friend’s retriever was due to have puppies, but they weren’t sure if they were 100% golden retriever, as there were other breeds of dogs that could have been the father. I was excited about it regardless, so after the puppies were born, Rich and I went to see them. It was clear to us that they were all golden retriever, and we didn’t care if they were AKC or not. The owner put a crocheted peach colored collar on her to determine which puppy was ours. She put a light pink collar on the other female, which ultimately, turned out to be a small hiccup.
The day came for us to bring our puppy home…They were now being kept in a barn in a big hay filled enclosure. Rich picked up our puppy and we started walking toward our car. The owner said she needed to check something, and took the puppy and went back into the house with it. She came back with a puppy whose eyes were swollen shut, apparently allergic to hay. She said that this was our dog, but she couldn’t tell the difference in the color of the collar, so if we didn’t want the dog, she would understand. I snapped that puppy out of her hands so quickly, her head was spinning. I was never a mother, but my motherly instincts kicked in, and my puppy needed medical care and needed it immediately. The owner, who was a farmer, had treated the puppy with some medications she’d had laying around the house that she’d used on other dogs in the past. We called the vet as we were driving away, and made sure Aggie would be seen that morning. The vet confirmed that she was allergic to hay, and that her eyes would heal with time, but they were completely swollen shut for the first few days we had her. Once we got home with her, Noel took one look at the new puppy, and the bond was instant. We put a baby gate in the kitchen so that Aggie couldn’t run through the house, as she was quite the destroyer as a puppy. Noel laid beside her on the other side of the fence, so she was never alone. Aggie found ways to break into our family room, and gutted both couches by lifting the cushions and pulling all of the stuffing out from under them. The couches were completely destroyed, but you could never tell, because as soon as Aggie stepped away, the cushions fell back into place and the couches looked perfect again. She was that smart and sneaky.
Until she was five, Aggie didn’t like attention and had no interest in either Rich or me. Then I stopped working and Aggie and Noel had me with them all day every day, and things started to change. If I left a room, Aggie followed, I had an office in the basement, and if I went there, Aggie would crawl under my desk and snuggle in, until I was finished, then we would go back upstairs.
She loved the snow, and would bury her head in it so she looked like a huge bear. And in the fall, she loved pears, and would lay under our pear trees eating pears to her heart’s content. Aggie loved wearing collars, the more collars, the better. If you let her, Aggie would wear as many collars as you would put on her neck. She was jealous if she thought one of the other dogs was wearing more than her.
She wasn’t a huge fan of toys, but found one that was really thin rubber, and when it squeaked, Aggie thought she was hurting it, so she carried it like it was precious cargo, and if it squeaked, Aggie would whine.
She loved the rotating fan in our sun room, and I’d turn it on so it faced her and rotated back and forth so she was always getting a cool breeze on her. You could almost hear her sigh of contentment when she laid there.
Aggie and Noel couldn’t bear to be separated, and the vet told us there was a good chance that they would pass away shortly after each other, because their bond was so close. So we bought Aggie her own puppy, Bella. Aggie gave Bella lots of attention, but still spent her time with Noel whenever possible. Noel passed away and two weeks later in the middle of the night, Aggie let out this heart breaking howl, that made me cry for hours. You knew she had lost her other half, and she was destroyed by that loss.
In the last couple of years of her life, Aggie started sleeping on a dog bed beside me, and would put her head under the bed so it was hidden by the bedspread. I’m not sure if it shaded the light, or if she just enjoyed the feeling of being in her own little world, but she liked to hide her hear there. In the evening, if I watched television in bed, Aggie wanted to lay beside me on the bed. In the last year of her life, she couldn’t make that leap, so Rich would lift her up and she would lay there as long as we’d let her. She just wanted to be with her family. If we watched television in the basement, Aggie, used to lay on the couch with me, always with me.
She was my shadow, never letting me out of her sight. In the last couple of months, Aggie hadn’t been coming out of our bedroom very much, so hasn’t been by my side and it’s a loss I’ve felt deeply. I think, in a way, it was her way of disconnecting from us to ease the burden when we finally lost her.
She was the most beautiful golden retriever I’ve ever seen. Large, majestic, magnificent. Eighty-five pounds of purse muscle and a heart of solid gold.
My last story is one of loss. Aggie and Noel and I were playing in the back yard, and I lost track of Aggie. I kept calling for her and of course, I was panicked. So I put Noel in the house and got into our car and drove around the block. There’s a house that’s on a major highway that has a fence between their yard and the next house. Our house is one more house past the fence on a dead end street.. Somehow, Aggie had gotten on the other side of the fence, but couldn’t figure out how to get to the other side where she’d come from and was frantically trying to get home. When I drove past that house, I saw the fence on the back of the property and Aggie frantically pacing the fence line. I pulled into their driveway and called her name. It was summer and the windows of our car were open. As soon as she heard me call her, she ran as hard as she could, and leaped through the passenger window. Never hesitated, just jumped through it. I think she was more scared at being lost than I was of losing her, and she never ventured away from me again. I’ve never seen a big dog do anything like that, and don’t even know if she knew if the window was open before leaping through it.
I could tell you a million things about Aggie, but the most important is this. She was wholly and completely loved, and will be greatly missed. Life will go on, but there will always be a small hole in our hearts that Aggie has taken with her.,