Submitted by Jenn Parr

Whenever anyone meets TJ they usually ask what breed of dog he is… because surely they don’t make Goldens that big. Now that he’s older, his frame is a svelte 110 lbs. His head is twice the size of many purebred Goldens and he’s a good foot longer than most. But according to several vets, he’s pretty much 100% Golden Retriever.

I stumbled upon him quite by accident. I was at PetSmart buying birdseed of all things when I saw him sitting quietly in the “Adoption” corner. I’d been doggy free for a year after losing my White Shepherd to cancer. I’d yearned for another dog… I just didn’t feel complete without one around. So I moseyed over to get a better look.

He sat very calmly, looking very sad and tired and sick. I watched as small children came through the doors, ran up to him and threw their arms around his neck. He leaned into each hug with a little sigh and closed his eyes. He’d let his head rest on their shoulders.

I sat down on the floor with him and talked to him; he laid his head on my lap. It was evident that he was not well. He’d been picked up as a stray and recently rescued by Paulding Volunteer Animal Rescue (now Southern Hope). They were treating him for just about every type of intestinal parasite and he was heartworm positive. He was about the skinniest thing I’d ever seen, yet he was beautiful and sweet and trusting. I knew from the minute I saw him there was no way I was leaving without him that day. We needed each other.

He moved in like he’d always been there with little to no housetraining required. He didn’t even need a leash… he seldom left my side nor would even allow me out of his line of vision for that matter.

I nursed him from starvation, through heartworm treatment and made sure every other parasite left his body. He returned the favor years later by nursing me through a divorce, surgery and a layoff.

We met over 12 years ago… he’s 13.5+ now. Yet he still thumps his tail at my smallest smile or when our eyes meet. He still wiggles with glee at the slightest touch or attention. He loves kids and dogs, and just adores kitties and people in general. He still feels it’s his personal responsibility to meet and greet everyone – whether they are interested or not. Over the years he has so kindly welcomed a multitude of foster brothers and sisters… and became their protector and teacher. He is, bar none, the best doggy big brother his siblings could want. He separates them when they play too roughly. They snuggle him when it’s quiet time.

He’s becoming fragile now and I fear he’ll leave this earth all too soon. And although I tell myself daily I must be ready, I know that no matter how I try to prepare, it will be unbearable. When the time does come, he will be my guardian angel… maintaining the role he assumed long ago. He is the definition of devotion, love and friendship.