1994 – 2010
Last night, shortly after midnight, my little Oliver slipped from his sedated sleep and into the forever-after. Yesterday morning, concerned that the end was near, I contacted his former mama, Kelly, who was able to come to say her goodbyes. She brought with her some pictures of a young Oliver, his sweet serious eyes so easily recognizable. We carried him to the garden where she sat with him in the evening sun, a light breeze kissing his fur, while I took Sadie and Charley for a walk on the beach. Then we changed his bedding, covered him gently, and over a cup of coffee we talked about the joy he brought to both our lives.
Oliver, my funny little polar bear, my happy-dance dog, my little old man. You came to me in September 2008, uncertain, deaf, visually impaired, and showing the beginnings of Canine Cognitive Disorder. Your CCD became worse but your personality exploded to envelop me and all who met you.
You made me laugh, you frustrated me, you melted my heart, you kept me on my toes – quite literally, as I rescued you from behind doors and under tables and beneath beds.
You loved the pasture on the farm, racing ahead with Sadie to eat the alpaca and piggy poops. But you adjusted well to the move to the island and went from refusing to walk past the end of the driveway that first day, to walking down to the beach and all the way along the front – always going for a little dip in the water, my hand firmly on your leash to guide you back.
And I promised to keep you safe forever.
But that promise was broken when I hired someone I thought I could trust, someone who works with dogs every day, someone I explained your disabilities to, but I didn’t spell out for her that you must not go off leash. And so she let you off leash on the beach and you ran into the water and became lost in the ocean. And despite her running in to get you, and despite the aftercare I gave you, you could not recover and now you are gone.
I am so sorry I failed you, my precious boy. You had so much life left in you, and there was no need for it to end this soon.
Some may say sixteen years is a long life for a dog. But I say it is far, far too short.
If I could rewrite history, I would never leave you again.
We kissed your soft fur
And our tears washed your face
As your spirit slipped gently away
But love held you near
As our hearts broke in two.
At the Bridge we will see you one day.
Your mamas, Jean and Kelly