My recent absence from the blogging world has been related to various events in my life that occupied an inordinate amount of time. I thought I would bring my readers up to date on one of them, so you can forgive my lack of responses to your blog posts and comments.
The first crimp in my style came when I noticed one of my dogs limping. My Lylah has been with me for 6 ½ years now, and although I have had many dogs in my lifetime, she holds a special place in my heart.
Lylah is a pedigree Golden retriever that came into my life over my wife’s concerns. In New Hampshire, we lived on a cross country ski resort, with tons of property that bordered a state forest with about ten thousand acres of woods and a river running through it. The setting could not have been more perfect for raising dogs, so we always shared our lives with five or six at a time.
Over the years, we lost many, and it was never easy. I still think about some of them on a daily basis. Panther loved to hike. Josey, my sweetheart, came to class with me every day when I taught at the university. Baroness was a gorgeous Irish Setter. Austin Louie came from a long line of show dogs. Bertha loved to swim in the river.
Dustin was a fisherman and spent every day with me, especially in the car. He jumped into my jeep as soon as I awoke each morning, just hoping I would get out my fly fishing gear. Dustin was particularly memorable because if I left him in the jeep, he would always hop into the front seat and lean on the horn after 45 minutes. His routine became the standing joke at all the local eating and drinking establishments. On Dustin’s last day, my son woke me up and said the dog wasn’t moving. I got up, came down the stairs, and saw him sprawled out lifeless on the floor. As soon as his eyes met mine, he stood, stumbled, and went to the porch. When I opened the door, he sauntered to the jeep, jumped in, and died.
I know to some people they are only dogs. To me, they are innocent, loyal, loving beings that allow me to share my life with them. Can we say that about every human in our lives? Of all my canine friends, Lylah is the most special.
When my Josey died soon after we moved to Florida, I was actually lonely and could not wait to find another special pooch. Of course, we no longer lived in the woods. As all my dogs in the past were quite large, my wife made me promise that the new addition would be a little lap dog. I looked around at several litters from several breeders and saw Lylah.
Goldens are not exactly lap dogs, but I did meet her 65 pound mother and decided I could sell it to my wife. She knew how badly I longed for another dog, so even though Lylah’s mom was more than twice the 30 pound limit my wife pushed for, she consented. I guess I was so happy that I somehow forgot to tell her that Lylah’s father was 132 pounds. Anyway, we brought her home. In about a month, the dog’s paws were more suited to an elephant, and she grew to a trim 110 pounds in two years.
In any event, Lylah became my favorite. I have probably had fifty dogs in my lifetime and loved them all, but Lylah tops the list. She eats, sleeps, and breathes for me. Recently, we took a long walk down a local hiking trail and I spotted a limp. By the time we got home, she was in obvious pain. I didn’t think much about it at first, but she got progressively worse.
Having had many dogs in the past, I looked for symptoms of distemper and lyme disease, for example, but could not identify her ailment. We took her to the local animal hospital, which was a chore. She wouldn’t move and weighs a ton. Then, she wouldn’t get out of the car. After x-rays, blood tests, and a zillion dollars, it was determined she has severe arthritis. She is on medication and responding very well. We are putting her on a special exercise program, which suits me fine.
In any event, my Lylah is okay and life is nearly back to normal. I’ll never be able to replace her (But, of course, I said the same thing about Josey).