We used to do foster care for one of the Golden Retriever rescues here in Phoenix. This meant that we would basically be the dog’rents for a Golden until we found him/her their forever home. It was great. We had some really great dogs. We speak of them (well, most of them) fondly. Very fondly. There were two that we let get away. One is Sunshine. We hear from her Mom all the time and get pictures and updates, so it’s okay. She’ll always be part of our family.
The other dog that slipped through our fingers was Midas. Midas went to doggie heaven today. Just to warn you now, this will be a longer post than normal. And, I hope, one that brings tears to your eyes. Good tears.
We got a call one day from the Foster Coordinator asking if we could take in Midas. The information they knew was that he was about ten years old, and the family no longer had time for him. Unfortunately, we’d heard this often. It’s not as bad as the man who was giving up his two Goldens because his fiancee didn’t like them. What’s not to like about Golden Retrievers? We said "why not give up the fiancee?" I still hope he did that. I almost said "secretly hope", but there’s no secret about it, whatsoever. If I had to choose between a Golden Retriever and a person who would ask that someone give them up because she didn’t "like" them, I’m choosing the Golden Retriever. Each and every time.
Midas came into our lives in the Summer of 2003. He was a Senior dog. That just meant that he was a bit older, not so much a puppy anymore, and had a gray face. That was completely okay with us. We loved him immediately. He had this "scent" about him, I don’t know what it was, but honestly, I still miss it. His own special brand of dog smell. He came into our house and meshed immediately. Our Golden, Tucker, who was three at the time, loved him immediately. Midas was a big dog, real tall, broad. Weighed about 94 pounds when he was with us. Tucker used to try to hump him. We called it "jump humping" as Tucker had to leap up to hump him properly. Was very funny. Midas used to turn his head around to see what the young whippersnapper was doing. Didn’t phase him at all.
Midas came with a file folder. I read it the second or third day he was with us. His original parents had obviously spent a lot of time training him. There was a list of things that he could do. One of them was tell you that he loved you. Here’s how it went:
Human: Tell me you love me.
Human: Tell me you love me.
Each and every time, that’s how it went. It must have been a two-part command. To this day, Robert and I will still use this with each other. (Hey, what’s a blog for if I can’t embarrass myself?)
A few potential "forever families" came to the house to meet Midas. Since he was older, it was harder to place him. Just like children, it would seem. People would see his gray (handsome) face and decide they didn’t want him. Was heartbreaking. Truly.
We had him for a few months at this point. Here’s a picture of him at Thanksgiving getting hand fed by me. With Tucker and Tucker’s littermate sister, Hailey. Midas is the one with the Christmas collar. (Please ignore the 1970’s shag carpeting. That’s gone now.)
That year I think we had twenty-four people and three doggies for Thanksgiving dinner. One of our better years. I like when the dog ratio is high. :O)
My sister Pam, in Philadelphia, had some friends who were ready to get another dog. They had lost their German Shepherd about a year or so prior, and had decided that they were ready for another dog. Somehow, we sold them on the idea of Midas. Now we just needed to see the Rescue group on the idea of transporting a dog 2400 miles. That took a bit of convincing. He couldn’t fly, was too old, and most importantly too heavy. Dogs and their carriers have to weigh no more than 100#. Ahem, slimfast?
More convincing needed. This time by me, of Robert. To drive him there. :O) I’ll spare you the details, I just used my trump card. You see, Midas had a thing for blankets. He would drag one with him throughout the house.
Well, my sister’s friends have three children, the youngest a girl. She was probably around six at the time. She had already picked out a blanket that would be Midas’. I told Robert. He said to call Avis. You can see why I married him.
We set out to take Midas to his new home. We rented an SUV and started the drive. I won’t bore you with the details. Let’s just highlight a few big ones:
- If you pull into Santa Rosa New Mexico at 2am expecting to find either food or a Policeman, you better go to the convenience store across from the La Quinta hotel. That’s where you’ll find the entire Police force, and your Fruity Pebbles. Seriously. That’s what we had for dinner that first night. We had to take a HUGE soda cup and tear down the sides for a bowl.
- If you pack shorts and T-shirts for a four day trip (because you do live in Arizona for gosh sakes!), you will get stared at when you go into a Walt-Mart in Oklahoma City looking for long pants.
- Oh, and the above referenced item only occurs when you wake up on the second morning of your trip to a SNOWSTORM!
- If you suggest the southern route of travel so that you can take a total of two freeways to Philadelphia (I-10 East and I-95 North) your boyfriend will randomly decide to buy a GPS unit that takes you the shortest way and that is THE WAY WE MUST GO.
- That when your boyfriend grows up in Chicago, that does not mean he’s ever driven in the snow.
- That when you’re driving in the worst snowstorm in a decade, for four days, your butt cheeks are so clenched together in fear that nothing else matters.
- That when you are driving in said snowstorm and see tractor trailers SLIDING off of the freeway, there’s no point in backseat/frontseat driving. The driver is fully aware that they are holding the lives of two humans and one doggie in their hands. And butt cheeks.
- That if you want to get the FASTEST speeding ticket in the country (processing time, not speed limit), drive through the panhandle of Texas. Seriously, we had barely pulled over before he came back to the car with the ticket. Not even a "y’all drive safe from here on" in closing. He was already on to the next car. Weird.
- That La Quinta hotels ROCK because they take doggies. Without fail.
- That when an elderly wheelchair bound woman sees you with a dog getting off the elevator, it will MAKE YOUR DAY to go over to her and let the dog love her. It still makes my day.
- That dogs hunker down when elevators move.
- That Midas stole our blanket every night we were in a hotel. Sigh. That dog!
- That Midas was made for snow. We pulled into a hotel parking lot one night at about 3am. On the way from the car to the hotel lobby Midas just plopped onto the snowy pavement and started rolling around, making doggie angels, we guessed. Seriously, this dog was writhing and moaning with pleasure. He was so happy we started giggling. I eventually looked up from Midas and saw a bunch of teenaged girls staring at us through a window, and laughing at Midas. We saw them the next morning, and I apologized for waking them. They said "No, it was GREAT to see your dog, he was having so much fun!" He loved being in the snow. Each time there was snow in Philadelphia I’d get to hear a Midas story. That made me happy.
- That Midas laid down on the back seat for the ENTIRE ride, unless he was getting his morning Egg McMuffin (to take his pills). Until we got off the freeway exit that would lead to his new life. Seriously. He just popped up when we got off the PA Turnpike and stayed on alert until we got to his new house.
- That as foster dog’rents we got VERY nervous when we parked the car at his new house and walked him to the door. What if they didn’t love him? Did that mean we had to drive back?
As soon as we walked up to the door, his new Mommy saw him and fell in love. We were showing him around the house when we mentioned that he had to take some medicine. She takes some ham out of the refrigerator and wraps his pill in a piece and feeds it to him. She says "He doesn’t keep kosher, does he?"
Robert, Pam and I all say at the same time "not anymore."
We found Midas his forever home. With his new family in Philadelphia. They loved him. He loved them. We loved them for taking him into their family.
Thank you George, Mary, George, Tim and Hannah. You let Midas wrap you around his little dew claws, and you let him eat your food. You gave him a wonderful life.