He was ninety-five pounds of teddy bear, a golden retriever who looked more like an Irish Setter. He was our constant companion, going nearly everywhere with us. I walked him every day and he was my ambassador to the neighborhood, as people would gleefully greet him (and usually only give me a passing nod). And water… he loved water more than any dog I knew. We once made the mistake of taking him fishing. Out in the middle of the lake, he leaped into the water. I couldn’t haul ninety-five pounds of wet dog back into the boat, so I made him swim back.
When our kids were born, he accepted them into the family like a trooper. As toddlers they poked him in the eyes, yanked his ears and tail, and jumped on him like a trampoline. He seemed to know, this was part of the gig.
Hip dysplasia took its toll on him, and I spent the last year of his life carrying him up and down the stairs twice a day. He died the day after our third daughter was born, a bittersweet day if there ever was one.