Lilly, she knows ALL my secrets. I mean every single solitary one of them. She knows my eating habits, my daily rituals, my temper, my passion, my laugh, yep, she knows it all. My dog knows me. And what makes her so astonishing, is that in spite of it all, she loves me unconditionally. That’s why when Lilly got sick earlier this month and they told us she might not make it, I was paralyzed. The last day I was with her before we took her to the emergency hospital, she was lying on the cold bathroom tile, panting, trying desperately to catch her breath. I laid down with her, right on the bathroom floor, holding her and gently stroking her silky fur, telling her how much I love her and how special she is to me and everyone in our family. When I briefly stopped stroking her, she stretched her paw to my hand, her signal that she didn’t want me to stop. So I didn’t, not for awhile anyway.

Lilly is my dog. She is a seven year old Golden Retriever with a heart so massive, she has enough love for everyone she meets. My daughter Abby calls her an institution in our family. She is the greeter to those in our neighborhood, waiting patiently for many to enter the yard, stopping along the way from their walk or run, giving her a warm hello and a pat on the head, or when she’s really lucky, a treat. If we humans could learn and apply the wonderful qualities these fantastic beasts possess, what a phenomenal world we would live in. They are color blind, they do not judge, they welcome anyone and everyone, they love, they love, they love. Sometimes I wonder if this higher power of ours made dogs first, the perfect “thing” then made humans with all their flaws, and gave us dogs to help us cope.

Right now Lilly’s fighting for her life, and I wait. I am anxious and scared as I wait to see if she will come home to me, to all of us. All I really know, is that no matter what the outcome is for my beautiful girl, I have been blessed with such a joy. She has been my therapist, my confidant, my best friend, my world. And you know what, I hope I’ve been hers. I hope, I hope, I hope…