My Favorite Neighbor Was a Golden Retriever
Jersey Girl wasn’t technically Karen Dickson’s dog, but their bond was nothing short of spectacular.
Editor’s Note: America’s Best Pet Pals is a nationwide search for the animal friendships that make you laugh, cry, and purr. Reader’s Digest will be honoring the best in pet friendship in print, online, and on social media. This is a finalist in our “Rainbow Bridge” category. Scroll to the bottom to cast your vote for Jersey Girl. To see our full list of finalists, go to rd.com/petpals and vote in each category.
Jersey Girl was our neighbor’s dog, and the sweetest little Golden Retriever I had ever met. She would come and visit us, then return home to her family. About ten years ago, our own two dogs had passed away. I’ve had animals in my life since the day I was born and love them dearly. Losing them was the first time I didn’t have animals around, and I’d often find myself in tears. Then Jersey Girl started coming around.
She loved to come to our house and hang all day but would always go back home. Her time spent with us would get a bit longer each day. It was like she knew I was sad. She’d just sit with me, put her head on my knee, or high-five me with her paw. We’d go on walks, play ball, and she always had a “baby” she carried around. The babies were a variety of different stuffed animals I gave her, and she always carried them with such tenderness. I would say “go get your baby,” and she’d proudly bring it back to me.
As the days of Jersey visiting turned into months, I put a dog bed in the house for her and fed her as she began to stay overnight. I called the neighbors to apologize for the apparent dognapping—they are the kindest, most shirt-of-their-back people. They said, “It’s OK, Jersey knows you need her more than we do.” I will never forget those words.
In 2015, I got two horses and Jersey loved to come on rides with me. Once, I fell off and broke my pelvis. Immediately, she laid down beside me as I waited for help. She had to be pulled away once the medics arrived.
As time went on, she started to slow down. I knew she was getting tired when she’d be behind me on walks. She still wanted to come, but just couldn’t keep up. I began taking her on short walks before my longer walks so she was still included.
In March 2020, Jersey could barely eat. She was nearly blind and almost 15 years old. My husband took her to the vet and was told to bring her back in a few days. I called my neighbor to tell them what was going on. She passed away a few days later. I was devastated, but glad she was pain-free.
I will never forget the sweetest little Golden Retriever that came to save my heart when it was broken. I will be forever grateful to be blessed with such loving neighbors to let her live with me.