Last Time to Manzanita

Kelley and I spent a lovely day at Manzanita Beach today with our pups, Luna the always-energetic Aussie, and Mila the Chewennie. Early in our walk, an older woman approached us with a gorgeous older golden lab, with a pronounced limp and obvious discomfort walking. She was such a lovely old girl.

Older dogs are sacred, beautiful spirits in failing bodies, elegant octogenarians of the canine world. Some have signs of hurt, or even abuse in their long-in-dog-years lives. Some are rescued from tough situations and find their love and trust again.

But the most special, the dogs that make my heart burst from my chest with love, are the gentle life companions like the girl in front of us, Charlotte. She was at once both charming and heart-wrenching, limping to the sea. We stopped and talked to her human, after waving a cheerful hello.

Unbidden, Charlotte’s story spilled forth. She was indeed an old and elegant dog, a deeply loved life companion. The pain of imminent loss spilled from her human, voice barely cracking with traces of deep sorrow.

“This is her last time to Manzanita today, her last time to the ocean. It’s her favorite place, and she’s a very sick girl with only a few days to live.”

Speechless, I stroked Charlotte’s head, sending her on her way with love and kindness. “She is a beautiful girl. She’s a beautiful soul”, I said.

As they walked away, my heart played a sad song, remembering another very special person, and her favorite beach. There is a storm of sorrow within me as I approach the first year mark, that day on the calendar my Mom passed last year.

I looked long at Charlotte walking away, and took her photo. I want to remember another elegant, beautiful soul. I think Charlotte would love my Mom. I hope she says hello when they see one another on their favorite beach, where Charlotte doesn’t limp and chases balls on the beach all day.

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