Emma, a tail-wag­ging golden retriever, loved leaf piles.

Leaf-rak­ing day was a tail-wag­ging treat for our au­tumn-lov­ing golden retriever.


Ev­ery dog has its day, and for our dog that was the day we raked leaves each au­tumn. My wife, An­gela, and I dis­like rak­ing, but our golden retriever Emmy al­ways felt quite dif­fer­ently about the task. Emmy adored be­ing out­side in the crisp au­tumn air. Her fa­vorite game was to re­trieve rocks or sticks and hide them in a pile of leaves. She romped from one pile to an­other with one goal in mind—to scat­ter all the leaves An­gela and I had raked so we had to do it again. As our rakes moved back and forth, so did Emmy’s wag­ging tail. While we grum­bled about rak­ing (and re-rak­ing) the leaves, she bounded around the yard in a state of pure bliss. Emmy had ev­ery­thing a golden retriever could ever want on a cool leaf-rak­ing day: piles of leaves to dig through or lounge on, a rake to grab, an oc­ca­sional squir­rel to chase, and—most of all—her two buddies to play with in the yard. Golden retriev­ers love the outdoors, but they love peo­ple just as much. So when you com­bine the two you have dog heaven! As au­tumn ap­proaches, that is where I hope Emmy is. She lost her bat­tle with can­cer in Fe­bru­ary on a frigid day. But as hard as that day was for An­gela and me, it will pale in com­par­i­son to leaf-rak­ing day. For the last 12 years we had a cher­ished com­pan­ion to en­ter­tain us and make us laugh, no mat­ter how many times she messed up the piles we had raked. This fall there will be no four­legged furry friend peek­ing out from the leaves. And there will be no gig­gles as we watch a golden retriever try to carry around the rake as if she wants to help out. Emmy gave us the gift of mak­ing rak­ing less of a chore. I think she was put on this earth to make us smile. When­ever we had a bad day, she was there to hug or pet, and she al­ways made us feel bet­ter. She was as lov­able as she was loyal. We called Emmy our best friend, but she was re­ally a fam­ily mem­ber. As the leaves in our back­yard start fall­ing this year, a few tears may fall as well—es­pe­cially when we reach for our rakes. Mean­while up in heaven, Emmy prob­a­bly is rest­ing on a pile of leaves with her tail wag­ging.

David’s dear dog, Emmy, loved to romp and play in the fall leaves.

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