What the Wind Blew In

snow, dogs, golden retrieverWe’ve been honoring the anniversary of our dog’s passing. Four years ago, Henry let us know it was time for him to go. My guy and I carried him into our vet’s office, which looked more like a home than a business.

In one of the small rooms we placed our beloved Golden on the soft rug, sitting with Henry as we petted him into pure peace. At his last breath, the vet cried softly with us, and I confess, I continued to pet him for another 30 minutes.

Pt Reyes, golden retriever

Our companion for 12 years.

In the ensuing four years, we’ve missed him, but perhaps strangely to some, we’ve felt his presence. My guy swore he saw Henry sitting by my side while we were watching T.V.  Henry’s been in my dreams, too. I woke up one middle-of –the-night a year ago, my hand petting an empty space beside the bed. In the dream, he was right there with me.

So while my guy and I finished up our winter vacation earlier this month with our left coast family, we spoke of Henry with joy and respect for the 12 years he gave us, for the unconditional love he displayed.

My guy flew back to our New England home before me while I stayed with friends.  Because of the nor’easters that played havoc with planes, trains, and automobiles, I arrived home two days late.

My guy picked me up at the airport. As we approached our place 40 minutes later, he interrupted our catch-up conversation, cleared his throat, and said, “Something strange was waiting for me when I got home.”

That got my attention.

“What?” I asked, trying to not get stressed after a tranquil time away.

“I’ll show you,” he continued, rather mysteriously. After we parked the car, he pointed to a tiny object by our front door. “This.”

The object was less than an inch high, ceramic, with a small string attached at the top.

“Oh!” I said. “That’s an ornament from our Christmas tree.” Odd, since we de-frocked our tree of all decorations on January 1, placed it in the woods next to our house for three days, and then onto the curb where our local recycling truck picked it up on January 4.

I picked up the tiny white ornament, shaped like a snowman, and gasped.

A name was etched across it:

Henry. golden retriever, pets

I remembered that 15 years ago, I’d found this bauble at a store and bought it for our Christmas tree. We hung it up every year for Henry, and continued to trim the tree with his little ornament even after he was gone.

My guy looked at me with wide eyes.

I returned his mystified expression with a smile.

“I told you, Henry may be gone, but his energy still finds a way to say hi.”

March, New England, springThe ornament is now hanging on our kitchen window, where I have a feeling it will stay even after the daffodils finally bloom outside.

151 thoughts on “What the Wind Blew In

  1. This just might be one of my favorite stories *ever*. I may or may not be teary-eyed at this exact moment in time. My heart fills for dear Henry. I’m sure he is very pleased with himself for learning this new trick, ha! 😉

    What a gem of a dog ~ ~ ~

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  2. OMG, Pam, what a touching story. I’ve never owned a Henry, but my daughter has two she and her guy love with all their hearts. When they have to say good-bye to their Henry, which won’t be for a long time yet we hope, I know they will grieve just as you do, and my heart grieves in sympathy. That little ornament is just beautiful and I think it’s found it’s permanent spot, just as Henry did in your hearts. Enjoy his present presence.

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    • I try to not be sad about Henry not being ‘here,’ here. Particularly when he shows us in so many ways that he’s still HERE, in our hearts, and sometimes, in a little ornament waiting outside the door. Dogs’ lives are too short, but they teach us SO MUCH about enjoying every moment while they’re alive.

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  3. No, I’m not crying, Pam–just something in my eye. 😉
    Pets are special, and this is a wonderful tribute to Henry and the love you all shared. After my younger daughter’s much beloved cat suddenly died when she was a senior in high school, she was sure she felt his ghost–and I did, too.

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  4. Aw, Pam, you brought me to the brink of tears! Julie Anne and I had to put Toby down in 2001…our most loving and beautiful Golden. Almost identical story: vet’s exam room – I sat on the floor with Toby, petted him, held his head in my hands, kissed him and bawled until the needle did its job – Julie Anne next to us, crying. It is one of the toughest occasions to endure…I still miss him so much everyday…my very best friend! ♥ Your husband is a good man – give him a hug from me! AND, him, to you!

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  5. I feel your pain. Dogs speak to us in ways that people never do. It was months after Misty died that Walter said we needed to get another dog to keep Molly company. I think it was more for him. He grieved so for Misty that he needed a new distraction. Max has so many similar qualities that Misty had. I feel Misty is working through Max to bring us joy!!!

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  6. Awwwwww……. that is so sweet. I’m sure Henry is with you. He was a beautiful dog! I love the pics of him. I had to put my precious Parker to sleep last month. He was 10 days shy of his 13th birthday. He is the 3rd Springer we have lost. I miss my baby so much so I know exactly how you feel and I know mine hangs out with us from time to time, just like his older brother does. I feel them both… My little Yorkie was lost for a couple of weeks without his bubby but he seems to be doing well now. I think I want to get another dog though because he has never been alone. We had 4 other critters (2 dogs and 2 cats) in our house when we brought him home and now he is by himself. School is keeping me slammed right now so it will be summer before I can consider another pet but I am looking forward to having a new puppy. ❤

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    • I am so sorry to learn about Parker, Courtney. Your loss is still so fresh. We kept Henry‘s collar on the lamp post in our home office after he died, and every once in a while it would move around. That was our first clue that no, he never left. My heart goes out to you. 😘

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    • Funny, so many writers worry about being too “sentimental” or “sweet,” but really, if we pay attention and think about it, life (and pets and children and best friends and lovers) spread sweet messages all around us, if we look and listen. Hugs to you, Marian. xo

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  7. I had no idea that pets could offer such an unconditional love till I met Luke, my daughter’s loving pet who taught me what he could offer though I kept my distance from him. He could understand that and wouldn’t say anything but each time he came to the living room for family time, he would choose the place next to me on the couch, I had to move a little to respect his sentiment and within few days, he made a mark on my heart and the right to keep his face on my lap! I was as touched as your story of Henry.

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    • Dogs have a way of burying into our hearts even if we’re not ready for that. My daughters Golden, Charlie, has done that with me and my guy. We dog sit him every once in a while since we don’t have our own dog anymore. Charlie can be a bit of a mischief maker, but then he sits on feet and just looks up at me with such adoration. 😛 Enjoy every special moment with Luke. XO

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  8. This one I felt down deep to my core, because it’s something I relate to in that deep spot. Our Piezon (phonetically spelled for Paesano in Italian), used to drop hints for us that he was around. We haven’t had one of those signs in a long time. I miss those. I’m heartened to hear that your Henry is still saying ‘hi’ where he can. I love that you woke up petting him. I used to have similar dreams of Piezon. I have a page on my blog dedicated to him. He became our child, because we couldn’t have the human kind. Thanks for sharing Henry’s “hello.”

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    • You are not the only one who cried at my Henry story. And of course my page was soaked with my tears as I wrote this. But I believe that Kushie is always right there with you, as well as with the roses. 🌹

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  9. My wife lost her beloved cat a few years ago, and she’s had very similar experiences at night in bed as the one you mention with your hand-petting. George Carlin described owning a pet as “Little tragedies in the making” the first time you bring them into the home, which I suppose is true. But they also give us wonderful memories too. Great post. – Marty

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    • Oh that George Carlin — “little tragedies in the making.” Well, that’s one way of looking at it for sure. Our pets snatch our hearts right away, don’t they? And then they keep hold of them forever. ❤

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  10. Oh my goodnes – EVERY word about Henry resonates with me. We’ve been through this (and still do suffer after 5 years). What a beautiful dog Henry was – I can see what a massive loss he is and I feel for you.
    We had Charlie – a long haired German Shepherd Labrador cross. He too was ‘put to sleep’ by the vet while we were helpless with misery at his passing. He was just six and went from healthy to death’s door from a mystery illness in a very short time.

    It appears to have been lungworm caught from eating slugs in the back garden. After he died, warnings began to appear in vet’s offices because there was an outbeak but we had never heard of it. We too have Charlie moments so I know exactly where you are coming from. To this day, we have not got another dog – he was just not replaceable. Thanks for sharing this, mostly only dog owners would understand it.

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    • Ahhh, your Charlie sounds like a dear. And what a wonderful mix – German Shepherd Labrador. Charlie must have been extremely bright. A tragedy, that he died so early in his life. But I’m not at all surprised that you have Charlie “moments.” What a gift! We also have not been able to get another dog. ❤

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  11. There are many instances in my life where animals (and occasionally people) I have dearly loved have come to visit.I recentlyI did a post on my next door neighbor’s cat whom I’ve known for 10+ years, and who spent part of every day saying hello, spending some time with me. I just loved him. Last week, while sitting on the top of 3 back porch stairs, I heard a thunderous scamper across the length of the porch to me. Of course, there was no one visible, but I knew. For those of us who love animals, we will always have a menagerie … in one form or another. Henry undoubtedly makes himself known to the people who love(d) him so dearly.

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  12. So beautiful. We still miss our beloved Aussie “Mango”. He travelled with us to Nicaragua and was treated like a celebrity there on the streets. He was beautiful it was true with his colors and long fur, but it was his stubborn personality and his intelligence that stood out. In Nicaragua he got tick fever and we knew that would take its toll. Years later, but before his natural time we had to allow him to go in peace. He left, too soon cradled in my youngest sons arms. Recently on a trip back to Chicago, we took Mango’s ashes to his favorite dog park and scattered them about. I often feel as though his spirit is with me, taking care of me and watching out for me. Thank you for a beautiful post and tribute.

    Peta

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    • Mango – what a good name for a good-looking Aussie. Tick fever is so tough on dogs. Henry got infected by a tick when young, but the antibiotic he was put on (and then a tick vaccine every year) seemed to help him a lot. Wonderful that you were able to spread Mango’s ashes at his favorite dog park. Sigh. In the SF area where we were when Henry died, the ashes of beloved pets are placed in a “Pet Garden” that is beautified with flowers and shrubs. When our first golden, Tory, died just as we were moving, we placed her ashes in the yard outside our new home and planted two trees – Rose of Sharon – on either side of Tory’s ashes. The trees for evermore were called Rose of Tory. May we always feel the spirits of our loved pets close at hand. xo

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  13. Dear, dear Pam…what a love of a story and a dog!!! I felt Henry’s presence through your story…
    David and I had Charlie Bear (beloved cat) for 17 years until it too, was time to say farewell.
    He slept between us the night before–and we loved him through the night.
    When it was time for him to go with David…he looked at me with those big brown eyes and
    I told him we’d see each other again…and he believed me! I know that Charlie and David are
    frolicking in Heaven now….Thank you for this wonderful story…

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    • Ohhhh, Pat. You and David gave Charlie Bear enough love for ten. And I bet you’re right – do you hear a soft meow sigh every once in a while, and then of course David’s mischievous chuckle….?

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  14. It always so hard to lose a loved one but sometimes especially hard to lose a beloved pet. Where else can we consistently get unconditional love? The fact that we feel their presence even after they are gone does not surprise me. The healing process though is difficult. We are facing that with my daughters golden right now. He still has time but definitely on the decline. A difficult journey ahead as he is her first dog on her own and they have a unique bond. I suspect though, in the end, the universe will also take care of her and him. Thanks for sharing Pam.

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    • Ohhhh, I feel for your daughter and her upcoming loss. But dogs can stay a bit longer than expected sometimes; the love keeps them around even when their pain and their body encourages them to leave. I think you’re spot on about the unconditional love. So many lessons we learned from Henry. xo

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  15. Pingback: What the Wind Blew In – Pamela S. Wight | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  16. Pam, this is a wonderful, loving tribute of a story about a beloved family member that obviously will always be in mind, in heart…and in the kitchen window as well. At least until Christmas comes…when that symbol might wind up setting up temporary residence on a special tree. Henry’s energy alone will provide its Holiday glow!

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  17. Oh my goodness I have goosebumps reading this. These things may not be explainable but I love to think their remains a connection and energy with those we love. So sorry to hear about the loss of Henry four years ago. The description of your beloved pup’s departure has commonalities to those with our own pup. Hard on the heart saying goodbye to these loyal friends.

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    • Saying goodbye to Henry was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. I think about this sometimes – we should be sobbing more about family and friends. But then I realized – our pets ARE family and our best friends. xo

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  18. Pam, wow! 😀 I get gentle goosebumps reading this … Henry looks adorable and what an amazing friend you had in your lives. He will never be forgotten by you ..but perhaps letting you know he hasn’t forgotten you either. The loving and gentle tone of this post makes my heart glow. ❤️

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