It’s the price of unconditional love. We can’t have it for more than a few years. Not quite eleven, not till some time in August. The year I lost my first horse, before I got my cat, a friend and I lured Oz out of a creekside garbage dump where he’d been stashed, strayed or abandoned in a choke collar so tiny it had to be cut off of him. He was a big puppy. He got bigger. But his easygoing temperament never changed. He was happy living among the old paint cans and cement slabs. He was happy to be in a house. He loved kids and dogs and cats and food of all kinds. At 8 PM he’d go upstairs to bed, whatever house he happened to be at. He was always smiling.
Retrievers are called by their color—Golden—or where they come from—Chesapeake, Labrador. Oz was the world’s one and only Neshannock Creek Retriever, and our family dog. He lived with me from the August rescue until he went to my brother’s house in January. He came back to me whenever my brother was away, and he spent a lot of time with my mom and sister. When Mom broke her hip, he visited her at the hospital, with all and sundry pretending not to see a hundred-plus pounds of happy dog strolling by. Ozzy went with me to Light-Up Night downtown, unfazed by fire trucks blaring sirens and marching bands and fireworks. Search & Rescue wanted to recruit him, that night. The next year, he met the mayor at the parade. (The mayor was impressed by his size. Oz was just Oz.)
Oz, it wasn’t long enough, and we were blessed to have you. Good Boy!