Love & Loss

Our golden Teddy will live in our hearts forever .

I lost my best buddy yesterday and the sadness in my heart actually hurts.

Our magnificent, handsome, loving and sweet golden retriever Teddy passed after an 18 month battle with bone cancer.
While we knew the end was inevitable—the cancer had returned after surgery, chemo and radiation—I never dreamt it would happen so suddenly.
While Teddy had visibly slowed down, he was still full of life; playing  with other dogs, climbing stairs, taking car rides and eating like a champ right up until the end.
But Monday evening, he got up from his perch in front of the TV made a strange face and walked to the corner where he refused to move.
It was like a switch went off and he went from healthy and happy to sick and very weak.
The next morning he couldn’t stand, refused to eat and it was over. Our beautiful boy was gone…
We were assured by Dr. Jim Grubb that it was time. And I could see in Teddy’s soulful brown eyes that he was ready.  I think that was Teddy’s final gift to us, he let us know.
We love Dr. Grubb and his staff. They love our pets and that love is genuine. We knew it was the right decision.
But that doesn’t mean saying goodbye is easy. It’s not. It’s really hard. I held Teddy’s sweet face for the last time, caressed his ears And looked into his big brown eyes and thanked him for being such a good dog. I said it was OK and that I would see him again. And I believe I will.
Diane, his mom and my wife, petted his hair and comforted him. He was at peace. We were heartbroken.
But I don’t want this to be just about Teddy’s death. I want to celebrate his life.
And I want to encourage you to adopt or rescue a pet because they save us, we don’t save them.
We adopted Teddy from Golden Retrievals, a terrific non-profit in Boca run by Linda Ripps.
Linda has become a great friend. She has a heart as big as a Great Dane and has stayed in our lives since the adoption. We are so thankful for her.
The first time I saw Teddy I fell in love. And I fell hard. I’ve had two other pure bred Golden’s and a golden mix so I was already enamored with the breed’s traits which can be summed up in one word: goodness.
Golden’s are just good through and through.
Teddy was a handsome young boy of 5. He smiled, was a complete gentleman and instantly warmed up to Diane, the kids, our birds (who would land on his head) and our other rescue Randy, a high strung but super cool Chihuahua mix that we adopted 16 years ago at the Delray Affair. Randy is still going strong (sort of) at the ripe old age of 17. He’s blind, hard of hearing but still an alpha.
Our friend Rebecca, who has always helped with our dogs, was touched by Randy and Teddy’s relationship. She saw how Teddy tried to help Randy and thought he was so sweet for doing so. But that was Teddy, gentle, caring, courteous.
Yes, dogs can be courteous.
Teddy loved kids especially the Paterson children next door who showered him with bones and hugs.
He loved car rides and would drape his head across the back seat, close his eyes and enjoy the wind in his hair. I’ve never seen that. It was so endearing and a reminder for us to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures.
We would tool around Delray, cruise Atlantic Avenue, tour A1A and sometimes make a pit stop for a treat or a shopping trip to a pet store.
But he would get very interested when we’d get back home to Delray Lakes. He knew and loved his neighborhood and would stick his big head out the window to watch our neighbors as we drove by.
He watched TV, would react to animals he saw on the screen and seemed to understand English.
He never begged for food, but was happy to sample any handouts.
He had several “looks”—worry, a smile, even a snake eye if he stood by the door and you told him to wait until the next commercial.
He loved going to local parks, enjoyed shredding paper and stuffed animals and was devoted to our kids often stealing looks at their phones and laptops as if to say “what can be more interesting than looking at or petting me?”
Teddy loved to watch Diane exercise “helping” her by getting in the way, politely but doggedly demanding toys and rooting her on by rolling around on his back kicking his big feet in the air.
It was a daily show.
He was adorable. He was so good.
He was more than a dog, he was a beloved member of the family.
He stole my heart. I happily let him have it.
And now that he’s gone, he took a big part of it with him.
It’s a bond that I don’t have the words to explain. I’ve felt it before with Rusty, Snowball, Tina, Casey, Sophie, Sunny, Magnum and Randy. So this feeling and this heartbreak is familiar to me.
In time, the good memories will crowd out the crushing sadness of yesterday. It’s not fun to see your big, perfect, strong and loving friend at the end of his time on this Earth. But I know in time, I will remember all the good and there was so much. All the love and there was so much. All the laughs and all the comfort of having a great dog in your life.
“Pet people” will get that. We are heartbroken today and will be for a while. But in time, because of good boys like Teddy and his wingman Randy, we will dare to love again.
I believe, firmly, that dogs know when they are loved. And if you allow them in your heart, as we do, they will love you unconditionally in a way that will enrich your life immeasurably.
Thank you Teddy. No more cancer. No more pain. But I will tell you my buddy …the love will remain.

Comments

  1. I have seen that look and felt that same pain in my heart as I have looked into two different sheltie’s eyes! Love and a knowledge that they could no longer go on! Life is sometimes cruel! You touched that spot in my heart that had been covered up for many years! Now I take joy in others’ dogs! I don’t think I can take that pain again!

    • Jeff Perlman says:

      Thanks for sharing Ted. You are good man.

    • I agree with your comments and feel I have met your dog before. Throughout my life I had my share of dogs and even three cats all loved very much. But the also gave so much love in return. Our last was our golden that we had since a puppy. We smuggled him into our hotel room in Kansas City after getting him from a breeder in Topeka. He was about 12 weeks ands we took him in the all the way back to St. Paul, MN and trained him. He was so sweet and loving 🥰. He ended up with cancer too at about 8 years. We lost him and could never endure that pain of losing another. I am so sorry for your loss. But like us, you will have a future of the best memories.

    • My husband feels exactly as you do and for the same reasons. I cannot live without dogs in my life, because it wouldn’t be worth living. So… he lets me get my dogs. At 67, the cumulative loss of a lifetime is overwhelming in it’s entirety, but he does recognize now that he can definitely love again despite his reservations. And after a few years he can speak about one of our many departed dogs and laugh and cry with joy again for their wonderfulness.

      Perhaps accepting a short short term foster from the animal shelter could help you take that first step. I strongly believe the only way to repair that shattered place within us is to open ourselves to a dog’s love again. And what a way to honor his memory. Teddy would never wish this sorrow on you.

      • Jeff Perlman says:

        So well said Carol. We need a little time to grieve, but I’m sure there’s a few more rescues in our future. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They helped us make sense of our feelings.

  2. this is beautiful. i feel your every emotion and know teddy is up there with all our angels waiting for us to go back to them. much love to you and your family. i know words are never going to make it better, but i know time and your love will.

  3. Charles Shane says:

    Please read the Rainbow Bridge. It brought us comfort when we put down two of our four Goldens. Reeves knew them!

    • Jeff Perlman says:

      I will. Thanks so much.

    • Patty Reed says:

      Your words are So true for everyone who has had to endure the loss of one of their fur babies. It is so, so hard, especially when you have to put them to sleep. I recently lost the last of my 3 Yorkies and I feel your pain. My love to you and Diane.

  4. we are so sad and sorry that Teddy is gone. You will always have your happy memories of your times together. bless you

  5. Mike Sneiderman says:

    I knew you felt that way, you wear your relationship with your pets on your sleeve endearingly! It’s a pleasure to read about. Warmest regards and sympathies to you and Diane.

  6. Kerry Koen says:

    Jeff – you said it all for others to understand…..

    Thanks for sharing the impact that a true friend can have. We share your loss.

  7. Sue Vanderoef says:

    Simply beautiful! We lost our golden in the fall to lymphoma. like teddy, he was playing and eating up until the last day and died in our home right before we were taking him to the vet. Waited for my daughter to get off the bus and we prayed over him and he passed. Went out in classic “golden” style. Love these dogs — nothing like a golden to love. My heart goes out to you.

    • Jeff Perlman says:

      Thanks for sharing Sue. I’m sorry for your loss. I hope it was as peaceful a passing as Teddy had. ❤️

  8. Peter Arts says:

    Excellent eulogy of sorts.

    I never had the privilege of meeting Teddy but thanks to your sharing of your exploits I feel I kind of knew him.

    We have had 2 Goldens and you nailed their temperament in this piece.

    And finally Peace to you and your family.

  9. The love of a dog is like no other. To never know it is the biggest disservice to our heart. I’m so sorry Teddy is no longer in your life, Jeff. He is forever in your heart. Hugging Milo closer as I read your words and imagine your pain. We send you a big, warm hug!

  10. So sorry for your loss, Jeff – we’ll all miss seeing Teddy on your Facebook posts…his expressions were priceless!

  11. Stephanie Pill says:

    I’m sobbing like a baby. I loved Teddy through your posts on Facebook. My heart is breaking for you and Diane and your family and all of us who loved him so much. I never even met him but loved seeing the love he gave you all. Your tribute is beautifully written and so heartfelt. I will miss him too. Big gigantic hugs for you and Diane.

  12. Fran Marincola says:

    Tough loss but the last act of kindness you can do…

  13. Guus van Kesteren says:

    Jeff, I’ve only had a dog once in my life, some 50 years ago. An Irish Setter. Lovely dog. We were very sad when he went to the Big Dog after only three years with us and we never realized that we could get so attached to an animal.
    You wrote in moving words that came straight from your heart about Teddy. Your post was almost twice as long as it normally is, which goes to show your feelings.
    Be comforted by the thought that Teddy gave endless amounts of love and affection to you and yours and that he is now doing the same with the Big Dog and having a great time out there, on the other side of space and time.

    • Jeff Perlman says:

      Guus I think it’s wonderful that you still remember so vividly your long lost beloved setter. I so appreciate you sharing.

  14. Your words are beautiful and they speak the feelings I feel in my heart . I lost my Rocky last August and it was one of the saddest days of my life. As much as I have his memory and his love still in me, I find myself missing him more every day . Thank you for sharing and I hope your heart and your family’s heart heal soon and the pain gets replaced by memories of Teddy’s unconditional love .

  15. A beautiful tribute to an amazing family member.
    These golden angels are with us for too short a time and when they leave a piece of us goes with them. The love stays forever.

  16. Dan Watson says:

    Your words brought back the vivid memory of the day we had to say goodbye to Daisy, our 14 year old Golden who died from liver cancer in 2011. Our experiences were similar. She was diagnosed and we were told she had a few days to a few weeks and she would let us know when it was time. She held on for four months and one day she spiraled down and we took her to our wonderful vet and we said our goodbyes. All dogs are special and losing one is a horrible experience. But there is something about Golden Retrievers that separates them from the others and you’ve captured that well. When we lost Miss Daisy I didn’t want another dog but lost that battle. We rescued another Golden, Kelly, two months later and she is ever bit as special as Daisy and Teddy. Aren’t they all. But Kelly Girl is now 10 and slowing down and I dread the day that is coming sooner than I want. Thank you for stirring my memories and I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Jeff Perlman says:

      What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be thinking of your special girl. ❤️

  17. Ginny Beck says:

    Just a beautiful tribute. I know your pain
    but oh the memories, too. They still put a smile on my face, my Dylan and my Rocky, both Therapy Dogs. Life is so much better with our
    pets. Always in our hearts 💕

  18. I’m reading this almost 2 weeks to the day we said goodbye to our black lab Puck, who was a “brother” to 2 generations of 4 wonderful Goldens. It’s simply heartbreaking, no matter the circumstances. Your heart will fill back up with the memories and happy times…and grieving is simply part of healing.

  19. Sandy Perlman & Fran Fisher says:

    We will miss our darling granddog Teddy. When we dog sat him he would follow Sandy around the house, sit next to him on the couch in order for him to be petted and scratched. He always made us laugh with his antics. When Sandy walked Teddy in our Community, walkers and cars would stop to admire him. RIP in Dog Heaven Sandy and Fran

    • Jeff Perlman says:

      Teddy loved you both. He got excited when we said “hey do you want to go to grandma and grandpa’s house.”

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