Editor’s Corner: A windfall with a wagging tail

By Kim Hasty

Sir Edward Thatcher, a lover of the beach and table scraps, died peacefully the morning of Sept. 18. He was somewhere around 11 years old.
As is the instinct of dogs, Thatcher, sensing the end was near, sniffed around in the backyard, trying to settle on a final resting place. My friend Cindy Burnham, his owner, would have none of that.


“Thatcher! Thatcher!” she called, coaxing the big golden retriever back inside the house where she and her husband Rick Allen sobbed and hugged that good dog, petting his soft tawny fur until it was time to relent and see to it that his sweet spirit was allowed to pass from this world.


Cindy and Rick adopted Thatcher from Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue in 2017. He’d had a rough beginning, suffering from abuse that was evident in many ways, the starkest of which was the fact that he had been brought to the rescue organization with a chain growing into his neck. Cindy and Rick decided to add the rather regal-sounding moniker of Sir Edward to his given name in a nod to Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the Pirate.


Thatcher, understandably, was skittish when they first brought him home. Already estimated to have reached the age of 7, he had learned to be on his guard. He startled if someone came close, seemingly from fear that he would be kicked. “When he became part of the family, he barked at everything and everyone that moved,” Rick said.
But Thatcher began to first soften and then to thrive under the love and care of two people who know a thing or two themselves about the pain and suffering that life can bring. He was treated to car rides and boat rides and swimming in the ocean. He was adept at chasing after balls flung far into the water. He looked handsome in a wardrobe of bandanas, and, in a stroke of serendipity, turned out to be a dashing and patient model for Cindy, a professional photographer. Friends and family enjoyed following his exploits on the social media page his owners created for him.


It was the second round of cancer that got him. His veterinarian had removed a tumor growing not far from his heart about a year ago. When they learned the cancer had returned, Cindy and Rick began trying to do the impossible: prepare for the end. Finally, on a beautiful weekend in September with just a hint of fall in the air, they packed up the truck for one last trip to the beach with Thatcher. Cindy, who most always has a camera hanging by a strap around her neck, captured a final, sweet moment of her husband and his furry companion side by side at the end of a dock in Beaufort.


“Fair winds and following seas, Sir Edward Thatcher,” Rick wrote in a social media post. “You made us all better for the lessons you taught us and the love you brought into our family.”


Few things in this world rival the pain of having to say good-bye to a good dog. As Cindy and Rick and so many of us have learned, there is both beauty and sorrow in the changing of the seasons.