Tonight we said our goodbyes to our sweet bear of a dog, Goliath.
A little less than two years ago, we brought home a senior dog from the Toronto Humane Society – a dog with arthritic issues, and reports of reactivity. He had been a stray found by Hillside Kennels Animal Control. Then he was adopted out from the Toronto Humane Society and later returned there. That’s how we found him.
We were wary of each other at first. My wife and I, not totally sure if we could manage those issues, but wanting desperately to make up for his fragmented past. Him, not fully understanding what was happening. But that first night when I crawled into bed, he hopped in too. Without any prompting, he nestled up against me and fell into a relieved kind of sleep. From then on, we were bonded.
In our short time with him, the walls he’d built up melted away, and we got to know him for the dog he wanted to be. He was a faithful companion, following me wherever I went, sleeping behind my chair when I worked late, beside me in bed, or just lying on the floor wherever I sat. He was a big sweetheart, cuddling with us on the couch, letting Heather smother him in kisses. He was a caregiver, nudging me when I worked long hours to remind me to go to bed, coming to give us all of his love when we were down. He gave us so much – love, affection and warmth. I can’t convey how unconditional that love was. He gave us everything that he had.
He wasn’t just a dog – he was my dog. He was a me dog. It felt like someone had taken a little piece of me, and rolled it up into a dog, and we were always meant to be together. We just fit – he was everything I ever wanted in a dog, or in a friend. And I hope I was that to him too. I hope he knew this was his home, from day one. I hope he knew every time I left, I was coming back. That every time we got in the car, it was to go somewhere awesome. I hope he knew that everything we did was to keep him safe, to help him be healthy, and happy. I hope he understood that I loved him totally.
His health in decline, his issues degenerative and incurable, we made the decision not to chase diagnostic answers that we could never get. We managed his pain as best we could. We opted to make the short time with us as enjoyable as possible. And last week we had to make the most heart-breaking decision that he was getting beyond our ability to keep him comfortable. We gave him the final days we thought he’d want – full of affection and attention. We took him to his favourite place and let him just be outside, unleashed. We let him swim, and sleep, and cuddle. We fed him treats, steak, sausage and cheese. And a little bit of Eggs Benedict.
And tonight, we sat on the lawn as the sun drifted out of the sky, and let him eat cheeseburgers and soft-serve ice cream. And then we sent him off to sleep, off to the Rainbow Bridge.
Rest in peace, my bear.