By Theresa Blume
Dec. 31 has been bittersweet for me since my father’s death five years ago. New Year’s Eve is also the anniversary of my first date with my husband over 30 years ago.
A few weeks ago, Dec. 29 became significant when we had to put our family dog to sleep. So I dedicate this column to Comet, who now lies at my father’s feet.
When my daughter was a young teen, she started asking for a dog every day, not just any dog but a golden retriever. Every day she squeezed getting a dog into any conversation.
For instance, I might tell her to put a coat on if it was cold out, and she would say, “I would if I was taking my dog for a walk.”
Finally, she wore me down because I reasoned that a dog would be good protection for her on her walks. I had never owned a golden retriever before, but I was soon to find out why they are one of the most popular breeds.
We got Comet as a young pup, straight from the litter. He was the biggest one and the friendliest, following us around in the pen. A video on raising puppies said having a small cage for him to sleep in should be ready when we got home. We picked up a small bag of puppy chow on the way and blindly entered the life of Comet.
The first thing he did when we brought him home was pee on the carpet. Then he cried all night in the cage until my daughter took him out and slept on the couch with him. He never slept in the cage again, but he was bonded for life with my daughter from that moment forward.
I told Comet that he was my daughter’s protector, but I never dreamed how seriously he would take his job. He made himself her personal guardian, constant companion, and best friend.
He could carry a fresh egg without breaking it. Yet, we learned from cleaning his pen outside where missing household items like socks, teddy bears, dog toys, and plastic utensils had met their end.
During the last few months of his life, my daughter came home from work and cleaned his exposed tumor, giving him the compassion and loyalty that he had always given her. When she went to work, he lay by the door with a sad, tired look until I gently helped him onto my daughter’s bed. When she got home, he came back to life. He put that big smile on his face and jumped around like a puppy again.
On Dec. 29 my daughter held Comet in the vet’s office, whispering what a good boy he was while he went to sleep for one last time. I sat crying in the lobby while she bravely stayed with him, retiring Comet with honor as he slept peacefully in the arms of the one he most loved on Earth.