It's summertime, and the neighbors are on a three-week tour or Europe. The good news for me is that I am enjoying the puppy energy and fun of puppy-sitting for Scooby, the yellow lab.  Scooby and Shadow,  my golden retriever, are having the time of their lives.  Running around in the yard chasing balls looks pretty good to me, especially since I work pretty hard at this work that I do.

My passion for dogs has been life-long.  There is something about that unconditional love and those adoring brown eyes gazing at you that just melts  life's troubles away.   Around this time in 2004, I said goodbye to my first golden retriever.  Her name was Amanda, which means “worthy of love.”  She was.

As I smile at these two energetic dogs who can't wait to welcome life with great joy, I will share the tribute to Amanda I wrote when she passed.   I miss her still, but she is alive forever in my heart.

For the Love of a Great Dog Named Amanda

My husband I moved to the Seattle area just about in 1987, and I didn’t know a soul.  Fortunately, we adopted a golden retriever puppy a few months later.  Amanda helped open doors to new friends and neighbors and wonderful places to play and explore.  Some say the people in the Northwest are nice, but not friendly.  I can say with fond authority that having a dog like Amanda makes all the difference in the world.

With her happy gait and friendly expression, people would come out of their homes to say hello to both of us as we took long walks in the neighborhood.  When we visited local parks, traveled the ferries, or took road trips around the region, she seemed to smile and invite conversation.   She could shake hands and do a “high five” with anyone wishing to make her acquaintance.   At home, she was a loyal companion and playmate.   She was always happy to see me when I returned home from work or errands.  She often sat happily at my feet with her dark brown eyes holding my gaze and her right paw holding my hand.

She helped welcome our son Kyle to our family in 1997.  She endured various home remodeling projects with good humor.   The pitter patter of her paws brought joyful noise throughout our house.

Over the years, I watched Amanda grow from a ball of fluff to a mature and regal adult to a tired and weary senior citizen.  As time passed, her quick and bouncy gait changed to a slow and deliberate saunter.  Sometimes, she would have trouble walking up the stairs.  Her hearing grew weak, her vision grew cloudy, and she seemed so very tired.  Yet every now and then, her tail would wag, and she would look at me with those dark brown eyes so I could see the puppy inside.

One Wednesday in 2004,  I learned that Amanda had a tumor.  The prognosis was grim.  Rather than put her through the surgery and the follow up care, I made the difficult choice to lay her down.  Through my tears, I tried hard to hold her gaze as I held her right paw with my hand.  I then buried my face in her fur as she quietly slipped away.

I sat with Amanda for quite a while, remembering all the special moments I shared with her throughout her life.   At six weeks old, she picked me for her new master, and I made a commitment to love her and care for her until the very end.   She led a charmed life and brought smiles and joy to everyone she met, especially me.  Aside from being stung by a bee once, I don’t think she ever had a bad day in her life.  She introduced me to the people and places of the Puget Sound in a magical, joyful way.  The years with Amanda passed quickly, the memories are sweet, and the end came all too soon.  For the love of a great dog named Amanda, I am all the richer.  She’ll always have a place in my heart.