Author Sean Kernan

When I took Odie in my arms for the first time, it was a Marshmallow puppy, an overweight Golden Retriever that I had rescued from a bad home.

At 9 weeks, he went down a hill rolling like a ball because his little legs could not stand his big body.

He eventually grew up to somehow compensate, but his overweight made him very buoyant and made him an amazing swimmer. I was a college swimmer myself, so it was great to me.

Needless to say, we had a lot of fun on the beach. He was never as fulfilled as when he got his tennis ball back in the waves.

Like most dogs, Odie wanted a lot of attention. At home, he loved lying on my legs while I watched TV. Even after hours, he would want more, ready to settle for an occasional stirring of my toes.

Sometimes I massaged the bottom of his front legs, he loved it – really.

We have lived many things over the years and his loyalty and love have never changed, not even half a second.

But like everything and everyone, he has aged.

Arthritis has started to make it slower. And those foot massages that Odie loved then became a daily ritual.

He was clinging, taking his medication, doing his daily walks, trying to control his weight.

But finally the day has come.

One morning, I entered the living room and he was nailed to the floor, his buttocks in a corner. He sometimes had trouble getting up on my slippery floor, so it happened to me to have to help, especially in his last years.

When I went to help him this time, he immediately collapsed – anemic. He was getting wet too, something was not right at all.

I carried his 70 kilos to the vet. I remember going through the cabinet doors with a giant dog in my arms, and a waiting room full of people watching me as I brought him into the back room, broken and his eyes tears.

I will not go further with this memory. It still makes me sad today, while I’m typing on my keyboard: we all know what happened next.

It was not a good day, nor a good month.

Then about 3 weeks later, the vet sent me this.

And even today, I can pass my fingers on these footprints and the relief is in all respects identical to that of the pads of Odie, where he liked to be massaged.

I can close my eyes and feel him by my side. Lying on my legs, waiting for the next shaking of my toes.

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