I remember when you came to us.
It was Christmas.
Well, you were too small to be there in flesh and blood so we pasted a picture inside of a book about dogs and gave it as a gift. I wish you could’ve seen their faces, the kids, I mean, when they opened the brightly wrapped package. They were giddy with joy, a puppy after all is a big deal to three wiggly kids in the dead of winter.
It was still winter in Iowa when you finally arrived ten long weeks later. You were so small. We put you in an old playpen and stared at you through the mesh. You whimpered and peed all over, we held you and cleaned up mess after mess. We tried to take you outside but the snow was so deep and you were so little.
I hope you remember how much you were loved.
When you fell asleep for the last time, I hope you dreamed of a good life.
We moved before you were a year, you probably don’t remember being dragged across the country so your family could start a new chapter. By this time you slept in your own bed in the room with your kids. You were persnickety then and you never changed. You sure didn’t like the hot weather of the deep South, your long hair was a curse. You also hated going to the groomer, it was ill fated that you had to endure both all of your life.
I’ve cried a thousand tears for you.
The house feels empty.
You never were one to play. Or take a walk. We teased about your disposition. But, you never failed to meet us at the door day after day. You were such a part of our lives, the kids don’t have many vivid memories before you. You went on countless road trips, stayed close to Christian when he would wake up in the night with yet another ear infection. You were beside Abbie when she had her tonsils out and thought she might die of pain. You were loyal to Travis and slept by his bed for years even after he left for college.
You lived through the changes with us.
You did life with us.
How can you be gone?
One thing you never thought was funny was eating late. You made sure we always remembered. You had to drink out of a hamster water bottle because your face was so flat we thought you might drown drinking from a bowl. Thanks for being okay with a pink one since the pet store was all out of the blue ones.
When my mom died, you sat by my feet in the living room when I thought my heart would surely explode in my chest. You were never one to be overly affectionate, but you sat with me and I felt your presence.
You rode in numerous cars as we passed them along to the kids and bought newer ones. I know you hated every ride, we really did have your best interest at heart, I promise.
You wore bandannas after being groomed and I’m sure you despised us for it, thanks for tolerating our inexpiable desire to make you “cute” even though you were all boy.
I wonder if you’ll ever forgive is for feeding you only dog food because the vet said people food was bad for you. We really wanted you to be healthy. I can only imagine what the neighbor dogs thought when you told them your plight.
I’ll always remember you prancing around the back yard, tail high, looking for something, we never knew exactly what.
And I’ll remember how much the kids grew while you were with us.
Thank you for sitting with me when the house was empty. For being near as we dropped one, two and finally three kids off at college.
This note to you wouldn’t be totally honest if I didn’t mention how ornery you could be at times. How much you didn’t like company. Well, I guess you liked a few people, but not many. You’ve given us many laughs over the years as you snubbed your nose at yet another well-meaning guest.
It seems the years went quickly and then you didn’t have a skip in your step anymore. Your eyesight faded and then your hearing. We tried to be gentle with you, I’m sorry if we scared you trying to pick you up. It must’ve been difficult not being able to see or hear. We only wanted to help.
And then you couldn’t walk.
And still I couldn’t let go.
How do you say good bye to nearly sixteen years of good life wrapped up in fur?
I hope you can forgive us.
We loved you and will miss you.
The lady at the vet said letting go is the greatest act of love we could give to you. She said sometimes old dogs hold on for their owners.
Were you holding on for me?
Were you staying present like you have so many times before?
We’ve had so much change and some disappointment lately, were you trying to see us through?
I guess I’ll never know the answers to these questions.
But, I need you to know that no dog will replace you. We’ve picked a picture we feel captures your personality and we’re going to hang it in the house.
You will always be a part of the family.
This Christmas, we will remember you. We’ll hang your collar on the tree and take the time to talk of your antics and you’ll make us laugh once again.
Thank you for the memories.
We will never forget you.
I believe you’re in heaven, waiting for us. You’ll probably fuss about something, but you’ll be there.
Present, just like always.
Love, your human mom