It’s a sunny and very warm day here in Virginia, certainly not the norm around Christmas. Usually this would be a day of splendor, relaxing outside while the babies play. Today my heart is broken. My Golden/Sheltie mix, Goldie Hawn left us prematurely from tumors crushing her liver and gall bladder. Words cannot express how sad we are. She quickly went downhill and we were forced to make a difficult decision. While I know it was the right one, I can’t fathom the last few days. Our other baby, a Golden we named Macgyver, is suffering and looking for his buddy. He won’t eat or drink water.
I’m also angry, filled with a dark rage. The week was destructive in several ways, forcing me to loathe people once again. I’m enraged for various continued condemnations of the fact I’m a writer. I’m furious with intolerances and ‘know it alls’. I’m ready to lash out at basic stupidity and the realization there is so much bullshit in this world. I’m mostly angry with myself and wondering if there was anything more we could have done to protect Goldie. Could we have been better parents? Could we have given her different food? Could we have prevented the terrible seizures that required daily pills? I suppose we’ll never know. What I do believe is that she came into our world for a reason and I know this little girl was a precious gift.
We were lucky enough to stop at a Food Lion in January of 2004. The holiday decorations were still up and we were stopping to get the basics for dinner. A sign located outside offered free puppies. One sweet, angelic face caught our attention. We weren’t planning on getting another dog. We had three at the time, but as fate would have it, we couldn’t resist her tiny licks and her imploring eyes. This would be the first, and at this point, the only girl dog. We had big boys. They were rough and tumble. They were all male. Then there was Goldie. Daddy dog took over. He named her Goldie Hawn because of her gorgeous coat. I’ll never forget when he came back from what was Petstuff, having purchased a purple bed and pink and purple toys. From then on she became our little princess.
Over the years she took over, wrangling and controlling her brothers. She witnessed the loss of the three and the inclusion of Mac into our lives. She kissed away our tears and always managed to look straight into our very souls. We quickly realized she was part Sheltie so her little legs kept her from running as quickly as her brothers, but that never stopped her. She took over the roost. She had my assertive personality. She wrestled through the many presents under the Christmas tree, knowing exactly which ones were hers. She knew the exact bag in which I’d purchased yet another toy – and that happened on a regular basis. Then she was able within minutes to surgically remove the squeaker and the stuffing from a tiny hole she’d created. She never tired of being nuzzled or mouthed by Mac. She never became angry with the fact others received attention. She did maneuver her way into our beds, taking over the leather sofa and always waited by the window for one of our returns. Her sweet muzzle nestled on the bay window sill will forever remain a picture in my mind.
Goldie had more than her share of challenges. Her first seizure took us by surprise. It was Mac who knew something was very off. In the middle of one night, he growled in a low hiss unlike anything he’d ever done before. Merely seconds later her furry body began to convulse. By the miracle of a good vet and pills she’d be required to take for the rest of her life, we were able to control the episodes, but not before one wretched weekend nearly three years ago. She began convulsing first every few hours, then finally every twenty minutes. We couldn’t get her help fast enough and we thought we’d lost her. The resilience of animals is amazing. She returned with a vengeance, never letting the terrible experience alter her sweet personality.
A short time after this we noticed tumors. After a few weeks, her lovely tail, her golden feathers began to die. Amputation was the only acceptable method of stopping what was growing. Our special tailless wonder never looked more beautiful.
Last year my DH went through cancer. The growth was aggressive and he was forced to be away for a week at a time for chemo for several months. When he returned from each treatment, Goldie and Mac never left his side at night. They watched over him like hawks, alerting me when things weren’t going so well. He credits their constant attention and love for helping him through the arduous ordeal. Dogs are amazing creatures. They sense when something is wrong. They knew when cars are miles away, but coming home to be with them. They lick away sadness, nuzzle to keep you sane and fight to the very end so as to not disappoint you. Goldie was no different. She didn’t want to leave us. She needed to be here. Being our support was her job and one she took seriously. She fought death like the trooper we’d always known her to be.
Yesterday was a fog for the three of us. With her gone, our attention turned to Mac. He won’t drink or eat and looks for her in and out of the house. He’s so sweet and I worry about him more now than ever. I know he’ll regroup but it’s heart breaking to see him in so much pain. All we can do is love him. I pulled out her stocking yesterday – one of two she has. The pink velour special piece was embossed with ‘princess’. I couldn’t stop crying. I’d already purchased toys for Christmas and I’m afraid to look at them now. The tears won’t stop. Oddly enough, we have another baby coming on Tuesday. Indiana Jones is another Golden. We decided it was time to bring a third baby into our lives weeks ago, never knowing this would happen to Goldie. She was only twelve. While I’m happy about our decision, the timing is horrific, or perhaps it’s not for Mac. He can’t be the only dog in the house. That we learned very early on. He thrives on companionship. Perhaps Indy will bring some joy and stop the pain. Perhaps.
When you lose a family member, and Goldie was my daughter, you are reminded very quickly of what’s important. It’s not the soulless bastards who strive to destroy lives or livelihood of mankind. It’s not money and fame, clout or personal possessions. What matters is selfless love – the kind only animals seem to know how to give. I will remain angry. I want to lash out. I need to break and smash things. I long to beat my back neighbor to within an inch of her life for chaining her dog for hours outside. But I won’t. This kind of behavior won’t bring her back. All I can do is remain true to myself and my love of animals. I will say that the majority of people deserve a special place in Hell. If the meek shall inherit the earth, animals are quite possibly our only means of salvation.
Love on your children, your friends and family and light a candle for my little girl. Her passing has forever changed me. Today I’m not an author, a manager where people condemn others for creating stories or even a woman. Today, I’m just a broken-hearted mommy dog.