My ex wife and I bought Pollo, originally named Apollo Buckshadow Of Chatham Towamencin, a pure bred Golden Retriever. He was 8 weeks old and weighed all of 14 pounds. In spite of a restricted and strict diet, he still grew to one hundred and five pounds of pure happiness.
Pollo was always known by everyone as a “happy” Golden. I have often been asked if there was any secret to Pollo living to well over 14 years of age, missing his 15th birthday by only a few months. I let Pollo be Pollo. I let him be a friend, a companion. There were never any expectations of him. And he only expected one thing of me, to come home every day.
Two things were his favorite thing to do, swim (as all water dogs do), and play in the snow. He loved going outside, taking a good strong whiff of the winter air, and he could “smell” snow was coming. Because every time he would come back into the house, five minutes later he would be at the door wanting to go back outside, expecting to see snow falling. And he got quite vocal about it, in spite of my assurances to him that it had not snowed yet.
But what made him the best friend in the whole world, was his loyalty and his compassion. Very sensitive to when anyone in the house was not feeling right, I recall his reaction to when I came home following a week in the hospital following my open heart surgery. With a freshly repaired breast bone, my biggest fear would be that Pollo would greet me in usual fashion, rough and playful. Instead, one of the few times I would ever describe Pollo as calm, he simply walked right up to me, and stood by my side as I walked through the front door. And that is exactly how he would be each and every time I fell seriously ill.
He was awesome with our children and got along with the each and every cat that came to our home.
We were lucky to have Pollo as long as we had him, and for the most part he was completely healthy. Which is why I had always hoped that he would simply fade into the sunset in his older years. My fear that someday, I would have to make the most heartbreaking decision in my life. That day came last November. Pollo’s eyesight, hearing, and ability to walk were evident of his age. But as long as Pollo was “happy”, I was not prepared to make the painful decision to say goodbye to him. I was convinced that one day, he would let me know, that it was okay to let him go.
Pollo’s happiness was always evident with his tail. It never stopped wagging, never. But on that morning, his tail stopped wagging. Among other signs, mostly blind and deaf, unable to smell, it was clear that suffering was about to begin for my friend. His tail no longer wagged. I contacted the only vet Pollo had ever known, from beginning to end, and when Dr. W examined Pollo for what would be the final time, Dr. W. looked at me and told me, it was indeed time to say goodbye.
Pollo was gone. And Dr. W and I spent at least another half an hour recalling all the times that we had with Pollo. The failed diet study that Pollo was volunteered for (he gained weight), to his appearance on the People’s Court. Dr. W had stressed to me the wonderful years that I had given Pollo which clearly is what contributed to his longevity. I have always loved animals, but Pollo was so much more to me.
I miss you bud. And someday, we will meet again at the Rainbow Bridge. And I will see that tail wag again.
The Rainbow Bridge
There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors.
Just this side of the Rainbow there is a land of meadows,
hills and valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place.
There is always food and water and warm spring weather.
The old and frail animals are young again. Those who are maimed
are made whole again. They play all day with each other.
There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special
person who loved them on Earth. So, each day they run and play
until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up!
The nose twitches! The ears are up!
The eyes are staring! And this one suddenly runs from the group!
You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet,
you take him or her in your arms and embrace.
Your face is kissed again and again and again, and you look
once more into the eyes of your trusting pet.
Then you cross the Bridge together
never again to be separated.