Our trip to the mountains of Pennsylvania was to be my topic for my next blog, but as life has a way of doing, plans changed in a very sad way.
On our way home I received a call from Shirley that the family's dog had gotten sick while we were gone and a trip to the vet revealed that she was terminally ill. The decision had been made to put her to sleep, but they had put the girl on drugs to keep her out of pain until the kids came home and get a chance to say their goodbyes. I was floored, and unable to say much since the kids were in the car with me.
The kids were naturally upset when they were told. Buffy excused herself to her room, Willow had not been with us so she already had known. Angel wept and Spike being the youngest asked a lot of questions, understanding, but not fully comprehending I think. While they were being told, the Golden Retriever named Carmel was sitting in front of me and I was petting her. I realized at that moment that this beautiful creature created by God was the only animal that had ever taught me a very important lesson.
I've always been more of a cat person, myself, but growing up my family did have a loyal and faithful pet dog that was a member of our family from the time I was 3 until my first year of college.
However, I never liked big dogs. Not sure why, really. Could have been the fact that my mother was always in fear of big dogs, perhaps. Or maybe it came from something else entirely, fact is, big dogs of any kind make me uncomfortable. When the moms got Carmel, Angel was a toddler I think, Buffy was perhaps five, Willow a preteen and Spike was either a baby or hadn't even shown up yet (now there's a blog for another day!). So the idea that there was now a big dog living in the same house as our children made me uncomfortable.
Funny things about dogs, though, they sense human emotions more than I think we realize. From day one Carmel seemed to constantly want to be with me. As soon as we'd get out of the car when showing up at the house, she would be there, jumping on me, pawing at my arms and refusing to let me move. Laverne and Shirley were both understanding, though nothing was ever said, and would call her off of me. Though after about five or ten minutes she would be right back where she started.
At first I would pat her and try to get away as quickly as possible. Then through time that turned into a little petting behind the ear and a slower move towards a chair or the couch. Even as the years went on, that girl never gave up. There she was on the passenger side of the car, waiting for me to step out so she could maul, paw, and lather me with that unconditional love that she was determined to show me that big dogs possessed just like the medium and small ones.
A few years later I found myself petting her more and joking with Chandler about Carmel waiting for me before we would pull into the driveway. I didn't even realize it then, but I was finding myself enjoying that moment when she saw me. Before she had begun to show signs of her age and gotten sick, I was now fully in love with this golden girl and stopped running from her, and went to her.
I'm going to miss Carmel as much as I do my cat of 20 years and more than I miss the old family dog. This girl was a true one of a kind. She showed me two things about life. She showed me that my dislike of large dogs was stupid, and that with perseverance, patience, and continual love, you can bring anyone around.
Goodbye old girl. You were beautiful, you were loved, and you gave love; but most importantly, you taught this old dog a new trick. I thank you for that. I'll miss you.