Joey ”my shadow” was called to Heaven on Thursday, 4-16-20
It’s been 64 hours since I held your little paw and we hugged forehead to forehead as I watched you breath your last breath. And I am still finding it hard to breath….and yet feel compelled to tell your story even though it is difficult to see through the tears falling down my cheeks. Why am I writing this letter, you’re gone, and I am still in denial, but someone said it might be a good thing to do for you and for me, so I will try. If no one reads it’s ok, this is about our Journey…..
When our Beloved Dakota “Cody” left us on September 12, 2005 while building his promised dream home with acres of grass to play on, he sadly never got to touch it, smell it, or roll in it. I immediately signed up for Golden Rescue volunteer as a home visit team member and a potential foster parent. Several calls followed for pets that had very special needs and we were the perfect home because we had no children or other pets, the rescues either needed to heal or be watched over without disruption. Unfortunately, I had to turn them all down as now I was losing my Father, during that year I was traveling too much to bring in another family member. I took myself off the foster list but continued to Volunteer. After my Father left us in July, 2007 I made the decision put us back on the Foster Parent list. Surely God gave us the means to have such a Beautiful Park like Yard for a reason and now that Cody was gone, I wanted other dogs to enjoy the Park. Shortly after final details were taken care of for my Father and arriving back in Arizona the phone rang on October 11, 2007. A young 8 month old Golden Boy needed a home and needed to be removed from his horrible situation that very day. Nervous and anxious as DeWayne was out of town, I said YES please bring him to me. And that is where our story began and here is my letter to you Sweet Joey.
Dear Sweet Joey, I was so excited to meet you, I remember waiting in the driveway for your arrival. I quickly found all the essentials you would need from Cody’s supplies. My excitement turned to shock when I saw how terrified you were to simply be out in the world and in a vehicle that moved. It took me and the volunteer all we could do to pry your little paws from the seat and gently lift you out of the car. You stood on unfamiliar ground and would not take a step, I carried you to the backyard where you then stood in one spot for hours afraid to make a single move, let alone sit or lay down. I wondered, did you think someone was going to hurt you again? You actually fell asleep standing up as I gently encouraged you to the soft grass beneath you. The volunteer was so nervous to leave him alone with me & offered to spend the night, she had no idea of your terror. I assured her we would be ok and off she went. It took so much courage for you to trust me giving you water and eventually food that for days you would only eat outside as you knew no better. Scary things for you were floors, door openings, carpet, running water, flushing toilets and so much more.
In time we got busy and you became the best dog ever, truly an Angel on earth. You soared through all levels of training including agility and advanced Delta Service Certification. Joey you always loved to learn new things and in time although scared to death of the pool you learned to swim like a pro ! In time you began trusting Men and grew to love your Daddy. You taught us that it’s possible to forgive and to love and learn to trust. I soon realized I needed to share this amazing soul that you were showing me with the world. That is when we became certified and began volunteering, first Ronald McDonald House, Nursing Homes and the latest, Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Unit for Children. You have this gift that people are drawn too, all ages but children especially. There could be 8 dogs in Home Depot and everyone wanted to talk to You, Joey. The fan base that you have is huge, from Home Depot, Home Goods, In & Out Burger, Costco, Mayo, ReMax Office Mascot and your very favorite were consignment stores, wow the excitement with all the smells in there! You truly are special and I am not sure what we did to deserve a dog like you. I used to ask you if my Dad had anything to do with you picking me, you would always turn and look right at me as if you knew the answer. In my heart I know that Dad asked God to send me an Angel because my heart was so broken from losing Cody and then him. You my friend are that Angel.
Sweet Sweet Joey, I miss you so much it is debilitating. Yes, you lived a wonderful long life and we were diligent on semi annual screenings as to not be caught off guard again, that didn’t work ! Just 2 ½ weeks prior to your diagnosis the vet said your ultrasound and blood work are like that of a 6 month old, yay! Remember when this whole COVID19 thing started we had a talk and agreed to remain healthy because it was getting scary out there and vets were not even seeing people !
Without warning, we noticed something didn’t seem quite right. You can imagine our shock when 3 separate doctor visits, tests, pathology and more tests went from, maybe it’s the flu, to it’s cancer but treatable, to we are so sorry it’s the most aggressive cancer ever and there is nothing we can do. We were not about to give up on you Scooter and we initiated the only hope they offered which was chemo. You tolerated it so well and went back to our playful Joey. Things changes very quickly... The pain is unbearable to have watched you go from what appeared to be healthy & happy eating your Birthday Cake and opening presents to leaving this earth in a matter of 17 days ! We were supposed to have at least another year to hang out and go on adventures together. Remember last month at the Dog Park you wanted to keep up with the best of them and you did, yes and you hurt the next day, but you didn’t care. You were always so fast, no one could believe it. Remember last summer at the lake you chased a baby rabbit and actually caught it….although I hated the outcome, the look on your face was like a victorious hunter and you were so proud !
Talk about smart, you would pretend to listen to all my stories whether it was a good day or a bad one, I could see in your eyes you were trying your best to comprehend and do the right thing, be it a cuddle or a, Mom let’s go play outside. I hated leaving you home alone so I always gave the option, I would say well Mommy’s going to work, “coming with or staying home” and you would always run to the garage door. You were my shadow buddy, my helper at work, my companion shopper, my dining companion, my traveling companion, my Hospital Volunteer, playmate, front seat navigator, my best friend, my child. I don’t think we spent much time apart and when we had to, I could not wait to pull into the garage and know that your happy face and wagging tail were always waiting right at the door to greet me every single day for 12 ½ years. You had to have your Mommy in your visual wherever she went, it was so cute when you would come in from being outside with Daddy and I would hide behind a wall and you had this look on your face like oh my gosh where is she. I would watch you go from room to room knowing all the right places to look, of course first the office and then not seeing me, the look was priceless. Maybe it was mean but like I said you always loved a good game of hide and seek and the joy on your face when you saw me was even more priceless. Joe Joe, I have been through this too many times and you are the special one no doubt. Nothing could have prepared me for the next morning when I didn’t see you at the foot of my bed and I jumped up and you weren’t in your house, and reality hit me hard, I felt a part of my heart actually tear. I had no reason to get up, no one to let out, no one to feed, no one to play with or brush or walk…… Weird how your brain works, I somehow continue to see you come around the corner or come look at me and tell me what time it is, boy were you good at telling time and yet you never made a big deal of it. A simple look, “hey Mom can you stop working to feed me now”, then if it's ok can we do our prized sunset play time, your ultimate favorite when the birds are chirping and the grills are fired up ! I see you everywhere, I hear you, I look for you in the places you spend each day and you do have an exact science of how you move about the house but mostly you hang out in my office which is where I will find the most loneliness in the days ahead. Oh trust me I have imagined this day and knew it would hurt insurmountably but the hole you left in my heart is gigantic and unrepairable.
When you took your last breath, I felt a huge part of myself die, physically die. Daddy and I carried you to the van that took you away with your beautiful body in it and watched until it was out of sight, and then I watched some more and even looked back thinking this was some horrible nightmare that would soon end. And as I walked back into Joey's house I felt a pain in my chest like I have never felt before, this was real, you are not coming back.
I have not left the house since you left it because I don’t know how to come back into an empty house without you behind that door tail wagging and jumping on me as though I was the best thing you saw all day. Joey, as you Cross over the Rainbow Bridge you mark the end of an era, The Joey era that will never be forgotten. The only thing I can do is Thank you for all your unconditional love, your time, commitment, and the service you have given not only to us but so so many people. You will live on in the hearts of everyone who ever met you.
I miss you soooooo much my little “shadow”.