Saturday, February 12, 2011


I had a dog for many years that was as high maintenance as they come.  A husky-shepherd mix I had found as a stray puppy when I was in college, she was a beautiful dog and I loved her dearly, but she was not an easy keeper.  For starters, she was a runner.  Given the opportunity, she would take off chasing rabbits and squirrels, totally disregarding my commands to “come”, and sometimes would not be seen for days at a time.  She was also nervous around kids and couldn’t be entirely trusted around them, having been known to bite when cornered or feeling uncomfortable.  In her older age, she developed incontinence, had teeth problems and eventually succumbed to cancer at the ripe old age of 16.  The day my husband and I had to have her put down at the vet’s office, we cried our eyes out while we said good-bye to her, and then came home feeling a huge sense of relief that our years of dog ownership were over.  I realized that I was just not a dog person.

Or so I thought.  For 6 years, I told myself and my kids that we were cat people (and eventually horse people, goat people, chicken people...) but we weren’t dog people and we weren't going to get a dog even though we now lived on a farm and had plenty of room.  That was until I met a few really nice Golden Retrievers.  Our neighbors had an older Golden that would come visit us now and then, and I thought she was the sweetest thing I’d ever met.  Then Megan’s fourth grade teacher had a couple of Goldens that she brought to class and I was so impressed with their calm, loving behavior that I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t like dogs – I’d just had the wrong breed all those years.  So, I decided maybe it was time for us to try to adopt an older Golden Retriever to come live on the farm with us.

We started out by trying to adopt through the Golden Retriever Rescue and went through the initial application process, but progress was slow and each time we found a dog that seemed like it might be a good match, it was adopted by someone else before we were able to meet it.  Feeling a little impatient now that I had decided it would be nice to have a companion around the farm while everyone else was at school and work during the day, I placed a “wanted” ad on Craig’s List.  Within a few days, I had been contacted by a woman in Denver who thought our home sounded like it might be a good one for her 6 year old Golden, Lucy.

Lucy had been living with Deb and another older Golden her whole life, but the older dog had recently died, Deb worked full time, and Lucy was spending her days alone, indoors, gaining weight and becoming depressed.  As much as Deb loved her, she knew this wasn’t the best life for Lucy and when she saw my ad stating that we were looking for a dog to join our family farm, she thought this might be a better life for her girl.  We arranged to meet and see if it was a good fit.

When we first saw Lucy, we were struck by how big she was.  She was a tall dog with big bone structure, but she was also extremely heavy.  She weighed over 95 pounds and was almost as wide as she was tall. But she was super sweet and well behaved and so we decided to give it a try for a week before making a final decision.  I was as concerned about whether or not she would fit in with our family and all of our animals as I was with Deb’s comfort in giving her up.  But after a week, a good grooming and some quality time together, we all decided this was a great match and that Briar Gate Farm would be Lucy’s home from now on.  Deb seemed really comfortable with the idea and at peace about giving Lucy up to what she could tell would be a happier, healthier life for her.  It was truly a gesture of love that she was able to let go and give up such a great dog.

It didn’t take long before Lucy had settled in on the farm and was as bonded to us as if she had lived here her whole life. And just by increasing her activity level and being outdoors with us so much, the pounds started melting away.  Within 6 months, she was down to almost 70 pounds and looking great.  We’ve kept in touch with Deb, sending her progress reports, pictures and having her come for occasional visits, and she even took Lucy for a few weeks while we were on summer vacation one year.  But we all agree that Lucy is better off in her new life with us – and I can say that I really AM a dog person after all!

Life Lesson:  Sometimes Loving Means Letting Go

1 comment:

Mindy said...

These Life Lessons are AWESOME.