Hot tub shopping on the day I lost a dear friend

This isn’t as cool as eating a bologna sandwich beside Chevy Chase, but it’s a message I won’t forget any time soon.

A memory

One thing I’ve always hated about having pets is how terrible it is when it’s their time to go. When my parents’ dog, Sybil, died when I was in college, my mom waited until Friday to tell me so it wouldn’t interfere with my studies, then she called me at work to tell me what had happened.

The result was me boo-hooing in the middle of the car dealership’s accounting office, where I was a file clerk at the time. Luckily all the office workers had gone home, but I still had to compose myself before walking through the sales floor, where all of the salesmen would surely have wanted to know what was wrong and I just couldn’t talk about it: this was the worst kind of pain.

I called my boyfriend bawling and I was unable to speak and he got a complex and was certain it was because I wanted to break up with him. In hindsight, I should’ve: right then.

Tiffany, foreground, and Breanna in snow in early 2001.
Tiffany, foreground, and Breanna in snow in early 2001.

Fastforward several years, and I have my own pets. Not my parents’ pets, but mine, well, sort of anyway. I have Breanna, a beagle mix I got from a rescue group, and Tiffany, a golden retriever/lab mix who actually used to be my parents’ dog but then she became mine when they moved to a place where they couldn’t have pets.

Tiffany has been in my life since I was 10; she was Amy’s parents’ dog first, then when they moved to a place they couldn’t have pets, she came to live with my family. And then in 2001, she came to live with me. She was 14 years old in 2002, and she was healthy as could be. Until one day, she wasn’t.

I found her hiding in the back of the yard one afternoon, under a pile of brush, in an area of the yard that she didn’t typically frequent. I knew as soon as I saw her that something was really, really wrong. I tried to pick her up but I couldn’t get to her, and I think she sensed my desperation because she finally stood up and limped out from under the brush before collapsing in the center of the yard.

I was able to carry her then, all 50 pounds of her, to the car where I called the vet on the way, frantic.

Long story short and many, many tears later, there was an operation to determine she had a tumor that ruptured. She made it through the surgery, but she died moments later on the operating table. She’d lived a good, long life, but I wasn’t ready for her to go, and I bawled and bawled.

Jeff came rushing home once he’d heard the news, and he had to go back to work but he suggested Colleen and I go hot tub shopping (Colleen had taken the day off of work to be with me because she knew how distraught I might be, should things go wrong.) A distraction. So we did. We went to this warehouse full of  hot tub after hot tub, and I mindlessly wandered through, not really interested in anything there, wishing I’d just stayed home so I could cry some more.

Just as I was ready to turn to Colleen and ask her if we could call it a day, I glimpsed some movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned, and out of nowhere – appeared a golden retriever, running toward us at full force, and he didn’t stop until he reached me, and didn’t even really stop then: he jumped, no, lept into my arms, paws on shoulders, and started licking my face.

I didn’t question why a dog, a golden retriever specifically, happened to be in a hot tub warehouse on the very day that Tiffany had passed away. Nope, I didn’t question it for one second.