Why do they say “man’s best friend?” Surely, women and children are also succeptible to a dog’s unconditional love and bountiful affection. For me, Hickory, a golden retriever, was truly one of my dearest friends and companions for almost 15 years.
Hickory helped me raise my children. Hickory taught me the meaning of unconditional love. Hickory was so cherished that he was subject to the rules of ‘joint custody’ after my divorce, shuttling between my home and my ex’s. Hickory loved peanut butter and was afraid of thunder storms . . . that is, until he became deaf and no longer could hear them.
This kind being taught me about elder care. For the last 2 years, he lived solely at my house, always by my side. I lifted him when his frail legs could not support him. I supported him up and down the ramp that enabled him to navigate stairs. I guided him to food when he couldn’t find it anymore, not even with his sense of smell.
And I held him, whispering in his ear when the vet gave him the injection that led him to the Rainbow Bridge. Though his absence pains me, I remember with love his steady example of patience, joy, and presence. I hold Hickory, always, in my heart with gratitude.