by Julie Smith
We often said Logan would be sainted at the end of his life. You see, we had adopted him out of sheer desperation. Kelsey, Our HIGH ENERGY golden retriever/border collie mix needed a friend!
We all ventured to Golden Retriever Rescue, (golden lovers that we are), and Kelsey chose a one-year-old purebred golden retriever who had been surrendered by his former family because of his habit of jumping their fence and roaming the neighborhood. Once home, we headed to our backyard, which was fully enclosed by a six-foot-high privacy fence, to get acquainted. Eventually, Jeff and I went inside.
Moments later, one of us glimpsed a gold streak running across the front yard and said, “Hey, isn’t that our new dog?” He really could clear a six-foot fence. But before long, he had no reason to leave.
We named him Logan, and he and Kelsey came to a simple agreement: she was the boss. Always. She herded him, competed with him, chewed on his ears, and “guarded” the shore from him whenever he went swimming (we called her the Coast Guard).His job was to be the willing recipient of her abundant energy. We knew, though, that his real job, for her, was to help her feel safe. And that he did.
He was unusually aloof for a golden. He was laid-back, even-tempered, kind, gentle, and eminently patient. When he saw water for the first time after joining us, he nearly pulled us in! Then, when we let him off leash to swim, for a few terrible moments we thought he was drowning. He went almost vertical in the water and his front legs were wildly slapping at it. We soon realized, however, that he was biting the water as the drops flew into the air. This was how he swam for his entire life!
Five years after entering our family, Logan gracefully relinquished his position as “center of our lives” to become “center of a little girl’s life,” when our daughter was born. I often say that our dogs helped raise our children. Kelsey was always on alert to any sound or cry from them. Logan was always even-keeled, unwavering, reliable and gentle. Our daughter’s heart soon belonged to him and his to her.
When Kelsey passed away three years ago, we were grateful that she left before him. We knew she would never have made it without him.
A year later, on a cold, icy December morning, I called out for Jeff when I realized that Logan couldn’t get up. Jeff examined him and said he had fractured his rear femur. We suspected a tumor. The veterinary surgeon confirmed the tumor and recommended euthanasia. After all, Logan was 14-years-old, at the end of the lifespan of a golden retriever, and surgery would be a lot for an old man like him. I said I needed the night to think about it. We took Logan home and I sat in meditation for several hours, asking what he wanted.
Finally, I announced: “Logan says he has more love to give and more love to receive.” The decision was made. We would have the surgery to amputate his leg. The night after surgery, we slept close. Early the following morning, we awoke to a familiar sound: Logan panting in our faces. On this particular morning, we rejoiced at the sound of it!
When we took him outside, he getting used to only three legs, he did everything he needed to do and then plopped his rear end down in the snow. He turned his nose into the breeze, sniffed the air, and looked ever-so-peacefully upon his surroundings. That moment was one of the greatest spiritual teachings of my life. I saw so clearly how life is worth living simply because it is Life.
Logan did more than learn to walk again. A few short weeks later he was romping down the hill in hot pursuit of our children on their sleds. He loved the snow almost as much as he loved to swim!
We had almost two more good years together. When we opened the veterinary clinic, he quickly became the clinic mascot. He lived fully until his last two days, when he came home from the clinic, laid down on his bed, and didn’t get up again.
Jeff says he went easy on us. I know he is right. Logan left his body the way he lived his life: with gentleness, kindness, grace and supreme equanimity, surrounded by all those he cherished most deeply in his heart. Moments later, we laughed through our tears at the thought of Kelsey guarding the gates of heaven, playing “Coast Guard” once again.
We know, without a doubt, that he earned the title of “Saint Logan.”
Julie and Jeff Smith, DVM, operate Vetcetera Animal Hospital.