Our dog died a couple of days ago. He was 14 years old, so it wasn’t a big surprise. To be honest, the biggest surprise was how long he lasted. In the last couple of weeks, every time we woke up or walked in the door, someone would always look to see if he was alive. “He’s still breathing,” one of us would say after checking on him.
The other day when I had to go to an appointment, we left him outside because it was one of those glorious, non-humid, beautiful days that occasionally bless us in the summer time. When I looked at him before we left, something told me that would be the last time I’d see him alive, but I brushed it aside. I shouldn’t have left him alone. After we came back, the second I saw him in the backyard, I just knew that he was no longer with us. I told the girls and found a blanket to cover him.
Everyone acted fine at first, but then I asked my youngest to give me a few minutes alone with him. As I knelt beside him, I started bawling my eyes out and couldn’t stop. Soon, I could hear the youngest crying and she “need[ed] to call daddy.” After I got up and went in the house, I found our older daughter in her room quietly crying.
He was a great dog, he really was. The problem for me has been that he was a present that I didn’t want, but I didn’t know how to tell my husband that when he got the pup for me our first Christmas together after we got married. I always felt incredibly guilty about that.
He was so very cute as a puppy and we quickly became best buds even though he ate my jewelry, shredded (and I mean shredded) our carpet, ate my leather-bound Bible, ate other random stuff, barked at night, took forever to learn to not jump on people, shed like nobody’s business, and we couldn’t just get in a car and go on a trip without figuring out what to do with him. It’s a good thing he was so cute and snugly.
The other problem is that I loved that dog. Unfortunately, I began to distance myself from him in the past year or so because I could see the writing on the wall. My heart was so broken by all the people we have had to say good-bye to in the last couple of years, that I think I began protective measures from this loss that was clearly going to come. I mean, he was just a dog — that I never really wanted, or so I kept telling myself.
After 14 plus years, I have to remind myself that I no longer have to let him in or out anymore. I start to call for him and then remember. A shadow on the wall catches my eye and for a moment think he’s still here. We have to pick food up off the floor if we drop it and I’m no longer tripping over that hair-shedding machine that was usually never too far from my feet. I realize it’ll take some time to get used to especially since I find my eyes watering at random moments.
We can tell ourselves anything to cope, but it’s strange how nothing really blunts the pain of loss. Good-bye sweet pup.