It hardly seems like a year since Morgan left us. On February 12th at 3 am in the morning, while lying next to me in bed, he took his last breath. I have thought about him every day since.
Some evenings when I go to sleep, I recall that night. He was having difficulty breathing so we had given him a sedative that we got from our vet. It brought him some comfort. The way he looked at me with his glossy eyes, I knew he was saying good-bye. I felt he was thanking me for our amazing life we had together. I gently stroked his head, over and over again, telling him how much I loved him and thanked him for all our adventures.
Morgan had such a rough start. He came to us aggressive, anxious, and undernourished. Without a doubt, because he was abused, raising him was more challenging than my first two Goldens. But as Auntie Mame says, “Life is a banquet and most poor bastards are starving to death.” We may have gotten off to a rocky start, but our life was definitely a banquet.
I mean what other dog can say he swam in San Francisco Bay with a backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, the Gulf of Mexico in Naples, Rehoboth Beach on the Atlantic while a school of porpoise leaped by, Maine, Cape Cod, and lastly, our own Buttermilk Bay?
What other dog can claim to have hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail in Palm Springs and Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills, overlooking the ocean? Or visited Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge or camped in Acadia National Park? And because he was my service animal, he was allowed to take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park, 8400 feet above the desert floor and hiked even higher.
Mt. San Jacinto State Park was our oasis in the hot months, enabling Morgan and I to escape the heat. The desert floor roasts at 110 degrees, but within twenty minutes we were on the tram to the top where the temperature was a comfortable 75 degrees. We’ve been there during each and every month, in rain, snow, sleet and hail. In the winter, if snow had fallen the previous night, we could be the first people in the park the next day. Morgan loved running and rolling in the snow. I dressed him in silly winter hats and took pictures.
But there were other silly hats that he wore: the big “Mad Hatter” green St. Patrick’s Day hat, the brown Pilgrim’s hat, the black top hat that he donned for the Opera in the Ball Park, the red, white, and blue Uncle Sam’s hat for the Fourth of July, and the red floppy Santa hats that he sported for his pictures with Santa. (See below for those pictures.)
Throughout his life he taught me so many things. First, and foremost, he taught me how to be more patient. Having an abused dog takes extra time to learn the basic socialization skills. I had a refresher course on compassion. My heart reached out to him each time I thought about the abuse he endured before coming into my life. There was the constant forgiving him for his mistakes and for mine. Trusting that we were both doing the best we could.
And of course, I’ll always remember that day at the private trainer’s shop, when I had to decide if I wanted to commit to the work that an aggressive Golden would demand. I looked down at Morgan sitting by my side. He gazed up at me with his sweet face. I reached down and petted his head and determined: yes, I would set aside my hearing problems and my other health concerns and pledged to give Morgan the life all young dogs deserve.
Morgan gave me a lifetime of adventures and memories that I will never forget. Most of all, I miss touching him and telling him he was the prettiest boy in the whole world.;