Saturday, May 08, 2004

The rest of Good Old Boy's story

Good Old Boy hardly budged all night. Today, he's been more alert. He's even deposited his massive head on my knee for rubs. He is such a sweetheart.

Here's the piece I wrote about him in September, with his story:

Grace in a golden retriever

I've had Good Old Boy, a golden retriever. for over a year. I'm not certain how old he is---I 'inherited' him from a woman who died. Her family members didn't want to take him and left him, alone and sad, in her back yard.

I took him to the vet as soon as I retrieved him from the soggy yard (we had been having daily deluges of rain). The vet wasn't sure how old GOB was, but gave me an estimate of eight, which I knew to be a conservative estimate, and the dog was probably more like 10. The vet was afraid I'd decide to have GOB put down if I thought he was too old, for GOB had heartworms. GOB survived the heartworm treatment and settled right down to life in my household.

GOB had a little thing on his shoulder, that was at first thought to be a cyst from a tick bite. I kept cleaning the sore and watching it grow bigger. It started weeping fluid. I took GOB back to the vet, and they agreed with me, the thing had to be taken off. The vet performed surgery to remove it. It was cancerous.

I called the next day about picking him up from the clinic, and was told it would be better if GOB spent another day and night there. He was recovering slowly from the anesthetic, and they wanted to keep an eye on him.

I called back the next day. The assistant said I could pick up GOB that afternoon, but he was still recovering slowly. They had given him a shot to perk him up, but he still wasn't getting to his feet. They thought he might do better at home, off the slick tile floor of the clinic.

When I went to get GOB, the vet reiterated this information, but I could see the worry in his eyes. GOB might not ever get back to his feet.

I pulled my car as near the side door as I could, so the vet wouldn't have to carry him so far, but was still 15 yards or so away. The vet staggered out with all 70 pounds of GOB in his arms and sat the dog down gently on the ground. Standing by the car, I called GOB's name. He didn't hear me--he's almost deaf. I called a bit louder, and he heard me.

GOB's head came up and scanned the area. He saw me. With deliberate effort, he drew his four limbs underneath himself and pulled himself to his feet. He had a long, Frankensteinlike series of stitches across one shoulder. Never taking his eyes off me, he started a loping, staggering, sideways run straight to me. The vet's jaw dropped.

GOB nuzzled my hand, went to pee, nuzzled my hand again, went to pee again, came back. I opened the back door of the car for him. The vet tried to help him, but GOB crawled in all by himself before the vet could get his hands around him to lift him into the car.

I have often reflected on that vision of GOB loping toward me.

This is like God's grace. Rushing toward me, to meet me where I am. Rejoicing. Loving me unconditionally and unreservedly, though I know, so undeservedly.

It's humbling.

Every time GOB leans against my legs--his method of making me stop whatever I'm doing and pet him--and looks up at me with those soft brown eyes, I am reminded of God's grace.

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