Saying Goodbye To ‘Ulysses’ Our 12.5 Year Old Golden Retriever.
.by Anura Guruge
March 11, 2011 to September 16, 2013.
He was one heck of a dog. A golden’s golden; the quintessential ‘everybody loves me and I love everybody’, no-care-in-the-world, tail wagging, tongue lolling, friendly as can be ‘show’ golden.
I have had him just as he was turning 8 weeks. The breeder, from whom I had bought two previous goldens, called me up the day he got his last tests, last shots and got a certificate of release from the vet. I drove to Surry, NH, right away to pick him up. I happened to get him in the only (albeit brief) period of my adult life, i.e., since I was 18, when I was encumbered and living by myself. So it was just Ulysses, named after ‘Grant‘, and me in this big house, by the water on Winnipesaukee. As I still do now, I was running six days a week then. Ulysses started running with me the next day though he only managed about 100 yards. I carried him back. But, he ran again that afternoon. Within three months he could do the whole 2.5 mile loop with me, around Varney Point, Gilford, along with the elevation. He loved to run. To be fair he didn’t know any other life. Running with me, in the mornings, was what he did. suffice to say he was one heck of a fit dog, especially as I would also walk him in the evenings and take him swimming. He ran with me, without fail, until I he was 10. Then Deanna started walking him and he became Deanna’s dog.
All that running did him well. He never had any hip problems. Even yesterday, when he came with us to the dump and was slowly walking around, people were admiring him and were hard pressed to believe that he was 12.5 years old. Yesterday we knew.
I had known for about 3 weeks. Deanna did not, understandably, want to let go and he was still happy though in discomfort and rapidly losing strength. His appetite, and he always took after me, was healthy till the very end. He had two slices of cheese and as a treat macaroni and cheese right before the end. He associated me with food and treats. If I was in the kitchen he assumed he would get a treat. So even this morning, though we tried to stop him, when he saw me in the kitchen, he got up, painfully, and ambled over, tail slowly wagging, waiting for a treat. I gave him more cheese than I normally do. The macaroni cheese, left over from Devanee, was a bonus. Over the last three weeks he had trouble dealing with rawhide treats or anything too hard. So I would give him soft treats while Maya had the rawhide and pig’s ears.
We were ‘lucky’. The Pembroke Animal Hospital, our new vet, yet again did us proud and impressed us no end (and I will write about that later). They sent an OUTSTANDING vet, Dr. Donna Peck, for a house call! That was good. We wanted Ulysses to be at home. We did not want to drag him to a vet’s office. She was amazing. We really lucked out. She spent over an hour with us, seated on the floor, with Ulysses. She assured us that we were doing the right thing. This morning he couldn’t stand up to begin with, though he overcame that once the pain medication we were giving him kicked in. But, he was not doing well. He had a lot of growths and his spine was bothering him though he never cried.
He had a good life. He was a happy dog. No cares in the world. He knew that he would be fed (and get treats from me) and that somebody would walk him whenever he wanted to go out. I think he missed his runs. He would watch me going running with Maya. He didn’t try to come though a few times he would trot with me — just like the old days.
He was an elegant, stately trotter. Just like a show horse. No running. He would trot. It was very precise.
We will miss him. Before I met Deanna I used to say that he, indubitably, was the best blonde I had ever had. He was my fourth golden.
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