Friday, April 26, 2013

When you are given a chance, take it!

I will be honest, this isn't easy. I haven't talked much about Bridger since he passed away. Bridger, my Chocolate Lab, was more than a dog. He was a confidante, an alarm system, a kitchen sweeper (tail & tongue), a hiking buddy, a date detector (is a guy good enough or not?), and a great traveling friend. 

As for CONS...
He didn't care too much for poetry or... Sex and the City episodes. Whenever the show's opening music started, Bridger shuffled off the couch or got up off the hardwood floor. It's like he knew it was his time to go to the bedroom or his pet cave/man cave, the basement. Girl SHOW! I'm outta here. I even watched "chick flicks" in his presence but that one show always seemed to be just a bit too much for his delicate canine senses. HA!

Back to his favorites: Bridger loved Christmas!
That boy sniffed a present before you opened it. "For me?" If it was for him, his tail shook wildly hopefully not near the tree full of ornaments or cups of coffee on the table. For those who don't know a Lab tail, it is swift, thick, fast, and can clear coffee tables in a single swoop, flip a collection of graduate school books from a temporary nesting spot, and much more -- as you will see. His tail actually did catch fire once -just once- early on as a young pup. He didn't even yelp! Good boy! He got his tail in the flame of one of my big jar candles. I was busy with something else and saw smoke... Smoke coming from his tail.

"Oh no," I thought.
I quickly patted him with the nearest towel.
Emergency averted. 
Lab pup smiling.  As if nothing ever happened. 
Tail still right next to pumpkin candle.
I moved the candle. Happy dog mom and safe pup!
For so long that is how
 I remember him: my boy! 
Even now a year and some months later with a new pup in my life-I adore my King Charles Cav-there is still a lab-shaped hole in my life. I still cry on occasion. I'm the type of person who sleeps with her dogs, doesn't count the dog hairs-probably a MAJOR fashion faux-paw (lol)- and even on occasion gets a peck on the lips. OK, a lot of kisses! I love my dogs. I considered Bridger my son. I just called him my "boy" above. I still do. He will forever be my boy! I had wonderful memories with him. He had a rebellious, protective nature that got him into a few problematic situations over the years but overall he was a GOOD BOY. His biggest crime: being a momma's boy! 
I'm telling you all this because the other day my mom and I were in our neighborhood coming back from one of my doctor appointments (imagine that!). It has plenty of walking paths, so people often jog, speed-walk, and go for strolls with their dogs. We see all kinds of breeds from short and fluffy to long and lean. Mix breed to any regal blend you desire.Dogs too. Ha! It is always interesting to ride home around 4-7 p.m. this time of year. It's a pet magazine on display! 
So the other day we are turning into our subdivision and mom and I are talking about the doctor visit. Mom slows the car down and says suddenly, "Don't look." But I already see IT. Lately, it has been so hard to look at any kind of Chocolate Lab hence the big message, "Don't look!" Even this many months later into my grief cycle, I'd just rather not see 'em. I know for some people it sounds crazy or ridiculous but it is what I have to do to make it through. As we get closer to the pair, I see it is definitely what I thought. 

"Oh boy," I think. Memories start clicking in my mind. Polaroids of the past come flooding back: hiking in the Idaho mountains, hogging the tent, playing with mom's dogs, enjoying our own walks in the neighborhood and the adventures we found ourselves in. 
Mom slows down to make the corner toward home.
I make an unexpected statement -- even for me.
"I want to go meet him."
"He sounds great."
Mom thinks I am referring to the surgeon the podiatrist offered as a possible option in town.
"No, Mom. The dog. Right now."
I know I probably sound like a child in that moment but I don't care. 
It was about getting outside of my comfort zone. It was about meeting one of Bridger's kin --another Chocolate Lab. 
I was ready. In think I was ready.
Mom turned the car around without question and drove down another street to catch up with the dog and his walker/owner.
The worry crept in. My worry about what someone else my think.
"This is too crazy, right? Petting someone's dog out of nowhere?"
"No. Go ahead," she says pulling up the pair. "I've already turned around."
I thought about Bridger and getting to connect to a Chocolate Lab again. Plus, the dog looked eerily like him.  
I'm doing it. 
Right NOW.

The window goes down. Somehow words roll out.
"Hi, my dog passed away about a year ago and he looks just like yours. Would you mind if I pet him?" 
"Sure," the owner says.
By this time I am out of the car, tears are forming. I can truly see just how close the two dogs are: rich, velvety brown eyes; broad, thick body, and a tail that could easily clean a coffee table. 
I immediately start to sob. 
Oh no.
"His name is Harley. He loves meeting folks, don't ya buddy? "
I tell Harley hello between sobs. Barely. I touch his head and back and realize it is like touching Bridger's smooth, almost silky coat. I quickly tell the guy thank you and how much it means to me. I get back in the car and the guy jogs off with Harley, the Chocolate Lab.

I just knew Bridger's spirit was alive in those few minutes. Petting this dog allowed me to remember different details with Bridger and I was able to connect AGAIN. It was a bittersweet. At the same time, priceless. Those few moments were like a rare jewel, a drink of an exotic flavor, or the conversation you've been waiting to hear. It puts moments on a pedestal. Little moments are indeed special. Don't ignore them as insignificant. A series of little moments might put you on the path to something rather LARGE.

I mentioned earlier that I worried before meeting the guy what he might think of my request. Life is one shot. Too short, my friend! It's like that one Pinterest poster that says Life happens outside your comfort zone. That made me nervous yet I wanted to do it and I did.

To go home, we had to do a U-turn and I saw Harley and his owner again. I waved and smiled big. Right through the tears. It was a small moment with a big reward. 

Isn't that what life is all about? 

These are the memories we keep.

 ©The Healing Redhead


  1. Beautiful! From the heart!

  2. Bridger was quite the dog! Every time we met, he terrified me for the first five minutes but after that, we hung out quite peacefully. I think I told you once his tail was powerful enough and fast enough that we should think of somehow producing electricity or something with it. Big hug, Leslie. Take care.

  3. I love this post, Les! It brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't help but remember our hike to Asotin Creek with all the dogs and how Indi jumped in next to ol' Bridger in your Subaru. :) A big hug from Idaho, friend!

  4. BTW, I'm still disppointed he didn't like Sex and the City. So sad... ;)