August 25, 1996 – August 10, 2008
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Kahlil Gibran
Joe was born some time in August of 1996. He was a gift from Donna’s sister to her father on his birthday on September 17, 1996 – carried home in a shoe box. Everyone that saw Joe as a puppy commented on his big paws – "that’s gonna be a big dog!" Yes, they knew Joe was gonna be a big dog (92 pounds!), but no one knew what a big heart he would have.
Joe spent the first eight or nine years of his life as a friendly car and bicycle chasing country dog. Everyone in Lakeview in Smithville knew him. When he got bored, he would go out and chase cars, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles – all with great enthusiasm marked by that big wagging tail.
I always felt sorry for Joe in the country. He was such a sweet dog, even to other dogs, that the meaner dogs in the country neighborhood always kinda beat up on him. He was never the dominant dog. I just don’t think he participated in the normal dog hierarchies. He didn’t even do so in our house with our two other dogs and four cats! It was just too much love, almost to a fault!
Joe also loved riding in the back of a pickup truck. He’d ride along and just bark. As he got older, he’d lay in the back of my truck since he had orthopedic problems, but he’d still be barking! You wouldn’t believe how high walkers, joggers bicyclists, and even drivers with their windows down would jump when Joe felt the need to let out a series of those deep billowing barks! He really only wanted to say hello.
Joe was a golden retriever. They are known for their fondness of water. Joe didn’t even like to get his tongue wet when getting a drink of water! When visiting Smithville, I’d load Joe and Holly up in the truck for a trip down to the lake. Holly and I would walk down to the shoreline, Joe reluctantly following. As soon as Holly bounded into the water, I’d turn around to see Joe’s tail heading for the truck. He’d lay underneath until all the extremely undesirable swimming was over and the extremely desirable truck riding began.
Oh, that big old wagging tail. We had Joe for about hist last three years. He came to us after Donna’s mother fell and broke her pelvis. A 90 pound dog, though gentle, is kinda like a gentle horse! It was coming up on Christmas and we had the tree all decorated up. In came Joe – country dog turned Green Hills. It was backwards of Green Acres! That tail went to wagging and knocked ornaments and anything on the coffee table and end tables a flyin’! Joe also had to learn not to chase cars and bicycles, which he reluctantly learned.
I used to like laying on the floor on my back to watch TV. Joe really liked it when I did this too! He would get excited and almost fall all over himself to get there to lay up by me and rest his head on my shoulder. I always hoped he didn’t just take a drink of water beforehand, because he would dribble all over the house (and me on the floor) after he did!
Joe was a canine Houdini. Joe could open gates. On off-leash walks at night, he would be behind me one minute and just disappear the next. I’m not sure if it was accidental or on purpose, because he had this stupid genius thing going – kinda the Forrest Gump of dogs. Though Joe never go far on his walk-abouts, and he would always return home unless a good samaritan would spot him and call us to come get him. He always loved the attention and petting he got from the good samaritan while waiting for me to come get him. And of course he loved the ride back home even better!
Joe left us before he could teach our other two dogs to go to the bathroom back in the bushes. Joe liked his privacy when doing his business. I appreciated his shyness especially when mowing! On July 4 weekend this year, we took him for what would be the last visit to see Mom and Boppy. They have a small fenced in area that I set up for them for when they had Izzie. Joe was a nervous wreck when I let him back there – panting around watching me as usual. I finally let him out, and in the witness of Donna, he ran across the back field into the woods, where he did his business. Donna was so happy to see him run that she almost cried from joy! At that point, Joe needed help getting up off smooth hardwood floors.
We’re so blessed to have such supportive family and friends. In Joe’s time of need, Randy, Mark and Vicky experienced first hand the seemingly unpleasant last hours of his life. Everyone loved Joe, and especially Randy. I had always wanted to be there, but we don’t always get to choose the time. Thank you Randy. We know you love him, as you do all dogs and cats.
We’ll miss Joe. We’re home after driving all night to get here, and we miss stepping over him in the kitchen, hall, and every other doorway. He liked to lay in the way so he could keep an eye on us, be close to us. We’ll miss his tremendous bark when the garage door opens, or any time the cats argue with each other (he didn’t like conflict.) We’ll miss Joe when our little mean unfriendly cat Bitty gets in that rare loving mood, where Joe always served as her favorite "purring post" (she would purr, and walk back and forth under Joe’s tolerant chin.) We’ll miss worrying about him on his walkabouts into the dark of the neighborhood. We’ll miss being awakened by that wet mouth nudge while napping on the couch.
Joe lived a long and happy life in our family’s care. We’ll cherish the memories, joy and love that Joe brought into our lives for the twelve years of his life.
Rest in Peace