We walked the grounds of the Loomis Basin Vet Clinic, a little dazed, knowing we soon we have to say goodbye for the last time. Dr. Jon Peek — our vet here, and the same doctor who put down the famous racehorse “Noor” and told me about that experience — had prepared us for the inevitable.
We got a book for our son “Dog Heaven” to help him understand: “When dogs go to heaven they don’t need wings, because they like running best,” it reads.
I wrote an obit for Gretchen: “We will miss your companionship, your thumping tail, our walks in the woods together, swimming and sailing with you at the lake, and napping next to you in front of the fireplace.
“You were a fixture at the foot of our bed for more than 13 years, friendly to all, and definitely weren’t a picky eater. You were our first ‘child,’ a ‘counselor’ to us on occasion, and a constant reminder why a dog is a man’s best friend.”
We could never replace Gretchen, but we now have a two-year-old red lab named Whiskey (pictured here). She is a wonderful dog: happy, playful, a swimmer and smart. Whiskey can carry The New York Times to our doorstep (when we subscribe during the wintertime). Her hips had been a concern, but her mobility remains excellent, the vet said in a checkup this month.
The relationship between dogs and humans has been documented for many thousands of years. I’m a big fan of the Dutch masters’ paintings of dogs — sitting beside their “master” or pulling a fowl off the dinner table when the guests are looking the other way. Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum houses some of them.
Here’s a video of a soldier coming home from Afghanistan to his dog. It’s very heartwarming:
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