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I try not to get overly personal here and I hate to do posts that can be kind of a downer. But I would be remiss in not remembering a great friend here.

Yesterday we had to say goodbye to what was certainly one of the world’s greatest dogs. At just about 10 years and 7 months old, our Newfoundland Hudson was sound in spirit but his body was failing him. He suffered a lot of orthopedic issues in his life and they all caught up with him. If he had been a smaller dog, we could have carried him in and out of the house, but this is one of those things you sign up for when you get a giant breed dog. The fact that he was in great health otherwise made this decision that much more difficult for us.

I know that everyone’s dogs are special to them, but Hudson and I had bond from the moment we met. He was a proud beast, who wanted nothing more than to be given a job and carry it out. He did that literally, by carrying in our groceries, getting the newspaper and delivering flowers to me when Mr. Much More Patient would bring them home for me. Most Newfoundlands are excellent swimmers and have a natural instinct for water rescue, but Hudson was special even in that regard. At 8 months old I took him to water rescue training (Newfoundlands can earn titles for water rescue) and he did almost every exercise immediately. We tried three times to get that water title before his joint problems and the resulting surgeries got in the way, and we failed every time on the same exercise: the one where he had to leave my side to go out and take a line to a drowning “victim.”

That’s the thing, he never wanted to leave my side. We achieved other things together. He got a draft title in one try, by my side. We explored the beach together every weekend. We swam in Lake Michigan together, him towing me (and any neighbor kids who were around) over and over again. It was never clear who was having more fun.

As anyone who has had a beloved pet will tell you, the problem with pets is that in the end, you always have to say goodbye.

A friend posted something on my Facebook page this morning: The luckiest people in the world have shared their life with a good dog.

I am indeed fortunate.

22 Responses

  1. We lost our Newf Ozzy December 13, 2014 suddenly… he was only 6 1/2… and we still miss his “presence”… Newfs are such a special breed…. there has not been a week that has gone by without a mention of him… usually accompanied by laughter… how blessed you were to have Hudson for so long…. this paragraph from The Darkest Evening of The Year by Dean Koontz has always given me solace…. I hope it does the same for you…

    “Dogs’ lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such a beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving dogs is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and for the mistakes we make because of those illusions.

    From ‘The Darkest Evening of the Year’
    By Dean Koontz

  2. Hudson was a beautiful dog. I will miss seeing him in your pics. I'm sorry for the pain you are feeling now. I've been through it and I know how difficult it is. I also know you wouldn't trade the time you had with him for anything.

  3. We lost our boy (a 100 lb lab/shepherd mix) when he was 10 years old. That was 10 years ago. Your post brought tears. Still miss him. We are indeed fortunate. He was a very good dog.

  4. Oh Erin, I'm so sorry! I've had three dogs and have never had to say goodbye to two of them (long stories that end with me not having the dogs at the end of their lives). I can't imagine what it will be like when we have to say goodbye to our little Jesse (8 months old now).
    Your trips to the lake won't be the same.

  5. So sorry for your loss!!! He was a handsome fella! I am 5 years into my first dog and can't imagine life without her. I dread the rainbow bridge day.

  6. Oh how sad, Erin. We had a longhaired shephard when I was young and it was heartbreaking when he died at only 9 years old. I haven't owned another dog since. So sorry for your loss.

  7. Erin: It is truly one of the most difficult moments in our life, when we have to say goodbye to our best and loyal friend. The final day with our dog was so awful that I don't think we can ever have another one… I am so sorry for your loss and am thinking of you.

  8. Erin, I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my second dog 23 years ago and only last year did I open it up to a new puppy. I have missed all the fun and love (and mess) and finally said yes to the kids request for a dog. I know where it will end up, but what a ride it will be.

  9. Dear Erin – I am so sorry to hear about Hudson. He was a handsome, gentle giant, and I will miss seeing him on your blog. Do you know the story about pets going over the rainbow bridge? It is one my mother would always tell us whenever we lost a pet. Take care, Loi

  10. What a beautiful boy. Newfs are truly gentle giants, and I am sure he was no exception. I loved seeing him in your Christmas card post thru the years.
    I am so sorry for your loss.

  11. Long time lurker here. He was a handsome boy and every Newf I have known has been a great dog – I am sorry for your loss and you have done a beautiful job paying tribute to him. I have a St. Bernard about to turn 10, and I know his time is coming, and that is something that I do not want to think about. Your friend is right – we are all truly lucky to share our lives with a good dog.

  12. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I sometimes think I kiss our dog as much as I kiss my husband! They are indeed special and we never forgot those we loved.

  13. I'm so sorry about your wonderful Hudson, we're dog people too and it's always so hard to lose them. We had a newfoundland when I was a really little girl- she was super sweet and so calm, I remember getting in big trouble with my mother for running down the hallway and taking a flying leap over her-she was always really still but mom was so afraid we'd accidentally land on her and hurt her. My thoughts are with you guys!

  14. I am so sorry for your loss. (I grew up with Newfies too and know what an awesome breed they are.) There is always that one dog that will always hold a special place in our hearts. Sending you good thoughts and prayers.

  15. A beautiful and well written homage to your loyal companion. Losing pets isn't ever easy and is always truly heartbreaking, but in the end, the fact that you both were able to share your lives together is a wonderful and precious gift. My condolences.

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