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12 years ago, my husband and I were engaged to be married and decided we really needed another dog to go with my 5 year old beagle mix, Layla. I adamantly didn’t want a puppy and he specifically wanted a Golden. After looking at several dogs through Golden Beginnings we found “Mikey”.

He was an owner surrender with a bad back leg that needed work and time, but we showed up at the fosters’ house and fell in love the timid guy in the bushes who just needed some love. We took him home, renamed him Tito, never knowing we had stumbled on the best dog ever.

If he had a fault, it was his paper shredding addiction. He was overjoyed to find a daily delivery of fresh paper from the mail slot. Beyond an invitation or two, prompting awkward RSVPs (“I really want to come, but can you refresh me on the time and location?”), he never ate anything that special and we all learned that paper on the floor was his to shred (and we learned to put a basket under the mail slot).

He greeted every day with a big Golden smile and every time you came home, he greeted you with a celebration. He never stopped his “rodeo” at the front door when it was time for a walk. The appearance of his leash – even up until the very end – was cause for yodeling, yelping and general mayhem because he was just so excited to go on a walk!

When both of our daughters were born, he joyfully welcomed them. He adored them, let them do anything to him, and was our younger daughter’s best buddy. He was terrified of thunder and the only safe place he knew was with her. Middle of the night thunderstorms found him squeezed into her single bed with her, snuggled up and content.

We lost Layla about 18 months ago and I thought we’d lose Tito soon after because he just was so sad and lonely. We eventually adopted another small mutt from a local rescue, and watched Tito revive – he became quite adept at “leisure fighting”, where he would just lay down on the floor and bat at Rerun with his giant paws.

He started to slow down last year. It was harder to stand up. That bum back leg didn’t want to take its fair share of weight and his front legs were arthritic. Stairs became an issue. We dutifully carried him up each night, but at 85 lbs, he was hard to manage, and he didn’t like being carried. He eventually adapted to being our “downstairs dog” and moved his sleeping spot to the bottom of the stairs.

He started stumbling more and more when he walked and eventually the walk just became a trip to the front yard. The dog door became an obstacle instead of a convenience. In his last few days, his legs just gave out on him. He couldn’t stand without assistance and couldn’t do more than shuffle a few steps. He still thumped his tail when anyone even glanced his way, but he clearly was in pain and uncomfortable.

On August 8, we made the hardest trip to the vet and said goodbye to our best buddy. We miss him every day. I thought the worst was behind me, but I burst into tears sweeping last night because I swept up a huge ball of Tito fur from a forgotten corner. I would give anything to have more of it all over the house if it meant Tito was still there.

Thank you, Golden Beginnings, for giving Tito the safe harbor to find a forever home. Our lives were so enriched by him, and we are so lucky to have had him in our family.

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