By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal
“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”
“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
“If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.”
Two Friday evenings ago, I received a phone call from my dad. “Leslie,” he said, “I think Max is dying on me.”
He’d called his veterinarian in Corinth, but he could not drive to Dad’s house until the clinic closed.
I told Dad I’d call a good friend and retired vet, but she was unable to answer her cell.
In the short in-between time, Dad called me back.
“It’s too late,” he said. “Max is gone.”
Max was a 10-year-old golden retriever who had been my father’s sole living companion since his wife, my mother died Nov. 7, 2011.
Before Mom’s death, Max had kept both parents company. And happy. It had been so since he first came to live with them.
After the death of my parents’ beloved Sam, another golden retriever, there would be no talk of another pet because there could be no replacement for Sam.
My sister and I thought briefly about surprising our folks with a puppy, but our dad seemed oh-so-serious with his no-more-dogs pronouncement. So we let it be.
Then one Sunday morning several years later, Dad began to peruse the classified ads, looking specifically for golden retriever puppies.
He was ready to love another four-legged, furry-faced friend. Mom? Ready or not, she went along.
We finally found a litter of goldens just up the road a bit from my sister’s home in Huntsville, so Dad and I made the trip one day during the week to check out these Alabama pups.
I remember walking up a small hill to a wooden-fence enclosure under an abundance of pine trees. Dad and I waited as the owners of the puppies opened a wooden gate.
Then we watched with great joy as a considerable cadre of canines bounded our way and bounced around our feet, Dad’s and mine.
It was Dad’s decision, so I just smiled down at the puppies. Not wasting much time, Dad reached down and picked up one of the litter. He smiled. His choice had been made.
The puppy slept in my arms on the back seat most of the two-hour drive back to Corinth. Thankfully, there was an immediate love connection between Max and Mom. He was, after all, a gift to our parents on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary.
He was a gentle giant of a dog, and a good friend to humans and canines alike.
He is missed, especially by Dad.
But, by now, Max has likely met up with Mom.
What a glorious and golden reunion.