I know I normally speak about food, but this is a different type of food, primary food. Without love in our lives, we tend to use food as a crutch. I really hope you continue to embrace love and relationships and then healthy eating will follow.
Last weekend my family had the unpleasant and heartbreaking experience of putting our 9 year old golden retriever, Bailey, to sleep. Bailey was our second golden retriever as a family. A few months after, Goldie our first Golden Retriever, passed on we decided to bring another dog into our lives. I took on the responsibility to find a golden retriever puppy for our family. I had two younger siblings at the time who had loved Goldie and I really couldn’t think of living without a dog. I did research, spoke with breeders, and eventually Bailey became a part of our family.
So when you see someone who you love going through pain, you just want to take that pain away. That day, Bailey had experienced two strokes from her growing tumor on her sinuses, the first leaving her blind and the second leaving her in bad shape. At that point you just wish they would be able to talk, tell you that they are in so much pain and that you’re doing the right thing. We stayed around her all day until her final breaths. The vet assured us that we made the right decision, however it didn’t make it feel any better. She told us that the strokes had signified that the tumor had entered her brain and that she was in pain, even though she seemed not to be. “That’s golden retrievers for you,” she told us. “They never show pain and just keep smiling.”
Death is always surreal to me. One minute they are there and the next they’re gone. It’s hard to grasp and it doesn’t hit me until I’m looking for them, then coming to the realization that they aren’t there. I hugged my husband and family constantly that night and then cuddled with my dog Layla, who I knew felt the loss too.
The next morning, I had planned a relaxing day at the beach with my husband until it was shattered by a phone call from my brother letting me know that my sister’s 5 month old black lab mix had escaped the yard. We jumped in the car and headed over, searching the entire neighborhood, hanging flyers, speaking with neighbors, calling the police, and contacting every shelter in the area. Eight hours later, we still didn’t have him, missing him by mere minutes at one point.
I’m not sure if this was Bailey’s divine way of keeping our minds off of her passing, but, it worked. Over the four days that Kona went missing, I went all out in a desperate attempt to not lose another dog. I couldn’t save Bailey, but I was saving Kona. Flyers went up on telephone poles, flyers went into every mailbox in the neighborhood (I wouldn’t recommend doing that in front of your mailman), pictures and information went up on every social media site there was (Facebook groups, twitter, Patch), and I spoke with anyone I saw walking around. I also posted a link on Lost My Doggie who e-mails and faxes your dog’s information to every shelter and vet in the area. I posted information everyday on various group sites including the SPCA, Associated Humane Society, Bob the Weatherman Burger, Lost Dogs NJ, Patch, a local dog walker’s site, not to mention my profile page.
I’m not a huge fan of social media, but I was amazed at the outpouring of support. Posting everyday on these groups allowed Kona’s information to circulate to over 400 people. Through my research, a Maine tracking service told me that “80% of dogs are found by a poster.” So more posters went up.
We hung posters everywhere from Dunkin Donuts, PetCo, PetSmart, Chipolte, and our favorite pizza place. I also called every business around the area including the mall, the new development, the school. We branched out within a couple of miles from our home and contacted local businesses.
We got tons of calls and updates on social media and we followed up with every clue. When we heard he may have been spotted a couple of towns away from us, we went there and hung up posters, hoping it wasn’t true. When we received a call about a closer spotting, we headed over within minutes (timing is everything). We then received another spotting minutes later. It seemed I had missed him by 5 minutes again. We traveled with treats, wet dog food, and even grilled bacon in attempt to bring him home.
Four days later of constant searching, day and night, we got a call that he had been seen two major streets away, in someone’s backyard that just happened to be located in dense woods. My sister went over there and sat, staring at an open can of dog food, hoping he would come. When I came, I realized we needed to trap him. If he kept running, our chances of bringing him home would be slim. So, with the help of the SPCA, the Associated Humane Society, and the lovely residents of the house, I rented a trap. It was then that we saw him in the woods, staring right back at us. It was the first time in four days that I saw him moving instead of on a picture. My heart jumped. It was him. Unfortunately, he got spooked and ran, but we were hopeful that this would be it. We set the trap and crossed our fingers.
Later that night, my dad and brother headed over. They sat in their car, hoping the stillness would bring him out. It did. He walked around their car. Afraid of scaring him away, they called me for back up. He had gone back into the woods when we got there 15 minutes later. I called his name in the dark and then had my dad bring Layla out. Kona loved Layla and I could only hope that he would smell her.
Five seconds after my brother said he heard something in the woods, I heard my dad calling my name in a hushed but urgent way. He had Layla in the driveway with the leash and Kona was jumping around her. I slowly walked up and he ran, but not far. Layla was too tempting. A minute later he came back and I grabbed his collar. Relief flooded through me. We had found him. Four harrowing days later, we didn’t have to go through losing another dog. Our persistance had payed off and he was worth it.
Even though this four day ordeal of being my own version of Ace Ventura was difficult, daunting, and full of tears, it made me remember how good it feels to fight for something that you believe in and for someone you love. It also made me remember that we all need a purpose in life and a purpose for each day. My purpose for the last few days was to find Kona, but today my purpose was to be productive and share love. When we feel good inside, we want to continue to feel good, and then we eat good. It seems like a stretch, but I promise you it’s not!