by Lisa Peluso Woomer
Waffles, our Good Boy
I am a dog owner. I have rescued dogs.
When I met my current husband, I was a single Mom with two young boys and a rescued dog named Goldie. I am embarrassed to admit, Goldie was not my first choice when visiting the dog pound that fateful day in 2000. She was already 3, had been abused, puppies jumping all over her, not effectively housebroken, and lay with a tired expression upon her young, Golden lab mix face.
My Mom said, "Take her. Take Goldie. Look at her, she is like me. She is old, tired, pees at the wrong times, and just needs love." My Mom sold me on Goldie, and I brought her home to my 7 year old son, hurting from his parent's divorce. Goldie became the "constant" in our lives, waiting for us eagerly to come home.
She only wanted to play with dog toys shaped as soccer balls, all fuzzy and black and white. She would toss the soft life-size ball into the air, sometimes with it landing on the lamps. Joy came upon her face when the boys would pet and love her. She did not want to be outside and would jump higher than the sliding glass door handle, to get our attention. We called her "Tigger" when she did that.
Goldie and I attended Dog Obedience school where she passed with flying colors! I later learned the instructor used Goldie and I as an example of effective bonding, saying we were the "Emotionally battered woman and the physically abused dog."
Four years later, the boys grew taller, and I more tired. We had adjusted to our new life without a Dad in the home, and Goldie grew tired as she was losing some hair and slowing down, still peeing in the house, unaware she should not. I soon met my Prince Charming and Goldie had a new master and friend. My new man had a lonely male dog at his home, named Waffles.
Waffles was a strong, fast, golden Lab Shepherd mix who swept Goldie off her four feet! The two dogs became inseparable as did their masters. Goldie had her second lease on life and grew more active and happy with her boyfriend, Waffles. My oldest son, Dylan, appropriately nicknamed his new dog, Waffles, "Wobbles" as the dog was much more stocky and would wobble as he ran or walked. As the story goes, "the two became one," and our home was filled with a man and a woman, two boys, two dogs, and a rescue cat named Fred. Fred loved the dogs, and the three got along amazingly. The sun rose and it set several times.
My Mom would visit, and her grand-dogs Waffles and Goldie would follow her around as if she were their master. My Mom had a way with dogs, and they adored her almost as much as she loved and petted them.
When she would stay in our home in the country, the dogs would always stay close to her, even sleeping on the couch with their Grand-Dog-Ma, as she loved them unconditionally as they did her. When my Mom became sick and died, a part of me died also.
As months passed, Goldie slowed down again, lost weight and hair, and became unable to get up all the time. Dylan looked into my eyes and said, "Mom, if you decide to take Goldie in, I will go with you."
This great offer of love, of unspoken kindness, was received on that fateful day in June 2011 when we met at the Dog Doctor for a quality of life check-up. The sweet Vet, appropriately named Dr. Lamb, agreed with us that Goldie had become ill and was suffering.
Dylan and I sat on the cold floor with our Goldie as the medicine was administered. We cried together and told her "Goodbye," and remarked she would be with Grandma, my Mom, in Heaven.
Dylan took his dog Goldie's collar home, and went on with his life. I, though, died a little that day. I wiped my tears and suppressed my grief, as losing my Mom, other loved ones, and many furry family members over the years had numbed me to the prospect of grieving again. I had life to live and things to do. At that time, I didn't really grieve my beloved, Goldie Girl.
A week ago today, Waffles joined Goldie and my Mom. My husband and I brought Waffles in to Dr. Lamb, as he'd been falling and groaning and the worst, barking at night as he could no longer climb the stairs to the bedroom with us.
Waffles had given us a son, a Lab Retriever mix named Scooter, a product of an escape with the bitch down the road five years before. Scooter came up to bed with my husband and me, which left Waffles alone in the dark, in pain.
The night before Waffles died, I slept downstairs with him as I had five years before when he almost died of leptospirosis. At that time, I gave Waffles 18 pills each day after he'd spent a lot of time in Intensive Care at the Animal Hospital in Tacoma.
He had become our "6 million dollar dog" then, as that is about how much it cost to save his life. Today I would give all my life's earnings to touch his soft ears once more.
Last week, on the drive to see Dr. Lamb, I knew it was Waffles's last ride. My husband had to pull the blanket in the back seat of the car to get Waffles out as he could no longer get out of the car.
It was the day. I knew it. Sadly, my husband did not feel what I felt, and had no idea we were about to bring our Good Boy to his death.
I cried as I looked into his eyes, then my husband's, as the doctor showed the x-ray displaying the oversized tumor in Waffles's belly.
It was time. We could not allow this devoted companion to suffer one more day, as he had loved us unconditionally all these years; eleven and one-half years for my husband.
The doctor gently administered the medicine into Waffles's IV, after asking me if it was time. I told Waffles, "Goodbye, Buddy. Go be with Goldie and my Mom now." He went to sleep. Just like that.
I cried. I cried and I cried and I cried. I asked for Waffles's collar. I moaned, sobbed and kept crying. I cried for Waffles, for Goldie, for my Mom and for my husband feeling the pain. I cried for all the times I would come home and Waffles would greet me at the door.
I cry because now, no one barks at me when I leave. I cry because now, no one runs down the driveway trying to stop me from leaving. I cry now because he is gone, my friend is gone, my companion, my best friend. It is so painful losing a pet, it really does physically hurt.
It has been 7 days and I cry. I cry for Scooter who just lost his biological Dad. I cry for the cats, Fred and David, as they smell Waffles's abandoned collar then roll in it. I cry and feel such a deep sadness in my soul. Mostly, I cry but know in my heart the love between a dog and a devoted master is timeless; and I will always have dogs in my life.
I am a dog owner. I have rescued dogs but the truth is, they have rescued me.
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