Ours has suddenly ended. But we have been reminded that Golden Retrievers make the world a better place. Rescue one, and you can too.
The lights on the Christmas tree are off. The outside lights that we strung this year for the kids are off too. I am not sure when we will turn them back on. Perhaps in a day or two.
The kids are home from school, but the house is quiet. The heat is on, but the house is not warm.
The five stockings are hung by the chimney with care, but one will not be filled this year. My wife, two kids, and I already received our four inexplicable lumps of coal; our beloved Golden Retriever, Cali, has died.
Today, there is a little less joy in a world that desperately needs it.
Cali was an ambassador for happiness. No one could resist smiling when: she stared at you with expectant eyes and wagged her tail; put her head under your hand and flicked it upward to make you pet her; or rolled on her back and waited for you to succumb to the charms of rubbing her tummy. Like chicken soup, she was good for the soul.
Cali was also an ambassador for her breed. She instinctively knew when people did not like, or were afraid of, dogs. She would seek them out, literally smother them with love, and cover them in golden fur. Like a missionary, Cali was determined to convert the world one person at a time.
Unlike so many causes today, however, this one was positive and just. Golden Retrievers have much to teach us about living a good life.
Smile. It always makes you and those around you happier.
Remember life is full of simple joys: a lick of key lime yogurt on a hot summer morning; a caress from someone you love; an unexpected surprise, like a hotdog falling on the floor; or a walk on a beautiful day.
Don’t be afraid to be silly. Do donuts in the yard to make children laugh. Roll on your back if it makes you feel good, regardless of how funny you look. Chase seagulls like you are a four-legged Don Quixote.
Be “glue.” Stick to the ones you love to keep them safe, warm, and happy. Snuggle with those who are down or not feeling well.
Be strong. Protect those who are in danger, even at risk to yourself. Be courageous, as it provides strength to others.
Bring joy and you will receive joy.
Be true to yourself. Always. Wag your tail when you see someone you love, even if you are not well. Roll on your back for a tummy rub, even when you know the end is near. Do not lash out, even though you know fate has not been just. Raise your head one last time because being petted brings you joy and comfort to those around you.
Editor’s Note: I have spent the last 5 months writing about the importance of civic engagement if we want to make the U.S. (and the world) a better place. Forgive the pun, but I don’t think I’ve been barking up the wrong tree. There are, however, other trees worth barking up this holiday season.
If you are still thinking about a Christmas present to your family or a loved one, or if you are thinking about a self-improvement resolution for 2016, I would strongly encourage you to think about: (1) rescuing a Golden Retriever (just Google “golden retriever rescue” to find the rescue organization nearest you); or (2) providing a home for a Golden Retriever puppy that needs one. The world would be a better place if more people owned Golden Retrievers. They are amazing dogs with much to teach us.