We said good-bye to our sweet golden retriever, Buddy, three nights ago. He was 10 1/2 years old. He had cancer all throughout his body. As he lay on the floor, with the three of us sitting around him, stroking him and holding him, the drug was administered and he quietly left us. From the time our, then,  7-year old daughter picked him out from an array of  six-week old puppies sleeping in our backyard (a young 4-H fellow was breeding retrievers and brought a dozen little fellows to frolic in our back before, one-by-one, they plopped off to sleep) to this week, our Buddy had been the sweetest, most loving of companions. Happy (happy?…..In heaven) to have his ears massaged – never more content than to be under our dinner table while we ate, my daughter’s toes tucked under his belly or resting on top of his body – loving to shimmy on his back on top of a new scent in the grass.  Oh lord, the open, complete love that he gave.  He’d stay with a good friend when we’d be away and she told us she loved his company, he was so mellow.  She joked that he just needed an easy chair and a smoking jacket to fill out the image.  I loved taking him for walks off leash – he never, but for a couple of times in all those years, roamed and always stayed near as we approached an intersection in our neighborhood, would sit until it was time to be released to run across the street.  He was our happy, loving boy and the warmth he brought to our home will be sorely, sadly missed.    I wish I’d walked him more, given him a few extra goodies, somehow prolonged his time on this plane – but that’s over.  We lit a memorial candle inside his collar placed beside his picture and we’ll keep that for another few days.  So here’s to the love in our lives, wherever its source.  We often don’t know how it fills our hearts until it’s gone.