Nearly a decade ago my wife, Tracy, went to Edon, Ohio to have some curriculum translated into Spanish. She came back with a dog. We were preparing to fly to Tijuana for a mission trip when our friend, Nancy, told us that she knew a woman from her home school group who could translate for us. Tracy took her lessons with her and they were dutifully translated. While there, however, she fell in love with a litter of fluffy golden retriever puppies. One – the runt as it turned out – stole her heart.
Tracy came to my office begging to buy the dog. The $200 was more than we could afford, but I love my wife and wanted her to have this small joy. We paid a deposit, tied a ribbon around the pup’s neck, and waited for her to be weaned. “Adoption day” finally arrived, and we eagerly gathered in our energetic ball of fur with her non-stop tongue. As we wrote the check to pay for her, the breeder told us, “I could have sold this one five times over. Everyone seems to want her.”
We took her home and gave her a name: Emma Jean Wagglesworth.
For 9 ½ years Emma has been a part of our family. We dressed her up at Christmas as a reindeer and took her to the nursing home. She wore Colts gear along with the rest of the family during last season’s Superbowl. Quiet and obedient, Emma Jean understood her place in our family: companion, foot warmer, fetch player and entertainer.
When, four years ago, Maggie Sue came to live with us, Emma finally had a canine companion – someone to tussle with when the humans were away. Emma and Maggie went everywhere together. On one occasion, when the backyard gate was left open and the pair had the opportunity to get into mischief, they instead walked around to the front of the house, plopped down on the porch, and waited for someone to open the door and let them in.
We noticed Emma slowing down this last year. Before our move to Michigan, she looked like she was losing weight. When the dogs received their “pre-move checkup” we discovered Emma had diabetes. She lost weight rapidly, began losing fur, struggled to swallow her food. With her prognosis grim and her condition worsening, we determined to make her death merciful and asked my veterinarian cousin to help us to ease her passing.
Our dear friend Emma died today. She passed on surrounded by her family, sleeping on her dog bed, wrapped in Tracy’s arms.
I am going to miss her more than I can express.
I grew up on a farm – the son of a farmer, the grandson and great-grandson of farmers – so the living and dying of animals is nothing new to me. I supposed that I would take today’s passing of our pet in stride like I did when I used to sell my 4-H animals at the county fair.
I was wrong.