Last summer I received a call from a client and head of a local rescue group reaching out to seek geriatric support for a special foster in their care…Enter Colt. This old man was my patient but it became clear that his tentative situation was changing and he needed a full time home. Our house was full of geriatrics and we really didn’t need any more on our plate- I gave myself the “talk”. No, I couldn’t take this dog in- no matter if he had amazing ears and looked at me with deep, dark eyes and had a certain spunk to his old man legs.
But you see, just as much as Colt needed rescued… I needed the opportunity to rescue him. I needed to open up my heart, home and life to a dog that just needed a little extra help and belief. So I asked for one simple birthday gift- let me bring this boy home! It wasn’t easy, growing from 3 to 4 old family members, each with a different food, multiple medications, supplements and quirks. I thanked my old cattle dog for accepting the new addition and also Mark supporting me to do what my heart needed.
Colt came along at a time when my heart needed to open up and make a difference, for all that that means. And I admit, it wasn’t always easy. I had NO idea how much hair a dog really could shed until I met him. But the first time he happily bounded in from the back yard, our eyes locked and I saw love and life…. And I knew it was all worth it and how it needed to be. Sometimes, you just know that. He was just one of those dogs.
This weekend, without warning, Colt had a severe seizure on my bed and never returned to me again. Just an hour before, he snuggled up to me near the couch and happily received a massage and multiple smooches. There was no way to prepare for what happened and the shock of his loss is raw. I have lost many beloved animals and I know it never gets easier. Anticipatory grief or acute loss… saying goodbye leaves us empty, sad, angry, numb… I am all of the above and more.
But no matter what, I would not trade these months with an amazing dog who reminded me coming in to my life that we can make a difference with just one life; and with his death reminding me to truly take each day and make the most of it, to slow down and enjoy those we love.
Thank you Colt for all you taught me- though you joined my life so late in your life, I am thankful for each and every day and I know I will find your hairs for many years to come and find myself eventually smiling instead of crying.
A wise and wonderful friend reminded me that grief is messy… and yes, there is no way around this. To everyone who has experienced his or her own loss, I wish you peace as your heart grieves and heals. We are better for the love and bonds we have shared…