The Best Friend a Girl Ever Had

The Best Friend a Girl Ever Had

Dec 21
The Best Friend a Girl Ever Had

It was the summer of 1997 when he came into my life, the best friend a girl ever had.  There were other little golden retriever bundles of joy at the breeder but the second he tumbled in my direction, tripping over his over-sized feet and rolled over on his back, I was captured.  The breeder warned me that he had a bent tail from falling out of the birth canal and as a result he was the runt of the litter.  Nothing would deter me and so it goes the first day of my relationship with Holmes, the loyal, funny, compassionate friend who has made me laugh and licked my tears away for almost 12 wonderful years.  As I made my way into the car, Holmes was jumping around in the box whining and fussing.  I finally acquiesced and let him sit in my lap.  He happily settled in and played with one of the strings on my clothes until we made it home.  We spent so many happy days together that summer.  We took car rides, visited friends and played with children on the streets as we walked together.  Children were his favorite, since often times they would have bonus snacks hanging from their little lips.  He’d come up to them and lick the ice cream off of their faces and they would giggle hysterically.

As a young dog, he was headstrong.  He’d get out in the field next to my apartment and when I called him to come back, he’d lift his head and laugh at my request.  At one point, I went on a 30 minute whirlwind tour of my apartment complex, trying to coax him over my direction to put his leash back on.  I promised treats, I promised love but nothing I promised was as appealing as the sense of adventure of running free. The possibilities were endless.  He eventually found an elderly couple who were preparing to go on a trip and since he simply loved car rides, he hopped up into the passenger’s seat and gave the woman driving his cheesiest grin.  How could she possibly resist his charm? The elderly gentlemen looked baffled as he returned from the trunk where he was loading some items for the trip and his wife was still talking as if her husband was the one who had occupied the seat next to her.  He mocked her jabber…..  She was really surprised when she turned to see why he hadn’t answered and a good laugh was had by all.  The nice lady commented that Holmes didn’t seem to be any more responsive than her husband and that he too was hard headed.

Within that same year, Jason decided to purchase a boat to hang out at Cave Run Lake in Morehead, Kentucky.  It was a WellCraft 18 foot bow rider.  Many a lazy day we spent laying out in the sun and swimming in the lake with Holmes.  It was his favorite doggy thing to do.  Every Saturday morning, we’d pack up from Cincinnati and start driving towards the lake.  He hopped up and down in doggy rapture, anxiously awaiting his chance to chase the tennis ball in the warm lake water.  After all, goldens are designed for duck hunting and this activity best suited his puppy primal nature.  So much so, that he would chase that ball until he was so tired that he could barely swim and started sinking and getting water up his silly nose.  We ended up buying him a doggy life jacket and he was quite a sight to see.

One memorable day out on the boat, Jason and I were half asleep, catching some rays and listening to the stereo.  We heard a big splash.  Holmes had jumped headfirst off the front of the boat and was headed straight for the center of the lake.  He had spotted a goose about a half a mile off and was bound and determined to pay this fowl a visit.  We had to actually spark up the engines to go and get him, since even the promise of goodies didn’t deter him from his mission.  I’m not sure what he would have done with the goose once he got there but I am quite sure he wouldn’t have been very happy with the result if he had arrived.  Geese can be quite aggressive when provoked and I can just see little Holmes swimming around with a hissing flapping goose on his head.

My best friend was there for me at the beginning of my adult life.  I had just finished college and each day when I came home from work he would welcome me in the most grandiose way.  I wrote a poem about his antics at the door.

by Angela Fardo
His ear perks up in anticipation, as a foot falls on the steps
Keys dance in midair excited to meet lonely locks
She’s here!
Happy paws fall on fur-filled carpet and whiskers twitch
He sees her smiling face…. joy and rapture
Jump! Spin! Tango!
He thought she would never return
He puts on his cheesiest poster dog smile, sits at attention
Hoping for a walk, a talk, a touch, a treat
She is the world

Holmes wanted to be everywhere I was at every moment.  I could always hear the padding of his paws behind me.  At bath time after a long stressful day at work, he would hang out in the bathroom while I took a bath.  He’d lap up the bathwater and lick my arm to let me know just how special I was to him.  I’d tell him my problems and he would greet my troubles with every trick he could muster until I laughed again.

Later on in life at age 9, our precious boy went blind from glaucoma and even then he greeted each day with a smile. I think it bothered us more than him.  I can just imagine him thinking to himself, geez it sure is dark out today.  If only people could meet each day with such eager anticipation for the simple joys that make up life.  A warm smile, a delicious meal, shelter and the gentle touch of the ones we love.  These are the things that really matter and we choose instead to fear and worry over the unreachable and the unattainable.  We complicate things that are so very simple.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday of this year, we had the worst news possible.  Holmes was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was that he had less than six weeks to live.  We were given options but none of them resulted in him staying with us forever.  I spent every waking moment I could spare with him.  I gave him bacon, commandments were broken and every single tick of the clock divided into a treasured eternity.  Friends and family tried to coax me out of the house out of concern but nothing could convince me to leave his side.  He would never leave mine.  The medicine bought us a few treasured weeks but we knew the time was short.  His Christmas gifts arrived and he followed his nose over to the tree and dropped his gifts at my feet to open.  He happily devoured pig ears by the Christmas tree, as our time together slowly ebbed away.

Today, I lost the best friend a girl ever had but I know that I have learned from him the important things.  No matter where I go from here, every time I see a picture or remember a moment with my beloved friend, it will remind me to cherish each day and to hold on to the things that are important, for I was loved best of all.

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