As I type this my heart is breaking. Yesterday I said goodbye to my co-worker and best friend. He has been there for me through thick and thin.
He entered my life when I was a young newlywed, barely 23 years old. I was young, naive, thought I knew it all especially when it came to kids (because I didn’t have any, haha!), I was both excited and terrified as I navigated this new path. That first year of marriage was tough! Trying to determine the ebbs and flows of our relationship and how to effectively communicate was tricky. There were arguments and in those moments afterward, when I felt defeated, like a failure, and all alone he was there. He was there to cheer me up and chew my shoes! Haha! He had so many accidents those first few months, getting him house broken was exhausting. It’s a good thing he was irresistibly cute! You couldn’t help but forgive him…and he forgave us too. That first Christmas we had purchased a bag of ROLOs that he managed to pull down from the table and devour. For his wellbeing we had to induce vomiting. I tell you, if looks could kill. He was not happy with us for making him vomit up the bag of ROLOs. But by that last round of colorful foil all over the backyard he had forgiven us. He never held a grudge. He never gave the cold shoulder. He never ignored as a form of punishment. He was such a sweetie!
When we brought home our first child from the hospital everything changed. My husband and I decided that having me stay at home was the best option for our growing family. The dog was the one who was here with me and the babies/toddlers/preschoolers during the day. His role changed. He went from dog to co-worker (or at least as close to a co-worker as a SAHM gets, haha!). He helped me during the day and evenings when my husband wasn’t home. He would bark when a stranger would come anywhere near our house those first few years…which was awesome because we live on a corner lot and we have lost of walkers in our neighborhood. Haha! He was our protector. Thankfully as he grew he only barked when strangers came to the door. One bark from him and they stepped 3 feet back. And those nights when my husband would be out late or out of town for work I slept well knowing he was on the job. And when the babies were little and I had to get up every hour or two he would always be by my side. Keeping me company while I fed and changed the baby only to do it all over again in a couple hours….and on the rare nights/early mornings when I would be crying with the baby due to pure exhaustion he would literally lay right on my feet, as if to say, I am here for you, we will get through this together.
He was always so good with the children, even towards the end, not once did he snap at the kids. He looked out for them and protected them. When outside playing I knew I could run inside to grab snacks and leave the children outside with him. And when it was naptime and I would walk around tidying the house he was right by my side. He was so good, as a reward we got him a cat. Haha! Those two where hilarious together, running through the house, irritating each other, then cuddling up together when they rested. They continued that ritual for 9 years and then the cat passed away.
Let me tell you, having him here as we watched the cat slowly diminish and eventually die was a huge comfort. He was so good with her when she was ill; he just lay next to her and kept her company. Little did we know that soon after we said goodbye to her he would be on the decline.
He was diagnosed with diabetes in the spring. It was in the months to come that allowed me to return the comfort, the protection, the care that he so freely gave for 11 years! The insulin shots and food allowance was a learning process for both of us, it was tricky in the beginning but we got it down. And when he would have his accidents in the house and would put his tail between his legs like a bad dog I was able to comfort him and let him know it wasn’t his fault. It was my turn to give forgiveness freely. It was my turn to comfort him in his time of need. And when he finally lost his vision as a result of the diabetes it was my turn to guide him down the stairs and protect him from obstacles in the yard. Those last couple weeks were terribly inconvenient, messy, and hard to witness but to truly love means there will be a suffering…whether it be your time, your material goods, or your heart.
Eleven years ago our adorable yellow Labrador puppy sat on my lap on the way to his new home. (I am almost certain that was the only time he was a lap dog. Haha!) I just gazed at him and started to tear up. My husband asked what was wrong. I said, “I love him so much already and I know he is only on loan, one day he will no longer be with us”. I am pretty certain my husband thought he married a lunatic and he replied, “He will be with us for a long time”. To which I responded,” it won’t be long enough”. And yesterday as I sat on the kitchen floor with his head on my lap petting him and saying my goodbyes I thought back to that day and I swear all I did was blink.