When I was a mortal dog, I was never nervous. Even though I was tiny, I carried myself with an air of confidence. But, there was one day when I was unsettled.
I had arranged for my MOm to drive 50 miles to the North to visit my online friend Pokey and his mom, Laura. They were both sweet and kind; while, I could be cynical and biting. I didn't want to let that show.
We arrived at her home, and Miss Laura flung open the door to welcome us. She had not told us about her hearing issues. It did cause her a slight speech impediment. You recognized it as the speech pattern of someone hard of hearing. Daddy, in his usual state of oblivion, thought she was French.
I immediately realized I had no cause for concern. Miss Laura guided us inside and said not to worry about making a mess because her house belonged to the dogs. I don't warm up to people that well, but Miss Laura immediately made me feel comfortable and loved. Pokey was a perfect gentleman, and Miss Laura gave me so much attention I thought my heart would burst. When we left for home, I curled up in the backseat and took a pleasant nap.
Years later, after I went to the Bridge, Miss Laura hosted a group of New England dogs, including Wishbone, Barnum & Bailey, Bentley', s mom, Petey's mom, Whiskey's mom, who was visiting from the coast, and more at her home for a festive afternoon of friends and dogs. Miss Laura made all the people dog tags with Tanner Brigade, and Doggyspace imprinted on them and had treats for the dogs. This time it was Pocket who got the attention from Miss Laura. River received lots of loving too. The occasion is remembered fondly by those who participated. I am still jealous that I did not get to go.
Laura struggled her whole life with hearing and health issues. People who knew her just through social media were not aware of her struggles. She never asked for sympathy. As families gathered on Sundays for dinner with relatives, Miss Laura spent the day transporting dogs to their forever homes.
She welcomed her friends and their dogs with love and compassion. I always thought of her like a dog in human skin. That is the highest praise a person can receive.
She always held firmly to her beliefs and did not suffer fools graciously. She believed in second and third chances, but if someone continually showed meanness or ignorance on her page, she silently muted them. I feel sorry for those people who put their beliefs in front of friendship because they lost the best friend a person could have had.
2020 hit her hard. It seemed like she was going to the Bridge last year, but she pulled out of a coma and fought through rehab to see her babies Pokey, Maggie, and Toby one more time. We rejoiced when she returned home, but that was quickly replaced with worry as she was admitted to the hospital and promptly contracted Covid.
But she persevered. She made it out of the hospital and into rehab. She was coming closer to seeing her dogs again. But that big heart that meant so much to so many finally gave out.
Her friends in the online community reacted like they had lost a beloved family member. There would be no more witty comments from her left on pages, no more long Words of Friends games which she would inevitably win, no more wise and comforting words sent to you when you were at your lowest. Everyone wished they had one more chance to tell her that they would miss her and loved her before departing. But life never provides that opportunity, so if you have something to say to someone, you best do it now.
All of the sorrow that was felt on the mortal side was replaced with joy at the Bridge. I, along with thousands of pups she had helped during her mortal life, was waiting for her. We saw all the things she suffered in her life be stripped away as she crossed the Bridge. By the time she reached us, she was young again. We dogs howled when we saw her, and she, for the first time, clearly heard us and giggled. She managed to spend time with every dog, no matter how many sunrises and sunsets it took.
When the greetings were done, we led her to her mansion. There was no question she would be living on the dog side of the Bridge. She had earned the right. The mansion overlooked the water, which reminded her of her beloved Walden Pond., and there was room for 2000 dogs. Any pup who crossed the Bridge homelessly would find love and compassion with her.
I spent an hour with Laura at her new house. I had to get back to my duties, but the last I saw from her, she was in the middle of a group of dogs dancing like a carefree teenager and laughing as if she was a baby.
I know humans must mourn for the loss of a beloved relationship, but not for her; Miss Laura is home now, and when Toby, Maggie, and Pokey dream, they join her at the mansion, and they are happy once again. It is proper to lament what you have lost, but don't mourn her. We dogs are making sure she is getting the happily ever after she deserves.