I remember everything about the first day we met you. I remember the shirt I was wearing, the nervousness I felt about giving a good impression to the breeder, and our first glance of pure, fluffy energy. I remember sitting down on the grass, laughing as you and your sister climbed and jumped over me, running away for a quick wrestle and then back again for a slobbery kiss. And I remember falling in love with you. Immediately and irreversibly.
There were certainly days in the past 4 years that I was determined to sell you to the gypsies – even to beg them to take you away – but it was truthfully all show. I couldn’t imagine our life without you. Without that fluffy head and big brown eyes, forcing your wet nose under our hands and arms, insisting on love, love and more love. Nonna nicknamed you a Love Sponge – we couldn’t have come up with a better name – there was no limit to how much attention you could handle, how many belly rubs you’d accept.
The rare days when we didn’t have you (while traveling, or while you were on the dog-show circuit) I would still look for you, expecting to hear the jingle of your collar as you followed me from room to room. I missed the warmth of your body on my feet as we watched TV, and the constant protection you offered – which was annoying (your bark was pretty intense) and yet comforting at the same time.
I fully expected to have you following me around for another 10 years, growing up with our girls, our family’s most faithful companion. So it was a complete and utter shock to find out you were leaving us early.
Three weeks ago you stopped eating. We took you in to see our vet after 3 days. A lot of tests were run, and I was stunned when we were told that it was most likely cancer. The next two weeks were some of the hardest your dad and I have ever been through. You have always been more like a third child to us, than just a pet. We had to decide whether to put you through even more invasive testing, and then treatment for whatever cancer was found, knowing that the treatment would be painful and possibly not successful. Having to choose what would be best for you was full of stress, guilt, anger, and sadness.
After a lot of thought and even more talking, we chose to keep you as comfortable as possible, at home, for as long as possible. And oh – my sweet boy – did you hang on. You wouldn’t have known for another week that you were sick. Your tail still wagged, you barked at terrorists, and begged for love. But you refused to eat and eventually to drink. Yesterday your breathing became so labored that my heart physically hurt to hear you struggle. The disease had progressed so rapidly in the last 5 days and I could see that you were in pain. Your body was a shell, and that ever-present gleam in your eyes was lost.
It was time.
I’ve said goodbye to you so many times in the last 3 weeks, not knowing if you would be there in the morning. It didn’t make today any easier. As you lay down on that table, your soul gone, your body finally at rest, your dad and I broke down in overwhelming sadness. We knew it was the right decision but we were heartbroken.
We will miss you so much, bud. And as a sweet friend mentioned today, I expect you to be waiting for us when our time comes to leave this earth – not sitting patiently, but running full-speed down those golden stairs, begging for an eternity of belly rubs.