Charlie Bear here with a big guy this time! Check out what he has to say (his Mom, Hillari, typed it for him):
My new family never knew what my former caretakers called me. I liked the new name Mom gave me to go with my new life: Nathan. She told me she chose it for me because it was a name for someone very brave and bold.
Even if I wasn’t feeling bold, I tried to act brave the day I met Mom. You see, I’d been to these ‘adoption events’ before. Nobody ever picked me. The rescue folks at Central California Labrador Retriever Rescue called me ‘unadoptable.’ Oh, not because of my behavior. My foster mother described me as ‘a perfect gentleman.’ But I had a bit of an image problem. My muzzle was more gray than chocolate, I was painfully thin and my coat was dull and dry. People looked right past me to the young guys, the pretty pups. No one seemed to want a grizzled veteran like me.
Then someone convinced Mom to drive over one hundred miles to meet me. We took a walk together in the park. I was polite, on my best behavior but I didn’t act needy. You know, the way a guy’s supposed to act on a first date. And whaddya know, it worked! The next thing I knew, we were in the car and on the way to what I prayed would be my ‘forever’ home. We even stopped for a hamburger picnic on the way. I was head-over-paws in love. I kept my chin on the armrest between the front seats the whole way home so Mom could rest her hand on my head, just so she would know how very, very sure I was that she was ‘the one.’
That was the beginning of the eighteen months that cast a reflection of joy over my entire life, no matter what it had been before. I had a younger Labrador brother, but best of all, I adopted a kitty grandson. Edward was a rescue kid, too, so we were very special friends. He liked to follow me around or nap between my front paws. We even wrestled, just a little bit, very gently. From the sound of her laughter, Mom enjoyed it as much as Edward and I did. Mom got us dogs a wading pool (I never could convince Edward to try it) and some of my fondest memories are of long summer nights in the backyard, Mom grilling something drool-worthy while I lounged in the pool or rolled myself dry on the wisteria-petaled grass.
I even got the chance to repay Mom, by protecting her from a scary man. You see, he came up to us while we were working in the garden. Actually, Mom was working, I was supervising. He demanded money from her. Then he took a step too close, and I put myself between them. I didn’t yell or get aggressive, but I did give him a very stern look and just a bit of a growl to tell him I would not allow anyone to frighten or harm my mom. He believed me, smart man, and left in a hurry. Mom hugged me and praised me to the skies. Even the policeman who visited us was impressed.
Me? I took it all in stride. When you’re called ‘Nathan’ you just act that way, bold and brave.
After a while, the pain and stiffness I’d been ignoring caught up with me. All the heating pads and pills couldn’t help. Mom took me back to the doctor, and when she saw the x-rays she started to cry.
“So that’s why he never wagged his tail. He couldn’t. But I know he’s happy,” she told my doctor. “His eyes sparkle and he’s always smiling.”
“Yes, I can tell he’s a happy dog,” the doctor agreed. “He’s not letting anything get him down.”
When the end came, I could still be brave and bold because I knew I could trust Mom. As the doctor gave me the injection and the shackles of pain fell away, I felt Mom’s gentle fingers stroking my ears just the way I loved. I filled my nostrils one last time with her beloved scent. I knew she was sending me to be with the only One who could love me more than she did.
I wish I could tell everyone how great a life I had with Mom. Even though it was only eighteen months in human time, it was a lifetime to me. Mom told me she didn’t regret for a moment adopting an older—well, okay, senior—dog. She told me she got more from me than she felt she could give back. I tried to tell her every day how grateful I was for the second chance to love and be loved.
Thanks again, Mom.
Written for Nathan by Hillari Delgado
* * *
Wow. Charlie Bear here with Mom Peep wiping tears from her eyes. A very good friend told Mom something after big dog Rex went over the rainbow bridge, like Nathan did. The friend said there’s a reason why dogs only live a short time. It’s because it gives people a chance to have many, many of them in their lives. Mom Peep thought that was a cool way to look at it and it gave her some comfort.
I think not only was Nathan brave, but Hillari was, too. Taking in an older dog means people won’t have as long with them and they must be ready for that. Hillari was very, very brave.
Wiggles to you up over the rainbow bridge, Nathan,