Saying goodbye to my best little buddy

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It’s been two weeks since we said goodbye to you. It seems like yesterday and it seems like years ago. I swear the first couple of days lasted for years. But the last two weeks have sped by. I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks.

My heart hurts and so does your dad’s. We miss you so, so much.

The house is too quiet. You spent most of your days sleeping, or moving between two surfaces on which to sleep, or following me from one room to the other just to make sure I was okay. You were only ever noisy if a squirrel or bird taunted you from outside the window, but that was rare. Mostly, you were quiet. And you were little. But your presence was so much bigger than you were. It’s hard to be alone in the house because it’s so obvious that you’re not here. There’s no snoring. No clicking puppy nails on the floor. No horrible dog farts. We knew you were special and we loved you so much, but you really don’t know how important something is to your life until it’s gone.

You’re gone now.

It’s not fair. It’s just not fucking fair. I know life isn’t fair, but you weren’t even nine. You were considered a senior by the standards on that chart in the vet’s office, but eight is still such a baby to the people that love their dogs. You expect to spend years and years with your dogs. You expect to say goodbye to them in their teens, while secretly hoping they’ll live for decades. I expected you to be around when we had a baby, but we still don’t have a child, and now we don’t have you either. That kills me.

You spent the first four years of your life with at least two families before I met you at the SPCA. I don’t know these families and often, I wonder how anyone could walk away from you. But their loss was our gain. I don’t remember how long you had been at the SPCA when I met you, but I know it was long. I walked around the shelter three times before we made eye contact. I knelt down to eye level at your kennel and you picked your sleepy little butt off the cot, sauntered over to me, and wagged your tail. When they took you out of the kennel, I called your name, and you ran to me. You were mine from that moment.

You were very sick when I brought you home. Your first vet appointment cost almost $800. And you were varying degrees of sick throughout your short life, but we always did everything we could to get you the treatment you needed. We couldn’t always afford it. Actually, we usually couldn’t afford it. Sometimes we used credit cards. Several times your grandma paid for your treatment in place of a normal Christmas or birthday present for me.  We probably spent more than 10k on getting you treatment and taking you to the occasional doggie daycare while you were with us. Throughout your life you had an oncologist, allergist, and a chiropractor. We couldn’t afford it but we would do it all over again. You were worth it all. It was worth it to make your life easier.

13062480_10154067170242270_3884631246708918356_nFour years. That’s all we had. I wish we had more. I was hoping for so much more.

But I knew it was coming. You knew it was coming. I felt it. Something changed in the last couple of months. Before the spinal trauma, before the move, things started to feel different. I worried about you more than normal. Every little hiccup or sniffle had me on high alert. Often, your dad would catch me staring at you while you slept, watching to make sure you were still breathing. He thought I was being ridiculous.

I thought I could maybe be losing my mind but the worry, the feeling that you didn’t have much time left, it was on my heart more than I could possibly explain. I knew we were running out of time.

You changed. Your always expressive face seemed sad. Your new vet told us you had a heart murmur and I watched you even closer. You knew. You were more forcible about getting snuggles, about staying in the bed at night, about following me everywhere. Something was wrong and you didn’t know what it was but you knew it wasn’t good.

I didn’t like that feeling. I didn’t like worrying that you were leaving soon.

When I dropped you off for spinal surgery, I took a picture of you before I left. I took the picture because I knew you weren’t coming home. I had a terrible feeling that would be my last picture of you. I bawled my eyes out when I left you at the hospital. Because I knew.

They called us after your first set of scans to tell us about your metastatic cancer. When the doctor personally called led with the fact that they had only completed the first round of pre-op scans, it was clear nothing good was going to follow.

They woke you up so we could come say our goodbyes. I’m so glad we did that. Maybe it was just for us but I think it was for you too. We wanted your last minutes to be with your mom and dad. To be as comfortable as you could be and covered in snuggles. When they wheeled you into the room you looked so upset, so confused. By the time the doctor came in to put you to rest, your face was different. You were calm. You were relaxed. I hope it mattered to you. I hope it made a difference.

I’m sorry we had to do that. I hope you know that we didn’t want to. I hope you know that we wanted so much more time with you. It wasn’t fair to force you to keep living in so much pain just so we could all have a little more time together. We took your pain away, which meant we took you away, and that hurts more than some people could possibly understand.

You were so wonderful and so special and I know that not only because I lived with you and loved you, but also because of the people that have reached out since your passing to tell us how much they loved you. We were so obsessed with you and so happy to share stories and photos about you, that people that never even met you knew you and loved you. They saw your goofy side and your grumpy side. They saw you in a pumpkin t-shirt and a bunch of different bow ties. They saw us celebrate your birthdays. We openly adored you and other people have mourned with us in the weeks since we lost you.

We miss you so much.

10461629_10152503254022270_7683168065570312779_nI hate that I can leave food unattended in rooms now. Or that I can shower without leaving the door open. I hate that you’re not there guarding the shower for me. Or that you’re not around to keep watching the Gilmore Girls marathon with me. I miss your welcome home excitement and watching you sit on your hind legs for a treat when we left. I miss your super soft ears and your adorable little dog butt. I miss the L-shaped white patch on the back of your neck that I like to tell your dad stood for “love.” I miss trying to put my shoes on in secret so you wouldn’t get excited and think you were going outside too.

You were the best little spoon a girl could ask for, always willing to snuggle up and always quick to run to either of us when we were sad.

We finally got ourselves a house with a yard for you to run around in, and you got to enjoy it at least a little bit before you left us.

I heard this thing recently that said that after a loss we struggle with wanting to get past the pain and not wanting to let go of all the memories. I want to feel better and stop crying but I’m also sad that every new week is a week farther away from when you were here with us.

We are so lucky to have lived with you for four years. I wish we had you sooner. I wish we met you earlier. But I have no regrets about the time we spent together. We always snuggled with you and we often spoiled you. We bought you a million toys, treats, and blankets. I told you every day how much I loved you and how handsome were. You were my first dog. My first baby. I gave you so much of my heart and you brought me so much peace and joy. You brought so much laughter to us. I truly think we were all lucky to have each other, for so many different reasons.

I feel weird about trying to stop writing about you. I feel like closing this piece brings a finality to this, in a sense. I don’t want to stop writing about you or saying goodbye. If I stop then I’m farther from you. I know I will continue to get farther from you, but I don’t want to. I write because it helps me process, because it helps me get out thoughts and feelings. Some of them are funny, some of them are not. This is a form of catharsis for me, to release thoughts and emotions about you and your passing. It is cathartic but it is no less painful.

It seems like nothing I do to honor your life or mark your passing is good enough. I got a tattoo. We will bury your ashes in the backyard and plant a tree. The hospital sent us your paw imprint and a lock of your hair. We might make a photo book. We’re going through the process to get approved to foster with a local beagle rescue. We’re going to donate to the Fauquier SPCA in your honor, the place that you called home more than once and the place that we met. I laid your collar on the shelf next to the little beagle figurine we found at a thrift store a month ago.

None of it is good enough because none of it is you.

I will miss you forever.

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