Friday, October 20, 2006

Life After Levi


It's funny how animals affect some people. I confess I am one of those people who REALLY love their animals. I have an aunt who pushes her dog in a baby stroller. I don't take it quite that far, but I understand why she does. Pets really can get into your heart. They sure have gotten into mine.

Levi was more than just my dog. He was my friend. Wherever I was in the house, he was right there with me. If I moved to a different room, he got up and followed me. When I went to bed, he came and slept on the floor beside me. I couldn't fall asleep until I knew he was there. He was my shadow and constant companion around the house. I can't go to bed before midnight most nights, so I would stay up and unwind, watching TV, and of course, Levi would be right there. Most nights, Tracy and the kids would all be asleep before I was ready for bed and I would look at Levi and say, "Looks like it's just you and me again, Levi-boy." The fact that he was deaf never hurt our communication at all. He knew he was loved. I wish I'd gotten him years ago.

With his previous owners, he was left alone almost all the time. He was a pure-bred Golden Retriever, and they left him outside on a short leash and fed him table scraps if they remembered to feed him at all. We also discovered that Levi had been shot with a shotgun at one time. He miraculously survived. When we got him, Levi was malnourished and eaten up with heartworms. In fact, it was so bad that it took three heartworm treatments to cure him. The third treatment almost killed him, but he miraculously survived again. I'm so glad he did, and that we were able to spend his "retirement" years with him.

Levi hated being alone. That's why he followed me and Tracy all over the house. Many times he would wake up just to look and make sure one of us was there. When the end was inevitable, Tracy and I stayed right there with him until it was over, so he wouldn't be alone. He knew that we were there.

See, I told you I was pathetic.

What I loved the most was taking Levi on walks. He loved being outside. He loved to stop and sniff at different spots. I always thought this was funny. I never knew what scent he had picked up and why he practically buried his nose in the ground sniffing it. Our walks were special because of the fresh air and the undeniable companionship we shared. I believe it is providential that we were able to completely finish our last walk yesterday before the stroke happened.

When he and I took our walks, we always walked basically the same path around the yard, which is a couple of acres. Last night, after a long day of grieving his death, I took the walk alone. I stopped at the places he usually stopped, and that's when it really hit me that he was gone.

I am thankful that he didn't suffer at the end. He had suffered most of his life, but didn't suffer once during the entire time we had him. He was spoiled and pampered every day by his family. Even the cats would rub up against him. He lived like a King and "ruled the roost" during his final 2 1/2 years; He deserved it. He died as peacefully and content as he had lived...with our family. In fact, when Tracy walked into the exam room, he smiled at her. I'm serious! He was surrounded by the ones who truly loved him, and, as he had done so many times before at my feet, he peacefully fell asleep one last time.

Levi, I miss you so much it hurts. I will always be thankful for having you in my life, if only for a short while. I hope that your time with us made up for the time you had to endure those horrible people. I will never forget you, you old puppy. You made me very happy and you were such a great companion. I love you and you will always have a very special place in my heart and memories. Goodbye, old buddy. I'll see you later.
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