Rest Easy, Sweet Boy

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I was praying and hoping that I wouldn’t have to write this post for many more weeks or months…

On Friday afternoon, we had to say goodbye to Einstein. It was the most difficult, heart wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do. I want to thank you for the outpouring of love, thoughts and prayers that you sent our way through comments here on the blog, on Instagram, and through email after I shared Einstein’s diagnosis… it meant so, so much to us.

Between Thursday and Friday, he got progressively worse rather quickly… On Thursday morning when we woke up, he had some blood coming from his nose, and when we talked to the vet, he said he believed it was from the brain hemorrhage and things were likely getting worse… His breathing became much more labored, we couldn’t get him to stand up or walk to the door to go outside on his own, and the dog that loved food more than anything else in the world refused nearly everything we tried to feed him. By lunchtime on Friday, he wouldn’t even open his eyes when we laid next to him, touched him and called his name. We didn’t want him to suffer and it was clear he wasn’t going to get better given what we knew (he had a large brain hemorrhage, numerous nodular lesions in his brain, and additional ones in his lungs); when we got him to the vet, he said we were absolutely making the right decision. It didn’t make it any easier, but it reassured us.

Needless to say, the last handful of days have been incredibly difficult. We’ve been trying to keep busy, but the pain is very real and so overwhelming at times.

I’ve been struggling so much with how suddenly and quickly this all transpired. He had just had a perfect checkup a little over a month ago! It was less than three weeks ago when he was running after Joseph and just seemed to fall down and couldn’t get back up. We thought he would be fine with some rehabilitation, and he WAS doing great, then a week later he had a seizure. I knew then something was probably very wrong, but kept praying it was something that could be fixed. It just breaks my heart that he was sick and we never knew… I don’t know how long the cancer was there, but I just pray so hard that he was never in any pain before this all happened. After Friday, I kept Googling symptoms of brain cancer in dogs to see if there was something that we might have missed, because I just felt so badly that I had somehow failed him, but unfortunately the most common first symptom is a seizure, and the other symptoms would have been terribly obvious, and he never had any of them.

I feel so blessed that my husband loved Einstein just as much as I did, and he took such amazing care of him these last few weeks, rushing him to the vet and animal hospital and moving him around, since I’m massively pregnant and couldn’t do much to help physically. When we first started dating, I told him I was a package deal – I didn’t have any kids, but I had an 80-pound Golden Retriever that sheds way too much and thinks he’s part human, and we were a two-for-one. He never flinched. When we got Einstein’s initial diagnosis, while I was crying, he was online researching alternative treatments, and looking for a homeopathic vet since surgery or cancer treatments weren’t an option. He is simply the best and I could have not gone through this without him.

We had a dog growing up that we got when I was five, Lady, and she lived until I was a senior in high school… Then, a year after my dad passed away my mom rescued a young dog, Bella, and had her until just two years ago, and of course we have Duke… They were/are all absolutely wonderful dogs, but I have never had such an attachment to a dog like I had with Einstein.

I brought Einstein home as a puppy just a couple of weeks after I published my very first post on this blog, wayyyyy back in February of 2007. I was living a couple of hours away from Pittsburgh at the time, was spending a lot of time on my own, and I just wanted a buddy. I’d never had a Golden Retriever before, but for some reason that I can’t even remember now, that was the breed I had my heart set on, and so I got Einstein. I could not have asked for a better buddy… We did everything together. We went on three walks a day, he was always next to me in the house (especially the kitchen!), and was just such an amazing, best friend. He was the most easy going dog, always up for whatever and would do whatever you wanted… vets and trainers always marveled at his amazing temperament. He was the only dog I knew that legitimately LOVED going to the vet. Like, it was one of his favorite places. He’d go in, get up on his hind legs, paws on the counter, like he was checking in… it was hysterical. Then he’d march right onto the scale, and once in the exam room he’d hop right up on the exam table and enjoy the attention.

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If anyone ever doubted that dogs have souls, they would only need to spend a short amount of time around Einstein to be proven wrong. He was so acutely in tune with people and their feelings, it was amazing. There were a couple of times he would hear me crying from a totally different floor of the house, and within a minute, he was laying next to me, head in my lap. My husband tends to get stressed out about stuff, and once we all moved in together, if Einy ever sensed he was getting too stressed (he didn’t even need to raise his voice or anything, I have no idea how he knew), he ran to him, sat next to him, and licked his hand. For a time, I was living back at my mom’s with Einstein and my grandma moved in as well. He seemed to know she was weak – he laid next to her chair every evening so she could pet him, he walked right next to her walker – never in her way – just kind of supervising, and the last week that she spent in the house before she went to the hospital, she seemed fine to us, but he insisted on sleeping on her bed, which he never had done. He always slept upstairs, but when everyone went to bed, for that entire week, he would get on her bed and refuse to get off, even for treats or food (which, hello, he would do ANYTHING for food!). He knew.

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He was the absolute perfect dog for a toddler, as well. It breaks my heart that Joseph won’t remember him, because Einstein was SO incredibly good to him, and watching them together made my heart swell. As soon as Joseph started crawling, Einstein was never more than two steps behind him. Just like he used to supervise my grandma, he would keep an eye on Joseph. Even now that he was walks (and runs!) with ease, Einstein was always close by. My husband and I were looking at pictures a couple of nights ago, and Einstein was always within a few feet of Joseph, even if he was just sitting and playing with a toy and Einstein was laying close by. He let Joseph crawl all over him, and of course loved how much extra food was flung his way!

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He was even amazingly tolerant of Duke… when we brought Duke home as a puppy, he immediately started picking on Einstein, chewing on the fur from his tail, biting his ears… you name it, and he did it. Duke continued that behavior, and a trainer told us a couple of years ago it was likely because of Einstein’s incredibly laid back nature that Duke decided to become the boss so that someone was in charge. I think Duke definitely knew Einstein was sick, though… after Einstein suffered the initial stroke, Duke never once attempted to play with him or nag him, instead just got close, and sniffed him a lot. He has done pretty well so far since Friday (maybe he sensed Einstein was dying?), but I feel so awful for him – I know he’s missing his best friend.

Our house feels lonely and empty without Einstein here with us, and everyday there seems to be some little part of our daily routine that Einstein was a part of that sends me into a puddle of tears… Cutting up Joseph’s banana in the morning (I always gave Einstein the ends), changing Joseph’s diaper on the changing table in the living room (Einstein would always follow us over and lay in the corner), going upstairs at night (Einstein would always walk up first and lay at the top of the steps waiting for the last person before heading into the bedroom)…

He was the best dog anyone could ever hope for, and there will never be another like him. I feel so, so blessed that I got to spend the last nine and a half years of my life with him – he was such a special dog and left a lasting impression on anyone who met him. I wish we had been given more time together, but the time we had was rich beyond belief.

He is so incredibly missed and will be every single day until I get to see him again.

I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures of him from puppyhood through the most recent months… I hope you enjoy watching him grow up 🙂

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He waited for us every single night, and I have no doubt that he’ll be up there waiting for us again one day…

Until we meet again, big guy… Know that you were loved beyond measure, continue keeping an eye on Joseph, and play all of the tug of war you can ❤️

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