In this excerpt from Always By My Side, Edward Grinnan's moving memoir, his golden retriever, Millie, proves to be a very vigilant and reliable roommate.
Posted in , Feb 14, 2017
The storms did come, and the power was knocked out for a bit that night, which was enough to send me to bed early. I was awakened well past midnight by Millie’s snout plopping down on my pillow. Oh no, I thought, does she have to go out now? It’s pouring!
As if on cue, the rain did a windswept paradiddle on the bedroom window. Millie stood by the bed, her chin as high as the mattress, shifting her weight from side to side, her manner both urgent and expectant, and a little . . . disapproving. She only woke me when she had an emergency. Apparently, she was having one.
“Just a sec, Mil,” I mumbled, grabbing my robe. “Good girl. I’ll let you out.”
Millie preceded me down the stairs as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. She stopped just two steps from the bottom and stared up at me, then down again at the landing by the back door.
See? she seemed to say. It’s raining inside.
I did see. The old roof had sprung a leak over that area. Not a gusher, but the whole landing was soaked. I also finally noticed the wet paw prints on the stairs. I gave my dog an amazed look. She had first investigated the situation. How did she know this dripping ceiling was important enough to rouse me? It wasn’t as if Millie minded the rain. She just knew it didn’t belong inside.
“Smart girl,” I said. She watched while I snatched one of her towels off a hook by the door and sopped up the water. Then I found a bucket and positioned it under the leak to catch the drips till morning when I could call a roofer. Millie seemed satisfied with my work. I gave her a nice rub behind her ears before we headed back upstairs, where I slid under the covers and she lay down on the floor with a contented sigh, like she thought the place would fall apart if it wasn’t for her.
Just before I drifted off, I said a quick prayer of thanks for having been blessed with such a responsible dog. “Thank you, Lord, for making her so vigilant. That drip could have caused some real damage.”
The next night before her surgery, when I didn’t think I would sleep a wink but did, she woke me again with the same insistence. Except it wasn’t raining. It was a beautiful early spring night, and I’d left the bedroom window cracked. I could smell flowers blooming in the moonlit dark.
“All right, all right . . .”
This time Millie led me into the bathroom and sat down in front of the sink. I switched on the light, squinting until my pupils shrank a little. I saw a lazy drip from the faucet to the basin.
“Really?” Millie shot me a stern look, as if I was some kind of negligent home owner. I wanted to tell her it was no big deal, but instead I tightened the faucet and put the cap back on the toothpaste while I was at it. Maybe I had been a little hasty going to bed.
Millie led the way back to the bedroom. This time I knelt and gave her an enormous hug. I could feel the muscles in her shoulders shift beneath her fur and caught the faint odor of grass and underbrush mixed with her underlying animal scent. She relaxed into my embrace, leaning her weight against me. I held her like that for a long time. “It’s going to be all right,” I said. “We’re going to take care of you.”
Always By My Side
In this moving memoir, Guideposts Editor-in-Chief Edward Grinnan takes you on a wondrous journey with Millie, a golden retriever, whose compassion, intelligence and empathy teach him what really matters in life. Their unique relationship changed his life, shaped his decisions, and gave him blessings that he never expected. Order Now