I won't write about how we get attached to dogs, beyond all reason. We simply do. I won't write about how we know their life spans are shorter than ours, and that we will outlive them. We do and we will. I won't write about how the end will be tough and our hearts will break. It will be and they will. I will write, instead, about Lola, AKA Yellow Dog.
My younger son, Micah, acquired Lola 12 years ago, when she was a puppy. Micah had just graduated from college, moved to Charleston, SC, and was happily on the brink of adulthood and the responsibilities that would follow. Lola would be his first big responsibility in life, and he was ready to take that on.
Lola was a Golden Retriever, which means she was smart, even-tempered, and loving to a fault. Lola and Micah were the perfect fit. Each greeted the world every day with boundless joy. Each looked for the good in people, and were rewarded with receiving good in return. Each had people drawn to them, wherever they went. Each was unaware of the huge positive energy they put out, just going about their day.
At home, Lola never experienced a cage, a fence, a leash, a harsh word. She lived on a cul-de-sac, within a few yards of a large grassy area and a small man-made pond. She ran and splashed at will, year-round. Every other animal she encountered was a friend. Every other person she encountered was a potential play partner. Having never been afraid, her heart remained open to the world.
When Micah met Janelle, Janelle fell in love with Lola almost to the same degree that she fell in love with Micah. And, because Janelle is an artist, with an artist's sensitivity and ability, she expressed that love in more than words and affection. She painted a portrait of Lola with a rawhide bone in her mouth. Lola had two beds, one in the living room and one in the bedroom. Micah and Janelle hung the painting on the wall above Lola's living room bed. When Lola lay in her bed, chewing on a rawhide bone, beneath the painting of her doing the same, I never ceased to laugh at the double vision that was created.
It was easy to see what kind of husband and father Micah would be by the way he was with Lola. It was easy to see what kind of wife and mother Janelle would be by the way she was with Lola. Happily, the two of them decided to spend their lives together.
Micah and Janelle will be married in the spring, beneath an old spreading tree on the grounds of a tea plantation in Charleston. My older son, Josh, will stand by Micah's side as best man. The ceremony will be officiated by my daughter Yael. The couple will stand on a small Turkish rug that has been in my husband's family for generations. They will be surrounded by the love of friends and family, as well as by the beauty of nature.
Micah and Janelle had planned to have Lola at the wedding, although they didn't want her to walk with them or to stand beside them. They wanted her to be able to just be a dog, and to watch everything, along with the invited guests. Lola would be off to the side, with one of Micah's friends. Other friends were to take turns watching her throughout the party that would follow.
Of course, all that has changed. I expect that now, Lola will be able to stand beside them, beneath the tree, as they make their vows to each other. And, at the party she will do her usual thing. She will wag her tail non-stop, hoping that someone will throw something for her to fetch. She will wait expectantly at tables as people eat, never barking, knowing full well that she isn't permitted to eat table food. She will roll onto her back to be petted. In other words, she will do whatever it is that well-trained and extremely lucky dogs do, when their lives have been filled with unlimited love and joy.
Yesterday, the day Lola passed, a menorah arrived that I had intended to give Micah for Hanukkah. I was disappointed that it had arrived too late for me to have given it to him in time to have used it for the holiday. I took it out of its box and unwrapped it. I had forgotten which menorah Janelle had suggested I order. It was the Tree of Life.
Thank you, Yellow Dog, for accompanying Micah on his journey into adulthood, and for being part of Micah and Janelle's first family. Thank you also for reminding us that life is always connected, that the roots of both life and love run deep, and that the connection to either is never broken.