Last week Wednesday, sadly said goodbye to my friend, art studio mate, protector, and family member Trout. His health had been slowly declining but the fourteen-year-old golden retriever had been chugging along. However, he gave me a sign and I felt my heart sink. Sometimes people and creatures come into one’s life and make a difference- Trout was an example.
It might be difficult for some to understand why a dog could be such an important part of a person’s life. As a result, wanted to share how his life had meaning. He was given as a gift from my father at the beginning of rebuilding a relationship. Trout was a symbol of a fresh start, adventure, trust, kindness, and forgiveness.
When applying to graduate schools, didn’t get accepted into one Wisconsin home state school. As a result, my decision was narrowed down to Norte Dame in Indiana or Academy of Art College in San Francisco. As a result, Trout and I along with a bag of treats (carrots) made the journey from the Midwest in a red Volkswagen Jetta to California. On that trip, he scared off a group of men from breaking into the vehicle at a gas station. We encountered a fierce firestorm that closed the highway and was forced to stay a night in Winnemucca, Nevada. Upon finding the last available hotel room that allowed dogs, Trout made a run for the indoor swimming pool and slid into a glass entrance door like a character in a cartoon. Luckily, didn’t get kicked out after much pleading. However, he proceeded to destroy all the towels in our room.
After graduate school, Trout went to my art studio every day. In West Oakland, he saved me from attempted robberies, jumped on top of me during a shooting, and would make his presence known if a shady character tried to engage. He knew the “no zones” in the studio and wouldn’t get close to the art during certain process stages. Trout was notoriously known for “borrowing” my studio mate’s socks and “hiding” them at the back of his crate. He made neighborhood kids smile and enjoyed belly rubs for free.
Did I mention that he survived a pit-bull attack in Berkeley? My husband and I were walking Trout early one morning as part of our daily routine. A neighbor’s pit-bull ran across the street and gauged his neck, tore opened his arm, and punctured a hole in his chest. We fought the dog off and took Trout to the vet. Trout survived because of his metal prong collar. Without it, the vet said he would have died.
As I said my last goodbyes, told Trout that we would meet again and “goodnight, my good friend.” Watched his last breath while the vet gave the final shot of a “destination heaven cocktail” while petting his beautiful golden hair. It was peaceful, the right thing to do, and didn’t want to say goodbye but knew in my heart it was time.
Trout always looked at me as a better person than I could be. I hope that I can strive to be that person. To be honest, liked him better than most people: didn’t lie, cheat, have a secret agenda BUT he did steal a part of my heart in the end. He was an old soul that perfected the “hug” that will be missed but never forgotten. There will be an endless source of tomatoes, Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy ice cream, spray whipped cream, beer, and love waiting for him on the other side…