Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pawprints on the heart

Today I wept as I read the Turtle Gardens blog – Laddie, a wonderful old collie who was adopted by Kate, has passed away.

There are some dogs who, from the moment they walk into our lives, leave huge pawprints on the heart. I know Laddie did that for Kate, just as my Caleb did for me. They are our “heart dogs” and as much as we may love all our other critters, they are the ones to whom we feel the greatest connection. They are the ones who fill our hearts and souls with a love so deep that it cannot be described, it can only be experienced.

Kate and I met when I did the homecheck for the very first dog Kate applied to adopt from Turtle Gardens – a lovely little golden-coloured girl named Lucy. I knew in a matter of moments that this was going to be a wonderful home for a very lucky Turtle Gardens dog. A while later, Kate added another TG dog to her family – a little golden-coloured boy named Finn.

And then Laddie showed up on the Turtle Gardens blog. Laddie tore at my heart strings, and I kept going back to his photo, there room here? Can I help him? Could I make it work? And then my heart positively leapt for joy when Kate told me she was adopting him – he tore at her heart strings, his picture spoke to her, and she knew she needed to offer him a home.

And so she drove all the way from the Fraser Valley to Topley, BC, to pick up this dear old dog with the matted fur and skinny arthritic body. And from that moment on, he was “home”.

When we adopt seniors, and especially ones with health problems, we know we may only have them for a short while; sometimes they prove us wrong and live for a long, long time. When I adopted my Caleb, who was only 5 or 6 years old and appeared in excellent health, I thought I would have him for many years; yet eight months later he was taken from this earth by cancer. There are no certainties. If we listen with our hearts we know which dogs need us and just as Caleb needed me for the little time he had left, Laddie needed Kate. Kate provided him with all the love and care and warmth he could ever ask for. And just as he lived a good life for these past few months, he died a good death, in his home, in his bed, with Kate’s hand on his beautiful face. Thank you Kate for loving him.

I believe that those who have left this earth still reach out to us. I often feel Caleb’s presence near me when I am in the pasture, or wake to the sense of his big cuddly body on my bed, head on my pillow, just as he used to do in life.

I know that Kate is grieving today, and I can only glimpse how deeply she feels this loss. Kate wanted so much to see Laddie running in the fields near her home. He made it as far as the edge, but always turned back too tired to go on. One day soon, when Kate takes her “goldens” to the field, I suspect that Laddie will finally be there, running free at last. And quite possibly there will be a brindle boy named Caleb running right along with him.

Run free, Laddie, and let your heartmom know you are but a kiss away. Your spirit will always be as close as the love that lives on in her soul.


Critter Keeper said...

I am at a loss for words but I am trying anyway... This touched my heart in a way I don't know how to describe, I'm sure that he and Caleb will be running forever together in the fields, live long Laddie and Caleb.
I'm so sorry for your losses.
He will always be a belly rub away from you Kate.
Lots of puppy love,

Anonymous said...

Awww Jean, I'm so very sorry to hear about Laddie. As you know, he was one that touched me too and I have shed a few tears for him this morning. Your words are absolutely beautiful -- thank you for your tribute to him, and to your Caleb, and all the "heart dogs" who mean so much to their people.

Kate, if you read this, thank you for taking this sweet old man into your life. It sounds like you were meant for each other, even if only for a short time.

Hugs to all,
Deb and Riley

Anonymous said...

RIP Laddie, I'm glad you knew love - thank you for that Kate.


Black Jack's Carol said...

I also follow the Turtle Gardens blog, and loved your post. You have written an eloquent and very touching tribute to Laddie and Caleb, and to all those who open their hearts to seniors and to pets with health problems. Thank you, Jean. And to Kate, though you grieve now, I believe you will also come to celebrate the beautiful gift of love you and Laddie gave to each other.