Give me a moment here, I've just lost a close, dear friend. I know the standard reaction is "Get over it, it's only a dog." And, in time, I will get over it. But, please, give me a moment.
I know every single person who owns and loves a dog or a pet of any kind thinks theirs is the best and the smartest the world has ever known. But Lily really belonged in that argument and I give 75 percent of the credit for that to my son, Chance, who raised Lily from a 3-month-old pup and the other 25 percent to the fact that Lily was truly a unique animal.
I only got to know Lily really well during the last four years she, my son and his daughter moved in with me while my son has been in medical school. But in those four years I came to regard her as my dog. Sorry, Chance.
I took her out to play ball the first thing every morning when I woke up and always took her for a long walk the last thing I did at night. Sunday, while we were playing ball, she suddenly just keeled over, laying almost motionless in the field. I summoned Chance who carried her home. He looked her over, recorded her heartbeat and felt that she had experienced some form of a seizure. But last night she seemed her old self again. When I got home from work, she was anxious to go for her walk and during that walk she chased and treed a cat and played with another Golden Retriever.
She also adored My Hero's two dogs. She taught the oldest of her two dogs how to walk without a leash during a weekend that dog, Rufus, stayed with me while My Hero was out of town. They two of them had a strange relationship. They never played together, but were inseparable when they were together. However, Lily loved to play with the younger of My Hero's two dogs. Once when Lily and I were out at a dog park near the Meadows Foundation, Lily spotted My Hero's car arriving and she took off like a shot to greet her and her pets. (One of the reasons she is My Hero is because she took time out from her hectic schedule and dealing with an even more important emergency to come to my side just to sit for a while.)
Chance has told me that once he graduates from med school, he wants to set up practice somewhere in the Texas Hill Country and I have been dreading the day he, Grace and Lily would leave. So when the opportunity came up to adopt another Golden, I lept at the opportunity. But this dog was no Lily. For one thing it chewed up and destroyed everything in its path. It was like Lily on speed and at one point Chance sensed my frustration and disappointment. "You've got to remember," he told me. "Lily is an exceptional dog. You're not ever going to find another Lily."
This morning I had an early doctor's appointment. When the alarm went off, Lily was laying by the side of my bed as usual. I took her outside briefly, petted her, gave her some fresh water and then went to Medical City. When I got home, I was surprised that Lily was not at the door to greet me like she usually was. I called. There was no response. Then I went upstairs and found her in my bedroom. I saw immediately that she has passed. I petted her, kissed her, put a quilt over her and cried. Then I called Chance.
None of this does justice to Lily and how much she meant to this family and my extended family. But it's all I've got right now.
Lily was family.
Right now, Chance wants to be alone with her, to bury her by himself. And I respect that. He promises to call so I can join him just so I'll know where her final resting place is. I guess I'm a sentimental old slob, because right now, I can't stop the tears from falling. So, please, give me a moment here.