Goodbye, sweet Violet
On July 5, my husband and I took my very best friend in the whole wide world for her last car ride. We had been agonizing over this decision for several days, and on that particular day, when we called to wish our youngest son a happy birthday, he said: “Mom, I would like to share this day with Violet. I think you know that it’s time.”
We followed his advice. I gave Violet one of her favorite bones, a nice big piece of dark chocolate, she licked my nose and looked into my eyes for the very last time and I saw all of the love and trust that we shared for almost 14 years. In a quiet and beautiful way, our beloved veterinarian helped us to allow her to go peacefully.
Violet, a beautiful labradoodle puppy, came into my life when she was eight weeks old. My husband loved her almost as much as I did, but she was my dog. She came to me at the time when I became an empty-nester and began menopause. Not a good combination of things to happen at the same time. She never judged and quickly made me her full time responsibility.
Our Labrador retriever, Zoe, who had always been a family dog, found herself without her charges and decided to make me her job as well. Violet was not having it. She often showed her colors as a “bitch” in every sense of the word…but never, ever to me. When Zoe left us, we didn’t get another dog and it became the first time in our marriage that we didn’t have at least two pets at the same time. It was Violet’s mission in life to take care of us (me!), she didn’t want or need any help, and we decided to grant her wish.
As I think back on all of my dogs (and one cat that I rescued when I was in college, who stayed for 15 years), every single one of them had a job.
Brandy and Taffy were our family dogs growing up. Brandy’s job was to guard my middle sister’s room and give her all kinds of surprises to clean up under her bed. Taffy was so devoted to us that every chance he got, he would make his way to our school, crossing a very busy street to get there. My sisters and I got called to the principal’s office, at least twice a week, to be almost knocked over by our joyous golden retriever and to call our mom to come and get him.
Murphy was my first very own dog that I rescued from a puppy mill in downtown Detroit, as a sophomore in college. He was so infested with worms and became so unhealthy that I had to use my food allowance to cook ground beef mixed with cottage cheese for him three times a day. I ate cereal. Eventually he got the best college education, accompanying me to all of my classes and even on dates. His opinion was very important to me.
We went through our retriever years throughout our marriage, with Cory, Chloe, Maizy and Zoe all overlapping one another, so that we were never without a family pet. They all did their jobs well, loving our children, cleaning all of the errant French fries and Cheerios out of our mini-vans, swimming in our pool, rolling in the mud and running through the house, but never being too busy to be right in the middle of every family project and gathering.
We strayed a bit with a labradoodle, but never regretted our choice. We so miss her presence in our lives. We will allow ourselves to grieve for awhile and then there will most certainly be a new puppy in the house who will grow up to a very big responsibility—carrying us into our golden years by keeping us company and giving us a big responsibility back. Almost 40 years of marriage and for the first time there are only two warm bodies in our bed at night. It is no reflection on how much we love one another, but two are just not enough.
Vicki Bernie is a freelance writer, wife, mother, grandmother, and dog person…loving “Chapter Two” on Daniel Island.