When I first met Tom in the bowling alley long ago, he told me he had a dog and suggested that maybe we could take him for a walk. I wasn’t a pet person per se, but I figured I could handle a little lap dog (as long as it didn’t try to lick my face, that is).
“What kind of dog do you have?” I inquired. “His name is Farley and he’s a Golden Retriever.” Tom replied. (Okay, not only does this man have a dog, he has a big dog. In my opinion, anything that was taller than my kneecap was a big dog). Needless to say, I fell in love with Tom and with due time, I fell in love with Farley.
Early in our relationship, Tom went on a trip to Scotland/Ireland and Farley stayed with me for 10 days. Farley was four years old at the time. I’ve never been alone with a dog, let alone for 10 days. But I knew if there was going to be a long-term relationship with Tom, Farley was going to have to be in the picture.
During those 10 days, Farley and I started to bond. He didn’t listen to me at first (and I’m not so sure he listened to me 10 years later), but overtime, he and I became buds. My “favorite” memory of Farley during this time was going for our first walk. It had snowed earlier that morning and the air was pretty cold. I dutifully brought a bag with me to scoop up his doggie doo. When Farley finally did his business, I put my hand in the bag like a glove and reached down to get the poo. I didn’t realize there was a hole at the bottom of the bag and ended up grabbing a handful of…stuff. The word that came out of my mouth and what I actually grabbed was ironically the same thing.
As the years went on, Farley and I bonded even more. We went on walks, I would throw the ball to him, and even fed him table scraps when Tom wasn’t looking. Yes, Farley and I had fun.
Then the kids came.
All of a sudden, I just didn’t have the same amount of time for Farley that I once had. Although Farley did wonderfully with the kids and never once showed any aggression towards them, I just couldn’t find the time to take him on as many walks or throw as many balls. But I still had time, I justified to myself. And Farley waited patiently.
Then we opened our catering business.
I went from being busy to being extremely busy. There was culinary school to finish, cooking competitions to compete in, and all the endless tasks that needed to be done to get our business off the ground. On top of all that, I still had the young kids. But I still had time, I justified to myself. And Farley waited patiently.
Before I knew it, 10 years had passed since I grabbed Farley’s poo through that bottomless bag. We’re in our new house now, the kids are in school, and our catering business has blossomed.
While I would be working in my home office, Farley would come and nudge my arm to let him outside. I usually put him in the front yard where he could be tied up. By now, Farley was getting old and was consistently roaming the neighborhood. But many times, Farley didn’t want to go out the front. He wanted to go to the backyard, where the sun was warm and he could roll around freely in the grass. But because we didn’t have a rope back there for him, I didn’t let him out there very often. You see, I was too busy. I couldn’t take a few moments out of my day to watch him in the back to make sure he didn’t run off. And besides, I didn’t want the yellow burn marks in the grass from him peeing. I still had time, I justified to myself. Not much time, I knew, but some time. And as always, Farley waited patiently.
Last night, however, Farley stopped waiting patiently. I had finally run out of time. Our dear dog, which was 14 years and 10 days old, couldn’t wait anymore and bid us farewell. It was heartbreaking.
Despite my shortcomings, however, I knew that Farley had a very good life with our family. There are plenty of loving memories to hang onto. As I sadly look outside my office window at those yellow burn marks, I realize those marks don’t matter. If anything, they actually brought new meaning. They were proof that a beautiful, well-behaved, well-loved dog once lived here.
Friend, please don’t mourn for me
I’m still here, though you don’t see.
I’m right by your side each night and day
And within your heart I long to stay.
My body is gone but I’m always near.
I’m everything you feel or hear.
My spirit is free, but I’ll never depart
As long as you keep me alive in your heart.
I’ll never wander out of your sight
I’m the brightest star on a summer’s night.
I’ll never be beyond your reach
I’m the warm moist sand when you’re at the beach.
When you start thinking there’s no one to love you,
You can talk to the Lord up above you.
I’ll whisper my answer through the leaves on the trees,
And you’ll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze.
Good-bye Farley, we love you. Farley Moore, April 20, 1998 – April 30, 2012.