Stanley – Always in our Hearts

The love of our life, “Stanley” came to us in February 2009. We were told he was 6-7 years old and we would likely enjoy 3 to 4 years or so with this precious “person” (as we quickly decided he was in many ways). We even received the “senior citizen discount” as the good people at SCGRR recommended an older dog for my wife and I – both of us work full-time jobs, we have no kids, live in a townhouse in Santa Monica with no yard… It took almost no time to realize that we were blessed with an incredibly intelligent, loving and compassionate soul who would forever change our lives over the course of just over 10 years. In a way, this incredible length of time for an older golden was both a blessing (obviously, right?) and as crazy as this sounds – a curse… the “curse” being that he became such a complete and permanent part of our everyday existence that the inevitable end of our time together would be that much more painful.
Stanley made us better people. He taught us patience, unconditional love and to appreciate every moment as if it’s the last. Stanley was the truest incarnation of one of our favorite words: “alacrity” – meaning “cheerful willingness”. That was Stanley 24/7. Stanley’s enthusiastic “yes” to everything that crossed his path included not just “Do you want your breakfast?” or “Do you want to go and play ball?” but in his later, arthritic years also to “Stanley, let’s go see your friends at Physical Therapy” and in his final days “Come on Stanley, let’s go see your friends at the VCA Hospital”. Always a tail wagging and a big smiley face, Stanley took on life like it was a privilege and a pleasure – and to him that was his reality. Left now in his absence, we can only hope to emulate in some small way this “joie de vivre” he so perfectly lived every single day. Everyone who knew Stanley felt this way about him. Neighbors in our area who we’d greet on walks (and in many cases don’t even know their names!) cried at the news of Stanley’s passing. Our 100-year old grandmother, always a naysayer of dogs her entire life (almost!), was converted to “dog lover” after meeting Stanley (so who says an “old dog can’t learn new tricks”?). He impacted the lives of a countless number of people and was loved deeply by his community of family, friends and even the odd stranger in the neighborhood.
We said goodbye to Stanley only 1 week ago. The sudden onset of lymphoma quickly overcame him only 3 weeks from the onset. Despite every possible attempt to ward it off, this lymphoma was not only incredibly aggressive but also chemo-resistant as we found out all too quickly. Our hearts are broken and the empty home he leaves behind is a challenge that seems unsurmountable right now. But we knew we’d have to face this moment when we first met him. As torn apart as we are, we remain firm that it was worth every minute of it. As heartbreaking as this moment is, we still feel like we’re the luckiest people in the world (and we take great comfort to know that this is a feeling shared by virtually everyone who has had the good fortune to share a part of their life with a golden retriever or other canine companion). Life is short and the end can seem cruel. But it is precious – every second of it. And Stanley taught us this. He will be in our hearts forever.
-David and Heike Collett