Sunday, February 28, 2021

Charlie Forever in My Heart

Our angel watch with Charlie began on Sunday. He hadn't been eating much in the previous week, and he was sleeping longer and deeper and needed help getting to his feet, and we were carrying him outside. And while this may sound crazy (or maybe not) I'd had a dream that I was holding Charlie and giving him to someone. However, I have to think that the dream was prompted by the poem in my previous post. I'd just read it, and it truly spoke to me and the journey I was on with Charlie.  


So, on Thursday, after just a little more than 14½ years with Charlie, we said good-bye. The years passed much too quickly and I had a hard time thinking of him as a senior dog because throughout his life he had always been so active and bright. But the years did pass by, and in one of life’s tricks, he or rather we somehow aged. Charlie didn’t have a lot of energy these last few months, but he still followed me around the house and would greet me when I came home. 

Like every dog, Charlie was so many things on so many levels. On the outside, it was his long thick coat and his sparkling bright blue eye. I'd never had a dog with anything but brown eyes, and it took a little bit of getting used to at first, but it became something that truly made him unique. 

~A very first photo taken of Charlie in 2006~

Charlie was a traveling companion that never complained about hours spent in the car. 

~Charlie and Sheba, who he totally adored and thought we got just for him!~

He loved the smells of new places, and of course he loved when we went to Tennessee. 

My best memories of him are when we have gone there and spent time relaxing and recharging.

Charlie was a very vocal and expressive dog. His barking-howl and small grunts and moans and whining noises he'd make to protest something or to make what he wanted known took a little getting used to at first. That along with Charlie's loyalty and clear devotion were his most endearing qualities. And I will add here, that it was those very things that made him "so not a Golden Retriever" and why I just didn't want to keep him initially when we were fostering him for Old English Sheepdog Rescue.  

In looking through photos of Charlie today, I found this 2014 video below that I'd totally forgotten about. I loved hearing his voice. It's what I needed today. 

Up until the last year Charlie always used to sleep on our bed at night. He'd always sleep next to me and any dog that would come to the side of the bed, he'd leap across me and snap at them. I always found it a bit humorous in that it was the only time he ever did anything like that. Especially because he got along so well with all the dogs. 

Charlie's being this way reminded me of what our Holistic Vet calls "a secret life" that she thinks are made up of the things that our dogs will do or don't do, like or dislike and we've no idea why. I think this is true for every dog. 

One of those secret things for Charlie, was his love of young cats and kittens. 

When we were fostering them for a local rescue, Charlie could never get enough of them. We started calling him "Father Charlie" because he always wanted to be near them and have them all to himself.  And like a good patriarch, he was serious about his ability to care for them, he'd look at me like he was telling me, “Go ahead. Finish cleaning the kitchen. I got this.” 

Why he loved kittens so much remains a total mystery as is why he felt the need to keep the other dogs away when he was sleeping on the bed next to me.  

All of those things and so much more, and I have to add being a 2¾ year cancer survivor, made Charlie who he was. 

I know it goes without saying that we’re all completely heartbroken and I am feeling Charlie's loss just as I thought I would. I always knew it would be sad when we said goodbye to him, especially given his connection to so many dogs that we've known since 2006. 

It occurred to me that Charlie was one of the first of what I used to call "the lost boys." Longtime readers of this blog know that Wendy, our very first dog from the Golden Retriever Rescue was re-named after the Wendy in Peter Pan. When the dogs that we began fostering were "male-strays" I began calling them "the lost boys." Charlie is the last of that original gang - Louie, Ben, Josh, Cubby, JT, Logan, Tucker, Reggie, to name a few, were all part of that early club. 

Charlie's passing also represents the the passing of time -- the end of an era --The Charlie Era. It was beautiful -- some of our very best years, spent with the very best dogs. If there's a welcome at the Rainbow Bridge, Charlie is certainly going to have or has had one. 


We’ve lost a part of us that can never be replaced. The gift of having Charlie all these years was priceless. As Queen Elizabeth II once said, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” When it comes to our relationships with our 4 legged family members, grief is the price of admission. We all know it will happen when we open our hearts and home to them. Charlie was part of our family, and he and more than 14 years of memories will forever remain part of my heart and my soul.

~One of the last photos taken of Charlie 2-2021~










Thursday, February 25, 2021

In Memory of Charlie

In Loving Memory of Our Beloved Charlie

Ours from July 13, 2006 to February 25, 2021

~At Heaven’s Gate~

We would have carried you to heaven if we could have. 

We would have wrapped you in our arms, then step by step we would have told you stories of all our yesterdays, of memories created, a journey shared, of lives, our lives, filled with laughter and love, a passion, an energy, yet a softness that soothed our souls.

Visions would have danced in our heads remembering the very moment that made your heart ours and ours yours. 

You, a companion, a friend, a partner, a teacher, a listener, a student.

We would have thanked you for all you gave, your heart was big and your soul radiant.

We would have thanked you for sharing your life with us.

We would have reflected on our journey, our family, our friends. 

As the time grew closer we would have held you tightly as if to never let you go. 

We would have kissed you “Good Night” and then very carefully handed you over at heaven’s gate. 

We would have told you, “It’s okay to go for we will meet again.”

We would have if we could have, but we didn’t have to, you made it on your own, as we can hear you telling stories from heaven above. 

The memories and the joy of knowing you live on in our hearts....

Thank you Charlie, for the journey of a lifetime.

God-speed to our beloved Charlie, whose eulogy I will write in the next few days.         


(Based on the poem by Teri Kado)     

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Buddy and a Letter to PH

I’m still exhausted from the events with Buddy. On Saturday, I ran some errands, and took a 3 hour nap afterwards. It did a lot to clear my head. But I’m still upset about everything.

Below is a letter of sorts that I've written directly to Buddy’s first family because they are or have been readers/followers of my blog. They are the reason behind what has happened with Buddy and why I am feeling the way I am -- And this post picks up about where my last one ended yesterday. They are words that I really want to say to them, but felt "muted" until now. 

Dear Peter and Family, 

When the decision was made to let Buddy go, I wanted to be kind and keep my word, and so I contacted your son to let him know that we were going to let Buddy go. It is, and always will be a decision that is difficult to make. But it's one made out of love for that particular dog, and I felt strongly that it was Buddy's time.

My plan was to meet your son at the Vet’s office and give him all the time he wanted to spend with Buddy. Then, quietly, and peacefully, as it should always be, we would all be there as he left this life for the next. 

At least, that was my plan. What came after I contacted your son has truly changed everything. Your son’s insistence that he be allowed to take Buddy overnight of course came with my resistance.  Then being told your daughter was coming from out of state along with all your text messages didn’t help the stress I was already under and the emotions I was already feeling. Then being told by your son “that he was on his way to get him” really made it worse. 

I will say here that in the time that I had Buddy, I never ever played the “you are no longer his owner card,” but this time I did to both you and your son. You no longer legally owned Buddy. You signed your ownership of him over to the rescue. I was not, under any circumstances going to allow Buddy to leave our house with your son. I thought that agreeing to let your son and daughter spend time with him was more than fair. 

And I’ll also add that believe it or not, there are rules and protocols that the rescue has in place and I have agreed to those rules, and I intended to follow them. But I will of course have to confess that I broke a few of them in allowing your son to visit Buddy. In my defense, I tried to create a distance between us, that is why Peter, I never answered any of your e-mails and didn't mention him much on my blog - I needed and wanted the space to care for Buddy on my own and make those decisions that I or WE felt best for him and not be judged for them. And now knowing how you have "intervened" shows that my thinking that was correct.   

But anyway, none of that appears to have mattered. In the end, you never showed any amount of respect for me, or to an organization that had accepted Buddy into their program. We never thought of Buddy as anything but "our dog" and the rescue never hesitated to provide him with everything that he needed. 

Your actions spoke volumes when I refused to do as you were asking, because you took it one step farther and you made me feel bullied. When the comment was made that “he should be with his family and that he should be made comfortable” really stung. I’m not sure what that meant that we had been doing for him? The care we had given Buddy the last 175+ days were never considered and our feelings were totally tossed aside by what you wanted, not what may have been best for Buddy. You never once considered anything but your own need to control everything and you said as much in a text message.  We were caring for Buddy in a place where he was comfortable, and content. He had other dogs (and cats) around, us around, and I think he was happy here. That night in the kitchen, and “Angel’s dream” I think confirmed that. Buddy was in a place that he felt comfortable (he hardly ever barked by the way) and he ALSO knew us and knew what to expect.

I know, I know, this is all a moot point, but I have to say it. Peter, you all got what you wanted, Buddy has been returned to you with barely even a thank-you from you; but there has been plenty of criticism of the rescue, and maybe even me, that has provided Buddy with everything, and that you have shown nothing but disrespect towards.  In case you didn't know, the rescue is a non-profit all volunteer organization that relies on donations to help pay for the expenses of nearly 1000 labs each year. And your son scoffed at a nominal adoption fee of $125 that was asked for by the rescue, and that would have helped to offset a very small amount of Buddy's expenses - which by the way was almost $1000.  I think the rescue waiving that small fee in the end says more about an organization that I support as much as it does about you. For the rescue, it’s always about “the dog.” and their needed care.

In the end, I don't know if any of this matters to you. Because you got what you wanted and what you demanded, and didn't care who you stepped on in that process. You have Buddy back. You are free to make any and all the decisions for him. And it has come at no expense to you. For me, it has cost me plenty, including the trust the rescue has had in me. I worry that I may not be asked to foster for them again. I am angry at myself that I allowed you to manipulate, control, and bully me and the rescue to get what you selfishly wanted. Giving him back to your family was just easier and I do find some consolation in that he is with someone who loves him- How YOU all felt was never ever in doubt, and is why I allowed your son to visit and be part of Buddy's life. I know now, I should never, ever have allowed or agreed to those visits. 

Finally and for the record, I am angry at myself for so many things - One being sorry for the problems I have caused the rescue, and for what it has cost them financially. And, I am hurt that I personally will not get that “good-bye” to Buddy when his time comes. The stress of getting him "packed up" at the last minute (not even having time to feed him his dinner) and the chaos of the entire day, affected everyone in our household. 

But I don’t regret having the chance to get to know Buddy, to love and care for him for 175-ish days. Peter, I fell in love with the Buddy you first told me about back in August. The one that jumped on the trampoline and was the world traveler and whose charm and spirit allowed him to be loved by so many, including me and my husband. I look forward to the day when I get to see ‘that big-eyed boy’ once again, whole and brand-new, smiling, his tail wagging, his eyes happy and sparkling like they were that night, in that perfect moment we shared in my kitchen. 

Best regards to you and your family. I do wish you all well. 

~Kim W~





Saturday, February 20, 2021

Buddy's Story - Chapter One

It's around 3 o'clock in the morning, and I can't sleep. I go into the kitchen, and there's an empty place on the floor where Buddy used to sleep.  That empty place, and the emotions of the day are still very fresh in my mind, and they are the reason why I'm awake at this hour and why sleep is eluding me. I realize I need to write down now everything that's tumbling around in my head when my emotions are so raw.

~The empty spot in our kitchen left by Buddy~

So, let me start at the beginning of this story that began a couple of weeks ago, when Buddy last saw the Holistic Vet for acupuncture. He was unable to walk that day and had to be carried in and out of the office. Holistic Vet said that she thought he'd sprained his neck. I think he must have done that by rolling over, something he loved to do.  I thought he'd get better with some rest, and a little bit of time. Buddy did improve somewhat. But in judging him day to day, even before he'd hurt his neck, it was easy to see that he was losing that spark, and was struggling more and more. My heart was telling me that it was time to consider letting him go. But as always, I shoved those feelings and thoughts aside. But when Lab Rescue received the report from Holistic Vet, it prompted a phone call from my coordinator and a very frank and honest discussion. In our conversation about Buddy's needs and care, we decided it was time to let Buddy go. In going forward with that decision, I knew I would have to talk to Carl about it, and there was one more person who should know too. That was Buddy's first family. 

~Buddy, on his first day with us~

When I first met them in August, they were very much on the fence at that time about turning him over to the rescue, and so, the coordinator and I bent a rule, and let them come to my house to see where he would be living. That meeting had gone well, and they asked if they could come and visit Buddy while we had him and I'd agreed to that. The husband and wife left the country as planned and the son, who remains in the area, did come to see Buddy. And there was no question that Buddy was happy to see him. I couldn't deny it, it was obvious that there was a connection between the two and I even mentioned it to the son. 

Fast forward through the fall and I'm going to add another story to this. Buddy was available for adoption, and there was one person in particular named Angel that was interested in adopting him.  Her name popped up more than once on Facebook whenever Buddy was posted, and I wondered who "this Angel lady" was. Finally, she called me. And I felt like I was talking to a long time friend. She is wonderful! We chatted for over 2 hours on that first phone call. Angel had previously had a dog with Buddy's limitations and was well aware of what it took to care for him - I thought Angel was perfect perfect for Buddy!! The only problem, if you want to call it that, was that Angel is a single lady that has steps in her house. She worried that she wouldn't be able to get Buddy in and out by herself, despite using the 'Help em up harness.' I understood, and reluctantly agreed with her. It was a decision Angel struggled with, because she really felt a pull and a connection to Buddy. Knowing that, I told her to think about it, and we would catch up in a few days. 

~Big eyed Buddy! ❤~

A few days passed and as we agreed, a phone call came from Angel that still in this moment, brings my own tears to the surface. She had had a dream about Buddy the night before. In that dream, she said that Buddy came to her and told her that he was happy with us and wanted to stay in our home. Maybe by itself, you could discard and trivialize that dream -- If it hadn't happened on the same night that I'd gone into the kitchen in the early morning hours and there was Buddy, standing on his feet looking at me. It was unusual in itself because Buddy was unable to get to his feet on his own. But there he was, standing there, looking at me, slowly wagging his tail and smiling and his eyes were bright and sparkling. Had my brother been awake and gone into the kitchen and gotten Buddy to his feet? I don't know. I never asked. But I gave Buddy a few treats, talked to him, kissed him on top of his head, and in that one quiet and perfect moment, I felt love and happiness from him, and I also felt a connection between the two of us that hadn't been there before. When I started to go back to bed, Buddy followed me down the hallway (something he never did) and back into the bedroom, where he slept next to the bed. So, as you can understand that the next day, when Angel called and told me her dream, I felt, and I still do feel that there was truly something "cosmic" about it. In talking to Angel, we both knew Buddy was where he was supposed to be. We never had any more inquiries from anyone interested in adopting Buddy after that. Buddy was with us, and where he was supposed to be.

And on that cosmic note, I've rambled on long enough so I'm going to end this post so I can go and cry some more. But I will post the rest of Buddy's story tomorrow and tell you what has happened to him and why he has left us and is no longer part of our household.

                                                   G'night......Or is it good morning?