My Angel

Abbigail Vanderdogan

July 2006 – January 2015

It is with a heavy, broken, painful heart, that I blog today. Eight years ago, the most beautiful and sweet blonde ball of fur came into my life, and stole my Texas-sized heart. From the moment I picked her up, and she nibbled on the chin, I knew we were destined to be together. Since that day, in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in San Angelo, Texas – Abby, my beautiful golden retriever … was my most loyal, and trustworthy friend.

Abby, or Abbigail, was the perfect dog. (I know, we all think that about our pets, and we should, because they all are.) She was the glue that held all of the other pets together. She was gentle, and smart, kind and funny. I know it seems so strange to hear these commonly human attributes describing a dog – but she was all of those things, and I’m convinced that she always had a “human” soul.

When she was less than a year old, I held her and we danced to Nora Jones’ “Come Away with Me”. I don’t think she ever forgot that moment. To me, it was a chance to hold her close while I waited for paint on a dresser (that was a disaster DIY project BTW) to dry. For her, it was different. Whether Nora Jones was playing or not, if I was in the room – Abby wanted to dance. She wanted to be in my arms, me holding her – much harder at her 120 pounds than at her 12.

She loved to swim, as most retrievers do. At the lake, she and her doggy brother, ‘D’ would fetch a tennis ball from the water to dry land. One day, ‘D’ a Boston Terrier who oddly enough also loves the water – but shouldn’t, got a little too overzealous. Before I had a chance to get all the way out to him, Abby had figured out that he was struggling, swam back to him, grabbed him by the collar and brought him to me. She then swam back out to get her ball – and came up to shore tail wagging to do it all over again.

She more than tolerated the cats, which I assure you was a difficult task. Abby had hip dysplasia, most golden retrievers do, I’ve found; and she needed to always have a soft bed to lay on. However, if the cats had taken up residency on her bed, she’d lay on the hard floor before forcing them to find a new spot.

She routinely ate a perfect half of the food in the food bowl she shared with ‘D’. We tried giving them separate bowls, but they ended up only eating half of each others food. She was so gracious and patient. Abby was one of only three puppies born in a litter of a very young mother. She had gotten pregnant unintentionally, and the breeder was afraid none of the puppies would make it. Two of them did, and Abby’s mom wouldn’t allow them to feed. So, the breeder, who also owned a daycare, bottle-fed Abby and her sister at the daycare among all those children until they were old enough to be homed somewhere else. I think that’s why Abby was so gentle, and patient.

She knew when I was sad. And in her old age, she wasn’t shy about telling me that she wasn’t too happy about things either. She loved to sing, and dance, and take rides in the car. She loved a good road trip, and never, not once made my life difficult. Abby was always a joy to be around, always! Even when she’d get home from the groomer and begin rolling around in the dirt and mud, she still made me laugh with her goofy face and wide, loving, puppy-dog smile.

She never quite grew out of her puppy stage, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

On Tuesday morning, Abby suddenly, and without pain or warning left us, with shattered and painful hearts. We still are not clear on what happened, but we suspect that she may have had a sudden heart attack, or brain aneurism. I have known so many people who have had to face very difficult situations with their pets, making decisions to end their lives so that they don’t have to suffer. Abby, true to form, didn’t force us to make that difficult decision. And while I am crying as I write this, thinking about how lonely I am without her, I know that she had a wonderful life, with two loving fathers, a doggy brother, and two pestering feline twins that don’t quite know how to go on without her.

For 8-years, Abby taught me how to be a true friend.

She taught me that love can be unconditional.

She reminded me that I had to make time to play, and explore.

And most importantly, you can be (and should always be) both beautiful and kind.

She was and will forever be my perfect little girl.

I’ll miss her … forever.

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