To a golden retriever

To them, she was as perfect as a dog could possibly be
golden retriever
Photo: G. Sawyer / cc 2.0.

As golden retrievers go she was utterly typical—even stereotypical. She lived in a middle-class suburban neighborhood: tree-lined streets, neatly clipped lawns, fenced backyards. She was a good-looking, athletic, robustly built dog, and while she wasn’t a hunter I have no doubt that given the right opportunities she would have made a splendid one. And I fancy that she gazed with something like longing at the flocks of mallards and Canada geese that frequently flew over, enroute to the nearby river.

She held no titles; she achieved nothing worthy of the public record. Her distinction was all in the hearts of her family, and therefore incalculable. To them, she was as perfect as a dog could possibly be.

In other words, she was pretty much as the same as 99.9 percent of all golden retrievers. I’d like to tell you a little about her—and about the two girls she helped raise.


The girls were toddlers when Ruby joined the family as a bright-eyed pup. Young women now, they can’t ever remember being without her. The golden retriever named for her luxurious mahogany coat was as constant a presence in their lives as their mother and father. She’d been their playmate, romping and chasing tennis balls in the backyard, sometimes barking out of sheer exuberance; she’d been their companion on their early morning paper route, insistently nudging them awake with her soft but cold-nosed muzzle when they ached for a few more minutes of sleep. She rode with them in the car on family trips, sticking her lovely head out the window to drink in the breeze, an expression of dreamily blissful contentment on her face.

But most of all, Ruby was simply there for them, letting them wrap their arms around her, sink their fingers in her soft fur, and press their cheeks against
her side—feeling her breathe, smelling her warm familiar smell. Whether they wanted to share their joys, ease their sorrows, or just display affection, it made no difference. Ruby was a source of comfort and reassurance, ebullient and empathetic in equal measure. The girls loved her, unconditionally and unreservedly; she loved them back the same way.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but as I watched them grow into the beautiful, confident, accomplished women they are today—and I mean the kind of beauty that radiates from the inside out—it occurred to me that Ruby deserved part of the credit. Of course, they learned the lessons in responsibility that taking care of any dog teaches (any animal, for that matter). But it was hard not to think that, in a larger sense, the people they became owes something to Ruby’s example. Loyalty, generosity of spirit, equanimity; responsiveness to the needs of others and willingness to give without expectation of return; the desire to make the most of every opportunity and the humility to be grateful for the blessings that come your way: However they girls came to possess these qualities, the company of a certain golden retriever during the formative years of their lives sure didn’t hurt.

Ruby lived to a ripe old age and, while it was a sad day when she died (the girls’ father took it hardest of all), she seemed to know it was time. With one of the girls in college and the other soon to go, it was almost as if she understood that her work was done—that there was nothing more she needed to show them, no more wisdom she needed to impart.

You raised them well, old girl. You did yourself proud. Here’s to you—and to all the other golden retrievers the world has never heard of, but who’ve enriched our lives beyond measure.

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Comments

What a glorious dog and lovely writing. Thank you.

Thank you for your beautiful story. The light of my life is my Golden, Lexie. She's closing in on 9 and I'll am gathering the strength to face the moment when I have to say goodbye. These wonderful creatures are truly a blessing from God.

Ruby sounds almost like my Maggie. She was loving and caring of my sick husband. Maggie lived until after he died. She even mourned his death and lost most of her enthusiasm afterwards. Such a beautiful friend.

This brings tears to one's eyes. Anyone who has been lucky enough to share their lives with a dig (any dog) can relate to your wonderful words. Well done. Very much appreciated. Now, I will leave to fix my eye makeup!

This is why we got a golden as a puppy and feel so much in love with him that when 2 Holden girls, mother and daughter became adoptable after being rescued from a Amish puppy mill we didn't hesitate. Today, 3 years later they all 3 enrich our golden years with love, laughter happy days! Good Bless the Golden Retrievers.

Reading this was pure heartache, but good in a sense. Had to put our Holly down this past August...she certainly enriched our lives for sure.

We have been blessed with such a girl. Her name is Autumn and right now we are lucky to still have her in our lives. She's 10 years old now and been a big part of our lives. Goldens are such awesome beings, smart, protective, but most of all loving and loyal.

What an awesome story and tribute to your beautiful dog. I don’t even like using the word dog because they are more like a being than just a dog Too bad more people don’t pay attention to the lessons that our fur babies teach us. The world would be a better place if animals good teach people how to behave. Just because you’re not here on earth, doesn’t mean you’re not still with your family. You will be watching over them until the day that they can cross over the rainbow bridge to meet you again. R. I. P. Ruby. You certainly earned your angel wings!

Thank you for giving us this tribute to Ruby. Golden’s are without a doubt #1 in my heart. Until this last May 1st, 2019, I was never without one, (at the best time there were 3), in our home. It’d been 19 years with three gorgeous Golden’s, in my life from 8/2000 till my world stopped 5/1/2019. Without a single warning my third, Sophia, stopped breathing in her sleep. She was more than “just a dog”. They all were but Sophia was different, she personally got me through the hardest years of my life. (I’m 59 last month), and her death was by far the hardest loss of anyone’s I’ve ever experienced in my life. My marriage was long over, my daughter grown and gone with her own family, and nobody on this earth knew how much I loved, needed, and depended on Sophia, but myself and Sophia. She and I were inseparable as friends of long ago were too busy, family was too busy, but Sophia was my constant in my everyday life 24/7. We were never apart overnight once in her nearly 10 years with me. People complained that I would rather stay home with Sophia than spend time out somewhere. They were right. She was my “home”, my only home as I’ve known it 7 of her 10 years. She was my soul mate without a doubt. The early morning she stopped breathing in her sleep at 3:30 a.m. was like the time and date my world stopped. I was certain people from miles around could hear me screaming out my back door for someone, God, if there is one, to please give her back to me!! I begged for what seemed forever. Afterall there was no warning. Nothing! Only that I knew she was nearing that 10-12 average lifespan of years we typically have with them. I cried rivers for her and for me and her, but she was gone. I am now glad that she went peacefully and here with me while I laid next to her and spoke to her for hours after her breath had ceased. It was too early to call anyone for help moving her so I stroked her fur, cried on her fur and hugged and kissed her sweet face I loved dearly. She looked like she was sleeping. There was nothing unusual. Nothing scary. Nothing painful except her being gone. Gone in the sense that her beautiful heart had stopped beating and her precious soul had left her body for somewhere more befitting of her. I hope to be wherever dogs go one day. I have three very special ones together there now and just recently a friend decided it was time for me to have another and brought me a 19 month old Golden they’d searched the internet for. I wasn’t ready. I was still grieving and this pup was full of energy and needed someone better than me I thought. She’s still with me and the thought of not keeping her is much harder than the thought of her being my new best friend. She’s made it into my heart. She’s silly and goofy in ways I’ve never seen! Maybe she knows I need laughter as much as I need love. She’s giving me both tenfold, and I’m returning it more each day. I named her Star, as there was one bright Star in the shy the night my friend dropped her off not giving me time to say no. So she’s my bright Star, a deep mahogany color like your Ruby was, you loved so much. I had to write a reply, after reading this. Golden’s bring so much into our lives and ask for so little, I can’t imagine being without one, as I had for 6 months after Sophia died. She left a huge hole in my heart nobody can replace but Star is giving herself to me as if we’ve always been together. She’s sleeping next to me now. Thank you again for your tribute to Ruby. I feel it’s for most all Golden’s who only do what they do best. Love us unconditionally and make our lives more worthwhile just having had them. ♥️

Beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. My Cooper has been gone a few years and my heart is still sad. I have had dogs for my whole 61 years but he was the one. I need a new golden but am also afraid he not be the same.

Our stories sre much the same. Though my Packer is still with me at 13. We are hroeing old gracefully together. Lol. I am 72 and still working part time. I dont know who is keeping who hoing strong. We do take our meds together, walks together, and sometimes even bathroom breaks! He is my best friend, clothes critic ((with the eye roll)) if it is not becoming. He knows my moods better than either husband did. I never would have been privileged to love quite the most human canine if i hadnt bit the bullet, drove from Cincinnati to Chicago and back in one day because I wanted "Mr. Purple" so badly. I say go for it....do everything with him, talk and explain things to him.. he will understand agter a few times
Dont talk baby talk .(well sometmes! )Haha...teach him like you would a 10 yr old child....they love to learn as you are the Alpha in his life.
Good luck...
...

What a sweet story.....good girl, Ruby

This story sounds so familiar to our wonderful Sadie who helped raise our two children. I still think of her 14 years after her passing that was hard for me and my spouse. I have many fond memories of her waiting and watching for her kids to return from school. And how she greeted everyone who came to our home

God blessed you with Ruby. I was blessed with a Lab named Lady that I just lost . I must say she was nothing but love to me and I miss her so much it hurts.I keep asking myself why does this separation of love have to happen. Why would God take away such innocence from the people that love them so much. I can only hope we'll see them again.

We all have a Ruby! We have an Amos! There were many goldens before him. He is batteling lung cancer. We are living each day till our last! God Bless you

When the story of humanity is finally written, dogs will be in every chapter.
Very sorry for your loss.

How wonderful and true ... there are no words to convey the meaning and measure of unconditional love the beloved Golden Retrievers bring in to our lives.

A very lovely story of a special golden. My kids grew up with wonderful goldens too. There is nothing like it!❤️

So sweet and so true. All animals that are part of a family, especially dogs. Become a integral mixture in the heart and soul of a family. Unconditionally.loo

I have had the privilege of being owned by 3 Goldens and every one was so special and left an indelible mark on me. I will never be without a Golden in my life.

Beautiful story. She did deserve this tribute.

We have had golden retrievers for years. We also, like you, have two daughters. Daisy, our female, has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Those who know and love Goldens know this is a common illness. When we learned of her diagnosis, we were stunned and knew that we were losing more than a dog. We were losing a very close family member. My youngest daughter is extremely close to Daisy and has taken the news very hard, but she has learned to accept it. A trait I have know doubt she learned from Daisy. When we noticed Daisy slowing down and not eating as usual, we knew something was wrong. However, it lasted for about a week. Since then, Daisy has become more like her old self. She's eating regularly, has more energy, and has even started chasing her balls again. Just this morning, we watched her and our other Golden, Toby, chase each other around the back yard like two kids having fun. It seems as though Daisy has accepted her fate, and has decided to live the remainder of her life living it to the fullest, which is of course, making US happy. Even now, Daisy, in her usual selfless and unselfish way, gives US all the love and pure joy she has to give. When the time comes, she will be missed, but Daisy will always occupy a very, very special place in all our hearts.

She was beautiful inside and out and her dad is justifiably proud.

The reality is this, as mentioned, could apply to any breed of dog, many cats, etc. it is the generous love and ability to play that our pets share with us that helps make us into better people...I love the adage, "be the person your dog/cat thinks you are," as these make it be larger in life than we might otherwise be. Our four legged friends/children bring out the best in all of us...something we need to show more readily, I suspect.

Golden are the best.

Our Goldie was the same as you described Ruby.

Nice commentary about a 4 legged family member

Beautifully written tribute to man's best. Thanks for sharing.

I just put my 15 year old Golden down due to the third return of liver cancer about a month ago. She passed with her head in my lap. Shelby was truly a member of the family, my “doggie daughter”. I miss her greatly, but know another one is waiting to join my life. I could not be truly alive without a Golden to share my life. I truly believe God should match us with a Golden at birth, to share our lives til we pass and can be buried together.

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