I had her name picked out before I even decided to get her. I was in a little drug store that sold beanie babies. I had to wait for a prescription, so I was looking through all of the names the little animals had. The names were so clever… like Freckles the giraffe and Bubbles the goldfish. But the cutest one was Carmel the little Golden Retriever. The little Beanie Baby was the exact color of caramel candy… it was a perfect name!
We had gotten a retriever mix dog from the rescue place and that fellow lives with us for about 3 years. The problem with that dog (BJ)… was he loved to run away. He could actually put his paws in the holes of our chain link fence and jump right over it!! I cannot tell you how many times we all ran, bike rode and drove around our neighborhood trying to convince BJ to come home. He loved being followed and he loved us chasing after him. He also loved car rides so me following him around in my truck was just the cherry on top for BJ!! Well, the last time the dog catcher caught him before we did. The humane society called us and said that they caught him and did we want to come get him because another family there already wanted to adopt him. We said they could have him…. And we hoped they had a wooden fence around their yard. A few months later I saw that golden retriever pups were for sale in a neighboring town. I had the name….. we were off to pick the pup.
Carmel was a good puppy… mainly because it did not eat MY stuff. She did love to nibble on the kids shoes (only one of each pair though) and on all the edges of Pepper’s library books! Carmel also liked nibbling out the eyes of all stuffed animals and all the zippers in everyone’s coats. Yep… Goldens are known for nibbling!!! We had only had her about 5 months when she started acting very sick. A trip to the vet and we found out that all of the stuffing from her bed and several of the kids toys were entangled in her intestines, but not before lots of medical investigations…The vet said an x-ray would be $100, then for infection.. meds were $300, exploratory surgery $600, actual surgery procedure $1200. Ouch! I was not such a big Carmel fan now, even though I was the only member of my family in the waiting room with 2 intact shoes. It is hard not to keep agreeing to pay for more and more medical procedures when the pup is so darn cute and the kids are there with tears in their eyes.
After that Carmel cut way back on the stuffing in her diet (probably because we just never replaced the stuffed animals that she ate!) I have to say, she has always been great with our kids. She let baby Dill crawl all over her, and let little Pete be dragged down the street on her leash. She loves to camp with us… always the first one to jump into the car when she noticed we are packing. A year ago she hurt her hip and could not get up the stairs. For about a month she couldn’t get down the stairs on her own so Pepper and I did a lot of dog lifting because she refused to pee on the newspaper we left her in the kitchen. She moves much better now… running and trying to keep up with the kids on hikes. She and Dill were just running through an apple orchard together. Carmel looks so happy it is almost like she is a pup again. Dill does not remember a time before Carmel.
This summer, before she could go camping with us she needed another rabies shot. The vet looked her over and said she looked remarkably well. He noticed a little growth in her eye and said it was a melanoma. He removed it in the office but said that Goldens carry cancer at a rate over 100 times that of a human. Looking at her, he said she would probably live 1-2 more years.
I told the kids what the vet said. They told me they did not know what to do. I said no one can know when something will be gone but that knowing what the vet is guessing will help us to appreciate her while she is here.
We are camping now. Her hip is fully healed. I know this because Carmel made a running jump into the back seat of my truck to make sure she was not left behind. She has not eaten stuffed animals or coat zippers in several years…. But we still keep them away from her… why tempt fate?! All the kids have two intact shoes nowadays… so her diet has improved. She does attract attention. A little boy was riding his tricycle past our campsite this morning and said, “Look Daddy, a LION!!” And a woman walking a little yippie dog said, “What a nice big, old girl!” (I was glad she wasn’t talking about me!!) Yep... we all love our Carmel girl.