Salute to Arthur (10-83)

Our Arthur story began in the fall of 2010, when we were living in Omaha. Golden Retriever Rescue in Nebraska (GRRIN) had a record number of goldens waiting for foster homes. My wife, Karen, suggested we get qualified as a foster home and help GRRIN in their noble work. We had adopted a golden before through GRRIN and knew the value of the program.We took the plunge and quickly qualified as foster parents for GRRIN. We anxiously awaited the phone call telling us GRRIN had a foster golden for us. While we waited we told ourselves that this effort was only to help GRRIN in a time of need. We already had our darling golden girl, Hera, who was adopted some years before directly from a family who could no longer care for her.

The phone call from GRRIN came in December letting us know they had a golden for us to foster, Arthur #10-83. We knew little about Arthur’s background. We had the veterinary report that showed him to be healthy but overweight for a six-year-old male golden. We were told that Arthur came to GRRIN after having been with a Great Dane but that companion had gone to the Rainbow Bridge. Arthur was not doing well alone and his original family could no longer care for him.

Arthur quickly adapted to our home and bonded with Hera. He settled in nicely and became a loving friend. We diligently kept records for GRRIN on his progress and prepared the required observation report. At the end of the observation period a prospective adoptive family came to our home to meet Arthur. The family decided Arthur was not a good match for them but at that moment we knew Arthur was a perfect fit for us and he was going to be a permanent member of our family.

The adoption became official on February 8, 2011. His appreciation for our big back yard and being able to run and enjoy the space with Hera was as much fun for us as for him. With an improved diet and all that exercise Arthur began to lose some weight, which was a very positive step for him.

We moved from Omaha to Manhattan, Kansas in June 2011 when I became a faculty member at Kansas State University. Hera and Arthur loved their new home in the Flint Hills of Kansas with a nice fenced-in back yard to roam and nearby parks for long walks.

During our first year in Kansas, Hera started to have eye complications. Eventually, glaucoma claimed one eye and a growing cataract in the other caused a substantial reduction in her ability to see. Arthur, once again, as he did with the Great Dane performed his nurturing role with Hera. Arthur became Hera’s seeing eye guide. Arthur would lead Hera down the back steps into the yard. The two would stay close together. When it was time to return Hera would follow Arthur back up into the house. It was a time of joy and sadness. Joyful in terms of Arthur taking care of Hera but sad too because of Hera’s condition. The two remained active. We took many car trips together. At the age of 14 Hera’s time came to journey to the Rainbow Bridge.  t hurt all of us to lose her. Arthur had to be coaxed to go down the steps to the yard by himself, as he looked for Hera. Once in the yard Arthur would wait at the bottom of the steps for Hera. This changed rather quickly because Arthur was about to take on a new responsibility.

Zoey came into our family as a rambunctious six-month old in August of 2014. We adopted her from a family who could no longer care for her. Arthur immediately welcomed his new companion and the two bonded rather quickly. Arthur was a mentor to Zoey in many ways. The two became inseparable. They played together with chew toys and bones.

Arthur started showing signs of arthritis and some other health issues by age 11. Through a strict diet to deal with the mobility issues and medications twice a day Arthur remained active as a senior citizen. Eventually the steps and jumping into and out of the minivan was too much so we provided a ramp for him. He could still take the road trips he loved, get some exercise in the backyard and on good days there were short walks in the park.

Arthur developed canine vestibular disease and spent 11 days at the veterinary hospital in January of 2017. Eventually he was well enough to return home but he was never able to resume all his usual activities. While Arthur was slowing down Zoey kept up her responsibility of keeping Arthur as active as possible and entertained.

We maintained a quality life for Arthur but it required extra effort, which we were happy to do for Arthur. We planned a vacation trip for the third week of May. Our long-time dog caretakers assured us they could handle Arthur’s special needs during our absence.

It was obvious, upon our return, Arthur had been waiting for us to say goodbye. His eyes and expression communicated that his role of nurturer, mentor, seeing eye guide dog, puppy trainer and close personal companion was nearing an end. On Sunday morning, May 21, 2017, Arthur took his journey to the Rainbow Bridge.

We wish to thank all of those who added to the quality of life for Arthur. The professionals at the Ralston Veterinary Clinic in Omaha Nebraska, Little Apple Veterinary Clinic in Manhattan Kansas, and the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center all played significant roles. We are grateful for our dog caretakers, Lincoln and Summer McClure of Manhattan Kansas, who made it possible for Arthur to spend his days in familiar surroundings when we were away from home. We are forever indebted to Golden Retriever Rescue in Nebraska for making it possible for Arthur to become part of our family.

Arthur, we miss you dearly but we salute you for a job well done during the seven years you gave to our family.


Vern and Karen Wirka