A week ago I had to say goodbye to Denver, my Labrador Retriever. He was a special dog to me and my family. He and I had an amazing bond, forged over the nearly 13 years I had him. Some dogs are just like that. If you’re reading my blog, you probably already know these things and know exactly what it means to have a “heart dog.” In trying to work through my own grief over losing him, I thought it would help to write about some of the things I’m grateful for during Denver’s last days.
First and foremost, I’m grateful Denver could join my husband and me on our fall RV trip. Denver was diagnosed with a 10cm stomach tumor in June. We weren’t sure he would be strong enough to make our trip, which started in early August. But he not only made the trip, he was able to take walks, go on Jeep rides, get in the ocean, and smell lots of smells. He loved to travel in the RV and I am grateful he could come with us.
I’m grateful that all the campgrounds we stay at love dogs. Denver was always welcomed with open arms. He was a wonderful conversation starter (especially when he was in his stroller) and the RV community is very dog friendly! I’m grateful Denver spent the past few months around people who loved dogs.
I’m grateful we were able to spend the last 48 hours completely spoiling Denver. Denver’s last two days were designed especially for him. We found a wonderful dog-friendly beach where he could go in the water. We went there twice and both times Denver happily got in the water and lay down, letting the small waves splash against his fur. He loved the water. I’m grateful there was a quiet, dog friendly beach so close to us.
I’m grateful Denver wanted to play with his tennis ball one final time. For his whole life Denver has loved tennis balls. He would chase other things, but nothing surpassed the tennis ball as Denver’s favorite toy. He would often go on walks carrying his ball in his mouth. I had to get a Chuck-it when he was younger so that I could save my shoulder from getting sore throwing the ball to him so much. His pace was slower and he didn’t run as far, but he maintained his love for tennis balls. I’m grateful he could play on his last day.
I’m grateful for Jeep rides with Denver. We took him in the Jeep to the top of Cadillac Mountain. It’s the highest mountain along the North Atlantic seaboard (1530 feet). It’s also the first place to see the sunrise in the United States during summer. I’m grateful it was a clear, beautiful day when Denver was there. People laughed at his ears blowing in the wind. He loved the smells, he was greeted by children and adults, and he was content to lay on a mat on top of the highest peak in New England while his fur dried and he looked at the ocean with Greg and me. I’m grateful for the time we spent on that mountain. Time when I could kiss him, tell him how great he had been, and say goodbye.
I’m grateful for finding a compassionate veterinarian close to our RV park. I’m grateful Denver is not dealing with arthritis or a stomach tumor anymore. I’m grateful for having nearly 13 years with an amazing best friend.
RIP my Rocky Mountain Legacy (aka Denver).