Picture the humorous sight of a Golden Retriever with short, little Corgi legs and you have a glimpse of our precious Tucker, who died February 21, 2009 at age 16 1/2. Tucker was truly a ray of sunshine in our lives. She was always there to greet us at the door with her big brown trusting eyes, an enthusiastic wag of her tail, and a bark of elation as if we were returning from a long journey instead of an hour or two away from home. Little did she know that we were as eager to see her as she was to see us.

I will always remember Tucker for being very content to snuggle under the blankets with me on countless cold winter nights; and the humorous site of only a stray ear or cold nose peeking from under warm covers. I will remember her excitement in anticipation of our long daily strolls in the woods near our home. And her love of chasing rabbits by leaps and bounds in our rural backyard – and she didn’t let her short legs slow her down… I believe the term is “built low to the ground for speed.”

Tucker was so much more to us than just a pet; she was a beloved and precious family member and companion whose death has left us heartbroken. One of her favorite pastimes was indulging in a belly-up wiggle in the grass during a frequent fit of silliness that left us laughing every single time. I can still smell her sweet lingering scent, and feel the happy warmth of her presence all around. We will never-ever forget our little golden girl, and though our hearts ache today, we eagerly anticipate a time of God’s choosing when we will see her running on strong legs to greet us with those big beautiful, soulful eyes and her silly, happy smile.

My Golden Girl (John Pete)

Big beautiful brown, trusting eyes …
Soft flowing golden curls ….
Kind, gentle, knowing soul…
My beautiful, beloved Golden Girl

What is the deep love and spiritual connection we develop with our pets? Is it because they are so eager to love and please their human companions? Is it the laughter and joy they bring into our lives? Is it because they often greet us with the same unbridled enthusiasm whether we are absent for a half-hour or for a day? Is it the unwavering and non-judgmental loyalty? Is it the desire humans and pet companions have to nurture another? Yes, it is all of the above.

Each year, millions of people bring pet companions into their lives and households, while others simply acquire domestic animals. We who acquire them decide the role they will play in our lives and our homes, and to deny them the love and companionship they are so eager to share with us is unconscionable. Anyone who has seen an animal cower in fear or rejoice at the slightest attention knows that animals experience very real emotions.

Simply put, if you cannot devote hours each day as a caring companion and caregiver to a pet (medical care, grooming, exercise, feeding, etc.), please buy goldfish if you must have a pet. If security and protection is your first consideration, get an alarm system instead of sentencing a pet to a life of outdoor isolation. And if you work a full-time job but still want a pet, you must consider taking on the responsibility of two-pets who can keep each other company while you are away all day. You must consider what you will do when you travel and the implications of such things as the inevitable kennel cough when boarding animals. And “happy hour” with and frequent nights out with friends are a thing of the past. Think of it as having a child at home waiting for you, relying on you, and trusting you will be there for them.

Being a pet owner is a huge commitment that will last for years and incur great ongoing financial costs. And at the end of your pet’s life, you will need to be there to say a very painful goodbye to a precious family member. But the rewards often continue to surprise even experienced pet-owners. And when we lose them and know that, despite the pain of our loss, we would do it all over again; we can find comfort in the fact that we had the privilege of being their companion.

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John Pete

John Pete is a spiritual writer, founder of Daily Grief Quotes on Facebook, and was a Certified Grief Counselor for over 10-years . He has appeared on the "Grieving The Healing Heart" radio program and is published in the 2011 books, "Open To Hope, Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss," "Grieving the Sudden Death of a Loved One" (2012, DVD), and Grief Diaries - Through the Eyes of Men (2016, book). John Pete is online at https://facebook.com/dailygriefquotes.

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