Caesar - A Very Golden Rescue

I am usually very good at remembering dates.

This month, however, I forgot a very special one that relates to Caesar, my darling Golden Retriever.

Those that know me well, know how much I love my dogs. They also know that I have experienced enormous grief in recent times when I’ve had to say goodbye to four of them in the space of just three and a half years.

These are the dates of their passing that are etched in my memory.

Harley:      December 30, 2009
Caesar: February 1, 2012
Samson:  December 8, 2012
Willow: July 21, 2013

On each of these anniversaries I share a little story about them on Facebook along with a favourite photo. For me, this is a way to remember them publicly on a day when I am feeling just so sad.

Last week it suddenly occurred to me that I had missed the date for Caesar - February 1, the second anniversary.

I am so upset by this.

Why did I forget this year?

This magnificent creature was only in my life for such a short period of time (five and a half months) but he managed to affect me greatly.

Caesar was a chubby, hairy and sometimes smelly Golden Retriever. At the estimated age of 11, he was our very own ‘Golden Oldie’.

He came into our life via Golden Retriever Rescue, (GRR) a registered charity and animal rescue organisation in NSW.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across the GRR website and was both touched and more than a little shocked to read the stories about these abandoned, unwanted, unloved and often abused ‘Goldies’ they were trying to find ‘furever’ homes for.

GRR rescues a staggering number of this gentle breed every year – somewhere in the vicinity of 200. Keep in mind that this figure represents only one rescue organisation, only one breed and only the state of NSW.

The overall problem of dogs of all breeds, shapes and sizes that find themselves either lost, dumped or surrendered in this country is astounding. Without rescue organisations like GRR a large percentage of these would be euthanised. It is almost impossible to find accurate figures but there are some sources that suggest around 130,000 perfectly healthy dogs are put to sleep each year in Australia alone.

It is especially difficult to find a new home for the seniors. Everyone wants a puppy it seems. But Steve and I always knew we wanted to give an old dog a second chance. GRR advised us that they had a boy named Caesar who might be the right fit for us.

The details of Caesar’s past were sketchy at best but we were told that his previous owner had died and he was surrendered to the RSPCA. He arrived in a terrible state. He was dirty and matted and was so obese that his skin had grown over his collar.

Caesar at the RSPCA Yagoona

GRR then took him for a short period of time so he could undergo some rehabilitation. They also needed to assess whether he was suitable for rehoming.

When we were introduced to this sweet old gentleman, it was love at first sight. Initially we were going to foster him. This involved taking him on a trial basis for a few weeks and, all being well, we could then consider adopting him permanently.

With Caesar and I in the back seat of the car, we drove out of the driveway of GRR and before we had even made it to the end of the street, Steve looked into the rear vision mirror and said, “I love you mate.”

Another ‘foster failure’ as they say in the rescue business. In fact one of my friends said to me the very next day, “That dog ain't going back!” It was obvious that we were completely besotted.

We set Caesar’s bed up in our bedroom and he spent this entire first night crying like a frightened baby. It was heartbreaking. While we knew there was only going to be love for him, this was his fourth home in the space of a few months and I guess he wasn’t quite as convinced.

Loving his nice soft bed

By the following day he seemed to know that he had struck gold. Our home quickly became known as ‘Caesar’s Palace’ and he seemed to work that out within the first 24 hours. We were committed to doing whatever it took to make sure he would live out his days with us with everything he could have ever dreamt of.

After he settled in, he seemed to just open his heart to us. We spent the next few months doing everything together. He lived inside with us and had cuddles and home cooked meals every night; more cuddles and walks every day - one very happy family of three.

Loving life

Steve and Caesar had a very special relationship. They truly were the best of mates.

Two of my favourite photos of Steve and Caesar

Sadly though, at the end of January 2012, Caesar’s past caught up with him. After years of neglect and poor health his body started to break down. We did everything we could but after a few days it became apparent that we had to make that terrible decision. He needed us more than ever now.

We held him in our arms, told him how much we loved him and did the only thing we could do to take his pain away.

I like to think we gave Caesar the best five and a half months of his life.

Even so, he deserved so much more.

RIP Caesar. On February 1, 2012, a date to remember, you took a little piece of my heart with you but I’ll be eternally grateful that you chose me.

                        “If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.”

Please consider adopting a rescue animal or making a donation, however small, to GRR. All donations over $2.00 are tax deductible and it’s a wonderful way to really make a difference to the lives of these beautiful animals -

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