This is George. He died 5-10-10 and I still miss him. I’ve lived with lots of dogs during my lifetime, but George was THE ONE. I always said that no one would look at me the way George looked at me. We rescued him when he was six months old – sort of. He had been rescued by a young man who saw him being abused. When the young man grabbed him away from his abusers, George had cigarette burns all over his body and his fur had fallen out in patches from the stress. He also had a wound on his belly that their vet said was probably caused by being beaten with a chain. So the young man brought him home to his mother’s house, but she didn’t really want him. She worked 16 hour shifts and kept George in a crate the whole time she was away. When the neighbors complained about his barking, she put a shock collar on him.
My husband and I had adopted Emily, a Chocolate Lab/German Shepherd mix the year before. Emily was well-trained and ready for a companion. My husband had grown up with a “big, dumb, male dog” named Bozo and we were looking for something similar. After months of searching, I stopped into our vet’s office one morning on my way to the grocery store and told them what we were looking for using my husband’s words. When I returned home from shopping, there was a message on my answering machine. The vet’s wife, Beth, said that I wasn’t going to believe it, but just after I left a woman came in asking if she knew anyone wanting a ‘big, dumb dog”! Fate. Destiny. Divine intervention. Whatever you want to call it, we knew he was to be ours.
We arranged to meet him and he was fierce towards my husband and son (14) and was sweet towards me and my daughter (10). With some trepidation on my husband’s part, we adopted him and took him home. He was a big (already at 6 months old), gangly, sad and scared puppy. We believed we could love him back to health.
His fur had already started to grow back at that point and with the help of our vet, the right food and lots of love, George grew. And grew. And grew. All the way up to about 90 pounds. It took us years (literally. 3 years!!) to get him to speak – probably because he was afraid to bark. Stupid shock collars! And it took him even longer to learn how to back out of a corner or tight spot. Seriously. He didn’t have a reverse. Silly dog.
Fast forward. George lived a good life. Near the end, he developed some serious hip issues and we tried our best to keep him pain free, but he eventually had had enough. Our vet kept telling us that when he didn’t eat, became incontinent and didn’t thump his tail when one of us came home, it was time. All three things happened on the same day. That was a Friday and we made the very hard decision to euthanize George that Monday. That was the hardest weekend of my life. We cried all weekend. My husband built his coffin. And we loved him. Oh, how we loved him. I would just lay with him on the floor and pet him and tell him over and over how much we appreciated his loyalty and his love.
His grave is out in our woods, right next to Emily. His full name was George Bailey I’ll love you til the day I die. And that’s true. My love for George has not changed or diminished in any way.
How about you? Who do you still miss?
Copyright 2014 Lisa B. Wolfe, Translating Grief, LLC