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Rated: E · Short Story · Animal · #1939085
We recently lost our beloved Golden Retriever. This is her story.
{center}For the love of Shasta{/center}

Eleven years ago a Golden Retriever puppy came into our lives. We were blessed to have her select us. We had no inkling of the joy this Golden Retreiver would bestow on us. It’s a big exciting world she had entered and this soft pudgy ball of fur was curious to see, nip and sniff everything. We owned a flower shop and she went to work with us every day. Every inch of the shop was explored in spurts of puppy energy followed by naps then up she would bound for more adventures. At the dog park, more than one person looked at her growing paws and said in wonder “she’s going to be a big dog.”

When she was too big to wash in the sink, we moved the bathing routine to the shower. She followed me to the laundry room to get her towel then into the shower for a scrub and dry off. The next morning, she watched my husband in the shower then ran off suddenly. Back she came dragging her towel and proudly held it for him. She just knew that he would need it. What a smart girl.
As she grew and learned manners and how to signal basic necessities, she gained confidence. Early on it was clear that she was a people dog and who can resist puppy breath. Shasta, as she was dubbed, became the official greeter at our shop. She took her assignment seriously and was very good at reading our customers and guests. She instinctively knew who liked dogs and who did not and acted accordingly, whether to roll over for a tummy rub or to sit quietly and watch from afar.

It was a bit disconcerting when people came into the shop, not because they wanted to buy flowers, but to see Shasta . She was our star, everyone knew and loved our beautiful girl and one customer even baked her homemade dog biscuits for Christmas.
We lost our business in 2009 and I am certain it was harder for Shasta than it was for us. She moped at home not understanding why we weren’t going to work so she could do her job. That’s when it occurred to me that she would be a great therapy dog. Hospice of the Valley has a wonderful pet therapy program and I volunteered our services. Both Shasta and I went through training and she earned certification as a therapy dog before we could visit patients. We were both energized. We had a purpose. As I suspected, she was a natural therapy dog with such patience. She knew who needed a little more time and attention and who did not. I just let her work the room and work it she did. Unfortunately, I was the one who had to stop our volunteer work as it was taking a toll on me seeing our hospice patients leave this world.

She accepted retirement with grace and we settled into a routine at home. By this time she was ten and a little slow-down was in order. A couple of months after her eleventh birthday she started to behave oddly; picky about her food, sleeping more, little interest or energy to play.

We were not prepared nor did we have a clue of the signs of impending death. We had both lost dogs before but this was so different, subtle and ferocious at the same time. Our vet ran blood tests but they did not indicate anything serious so a round of antibiotics was started in case she just had an infection. We tried to make her as comfortable as possible but I will never forgive myself for not asking the vet for pain medication.

The last morning she was gasping for air with a roar. She must have been in tremendous pain. When she stopped eating the Saturday before she was telling us that she had lost the fight to the cruel demon and could not go on.
My husband tried to lift her to put her in the car for that last ride but she was so heavy and she did end up standing on shaky legs. She walked very slowly through the garage and to the side yard to relieve herself then walked to the SUV where he lifter her in. Holding my tears back took more strength than I knew I had. Her peace came at 8:16 a.m. and was mercifully quick for her and the start of our anguish. She is at the rainbow bridge chasing tennis balls and waiting for us to join her.
We have had some truly wonderful dogs in our lives, Susie, Diva and Troika come to mind, but I have never encountered a dog with more intelligence, greater intuitive skills, gentle patience and happy disposition as our Shasta. She had a smile for everyone and her tail was always going. My grandson calls it her happy meter.

She touched our lives for too short a time and gave us so much joy and laughs from a heart that knows no bounds. I know she enjoyed her life with us because she trained us well. There will never be another Shasta but I hope someday one of her relatives will join our lives.
© Copyright 2013 Trisha Blaze (trishablaze at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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