My days are spent with an old soul. Like a shadow, he corresponds to my movements, observes me without judgement, and is always along for the ride. We move in tandem with each other, read each other’s thoughts, and keep each other company throughout our days and nights. 

To think that this golden boy is an old soul due to his age would be a mistake. He has had a depth to his being ever since we picked him up as a puppy – when I could hold him in my hands.  From that very first meeting, looking deep into his then blue eyes, I could tell he had an old soul, and that we would always be there for each other. Of course, that is exactly how our years together have unfolded.

Today, the puppy weighs over 100 pounds. He is, by far, the biggest golden retriever I have ever seen, but I imagine he needs to be so big to hold his enormous heart, his super-sized loyalty, and his layers of compassion. He accepts the ins and outs of our days, even when they seem redundant and boring or nerve-wracking. He has that affable, easy-going personality that goldens are known for and wears it well. 

My latest renovation at Crosswinds has been getting the wood floors redone. This requires moving everything out, which I know in his mind, just means MOVING. He’s seen this before, and he does not like it one bit. We have moved ourselves, and don’t even get either one of us started on watching each of the four children move out one by one! Those times have been fraught with emotion and have left us both exhausted and sad. My job is to say,  “It’s okay, buddy – we will be alright”, and his job is to sit beside me and put his head in my lap.

Today while I was painting shelves with a big, furry golden head in my lap, it occurred to me  that we had painted the  shelves seven years ago in the exact same way. I move, he settles in, I paint while I pet him, and then we repeat. How does anyone paint shelves any other way?

Outside, he rejoices at the sight of the wheel barrow and the hose, because some major quality time for the two of us is about to bust loose. Garden chores for me mean tennis balls, Frisbees, and sticks for him.  Yay for the good life! For 11 plus years, I have never been alone in the garden. He is always there happily playing ball or simply lying there enjoying a breeze. I can tell that he is mindful of how great he has it, and that, in turn, reminds me to feel gratitude for the simple pleasures found here in Door County – especially with a big old soul like my best friend Henry.