Many years ago, our golden retrievers had puppies. The puppies were fun bundles of fluff. The mother dog was not the best mother, and she often forgot to climb in with them and feed them. I would get up twice in the middle of the night to help out. Once the puppies had all been nursed, she jumped out, and I went to bed.

There were eight of them, and as they grew, they would follow me around the yard. They were always underfoot, but they were fun and full of energy. Eventually, they were weaned, and it was time to find homes for them.

More important than the money to us was ensuring the homes they went to were good, so we didn’t charge a lot for them. However, we were picky about whom we let have one.

The last to get one was a married couple, whom I will call Michael and Susan. Michael was deaf, and he really wanted a golden retriever. They couldn’t afford much, so this was their big chance. My wife, Donna, reviewed their request and saved one of the best puppies for them.

When they came to get the puppy, and Donna put it into Michael’s arms, the smile on his face was better pay than the high price we could have gotten out of the pups. Michael cuddled the dog up in his arms, and it licked his face. They were instantly best friends, and they named their dog Toby.

Michael’s world was his wife and Toby. Over time, Toby seemed to understand that Michael couldn’t hear. He became more than Michael’s friend; he became his helper and protector. Toby learned hand signs and would do what Michael asked. If someone came to the door and Susan wasn’t home, Toby would go to Michael to let him know. Toby also had an inborn sense when Michael was discouraged. He would come to Michael and put his head on his knee or snuggle up to him on the couch. As Michael stroked Toby’s head, his discouragement just melted away.

But as happens in life, Toby grew older and got cancer. He seemed to know his time was getting short, and he spent every minute he could with Michael. When the day came that Toby died, it seemed to Michael as if his world had fallen apart. Susan loved him and helped all she could, but she knew Michael’s discouragement was beyond the help she could give. She called us to see if there was any way we had another litter of puppies or knew of someone who did.

Our dogs were old, and we didn’t have any. But we had some good friends whose golden retrievers did have a big litter. They were beautiful pups and just about to the point they were ready to find new homes. But the price they were selling them for was beyond what Susan and Michael could afford.

Donna called and talked to our friends and explained the situation. Our friends are incredibly good people, and they lowered the price on one of their best pups to what Susan and Michael could afford. The other dogs sold quickly, even at the higher price, but they kept the one they had set aside in reserve for Michael and Susan.

The day came to go pick up the pup, and we went, too. Our friend had just given the pup a bath and was blow-drying him. The pup was not happy about the situation. It was probably the biggest ten-week-old golden retriever I had ever seen. Michael is six feet tall, and when the dog was placed in his arms, it stretched from his shoulders to his waist. It immediately buried its head in Michael’s neck, possibly to hide from the hair dryer, but Michael and the dog immediately bonded. Susan turned to our friends and us and thanked us with tears streaming down her face.

Our friends agreed that seeing the love between Michael and his new dog was good pay.