There are some dogs I never want to meet at the Bridge. I know I am going to meet them all, it would be easier to stop the tide from rushing in, but I still dread their appearance. Chelsea Johnson is one such dog.
But Chelsea did arrive this week. I stood next to her brother Junior, who had appeared less than a year before, a dual loss much too difficult for any parent to bear. But, their Mom is Kristi Johnson, one of the bravest and most kind-hearted dog moms we know. Her heart was crushed. But she would not be laid low for long. She has a very strong will. That will have delayed Chelsea’s trip to the Bridge. She gave her pup the strength to keep her heart beating long after her heart beats had run out.
Many of you who are reading this know, Chelsea, if you don’t, then I am very sorry because Chelsea is a magnificent dog. Loyal, strong, and brilliant Chelsea is a pup to aspire to. Her mom often referred to Chelsea as her rock. She was a dog who said, “put the load right on me.”
Chelsea was approaching her 15th birthday when the weight she bore throughout her life finally became too much to carry. Chelsea’s spine could no longer support her. Her every step was painful. She stopped taking food and water. Her mom didn’t want it to be so, but she knew: Chelsea had given her every drop of devotion she had. It was time to take away her pain and let her become immortal.
A short time later Junior and I saw her walking through the clouds towards the Bridge. She was walking tentatively but with each step, the pain slipped away, and her youth returned. Over her head, clouds filled with tears rained down on us. Chelsea stopped at the bottom of the steps and saw her brother. She ran to him like she was a pup again. Every step she ever took in pain was a memory. Chelsea was young, strong, and born again.
Junior walked up to Chelsea when she reached the top of the stairs. They both stood on their back legs, then they leaned into each other and hugged. The hundreds of dogs who had known Junior and Chelsea on Doggyspace, TB and Facebook, began to applaud the reunion. Then they all ran to the Bridge’s newest Angel and smothered her with kisses.
Junior stood nearby, in his usual regal pose. Chelsea stood next to him. They eyed one another, grinned, and then they began to run like they had years before, up to the hills, then down again. Then they began playing, rolling on the grass, nipping at one another, with their tails wagging so hard they made the trees bend.
The happy duo could not play together for long. They had work to do. They needed to get back to their mom: As butterflies, beautiful insects, cardinals, hummingbirds and other flying creatures; or as ghosts, making things rattle in the night, or objects mysteriously moving, and in her dreams, which she may not remember, but will help heal her heart.
And they will begin their search. Their mom has said that she will never find dogs like Junior and Chelsea again. He lovable fur babies have accepted this challenge. They are interviewing dogs right now who can fill their very large paw prints. When they find one the will let their mom know, and the story of Kristi and her dogs will begin again.
While they won’t be there Junior and Chelsea will always be part of their lives.