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Fond farewell to a friend
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Forsyth County News

Last week I lost a friend.

Chaucer, my 11-year-old toy poodle, passed away suddenly and peacefully in his sleep.

I still cannot quite believe that he isn’t sleeping at my feet as I write this.

I got Chaucer just before I started writing for the Forsyth County News, and he has been by my side or at my feet during every single word I have professionally written (and plenty of journaling to boot).

While I wouldn’t call him my muse, I will say he was my trusted, sweet and constant companion.

Growing up, I always wanted a small dog. My three older brothers assured me we would never have a "girlie" dog, and consequently, we always had large dogs — collies, shepherds and Lab mixes.

While I loved those dogs, I longed for the day when I might have a small dog of my own.

During literature class in college, I loved studying about all sorts of famous poets and writers — words and names have always fascinated me. While studying medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer, I daydreamed how I hoped one day to own a small white poodle named after the "Canterbury Tales" author.

Fast forward a few years and there I was with a husband, four young children, and a Labrador retriever —Wolfgang Amadeus or Wolfie for short.

Labs are great dogs for small children, and when Wolfie died of a heart attack at age 5, we got another Lab. Hershey (the kids named her) lived to be 10.

When our youngest child was 3, I told my husband I couldn’t believe I would never have another baby. He laughed and said we had our hands full. How could I possibly want something else to take care of? Yet I did.

For our anniversary that year, he and our oldest son surprised me big time when they brought home a tiny, 5-pound white poodle that jumped into my arms as soon as he saw me.

Never having owned a small dog, I had no idea the many differences that would come with him. My husband used to joke that Chaucer loved me and merely tolerated the rest of the family. That is not entirely true.

Chaucer did seem partial to girls and women. But that was probably because in our home, any teasing was most certainly done by my husband or the boys. Our two girls loved Chaucer, even when he had his grumpy days.

Chaucer was not all that social. He was indeed happiest when he and I were home alone together or barricaded in my bedroom away from the rather noisy members of the household.

He wasn’t much of an outdoor dog either — going out only to do his business and occasionally sun bathe on the deck. The sun bathing only occurred if I happen to be working at the kitchen table and he could see me from his perch.

Except for the last day of his life, there was never a time when I arrived home and didn’t hear him come running to greet me, jumping up and down, acting as if I was returning from a year-long hiatus instead of the corner grocery store.

In some ways Chaucer seemed to sense things on a human level. He always knew when I was sad, and he made sure he stayed close to me then. No matter how annoyed he got with our young children, he knew they were his pack and he had to put up with it.

One time I got a stomach bug, and soon after Chaucer got one too. We both holed up in my room for 24 hours until the virus passed for both of us. Who ever heard of such a thing?

Chaucer was always the alpha dog to Jazz, our 5-year-old Labrador who weighs about 85 pounds. Even Jazz seems a little lost right now. She walks by Chaucer’s bed and sniffs it, wondering where the "boss" is.

I know many of my readers are animal lovers. I always hear from them when I write about pets, birds, squirrels or anything to do with animals.

This is a sad column to write, but it gives me comfort to know how many readers can relate to loving and losing a beloved pet.

Please feel free to e-mail me any pet tales you may have.

 

Forsyth County resident Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at contact@adlenrobinson.com.