I have to call you that…because that was my little name for you. And it will always be how I remember you.
Last night was rough. I’ve been on this blog before talking about different life events and stressors…and situations I’ve gone through. Especially over the last couple of years. This ache in my heart is very different. The tears that are spilling over without notice are hot…they feel like they’re coming right from my heart.
You know I wasn’t a “dog” person. We had that conversation in the beginning. We set down our ground rules on that first morning I met you. I saw you all alone in the corner while your brothers and sisters were all huddled together in a different spot in the room. The breeder said that you were the only one that seemed to be unaffected by a stomach bug the rest had. It almost struck me funny to see your furry little 8 week old body curled up away from the brood-almost as if to say “keep your diarrhea to yourselves guys”. I felt like you had a sense of humour. I felt like within two minutes of seeing you I understood you. I walked over to you and reached my hand out. You stood up and looked at me…no licking. No untoward movements. I sat down and you walked closer and tried to get into my lap. And you became mine in that moment.
Leaving that day I was told just to take the alternate exit in the house because your mother and father were running free in the fenced in back yard. Your mother had shown herself to be very protective of her litter and the breeder was concerned seeing me leave with you would upset her. I held you carefully to my chest but to no avail. Your mother, Buffy, saw me. I’ll never forget the howls that came from her. I rushed to the car but she had sufficiently worked herself up to the point that she jumped the fence and came chasing after me. You made no movement in my arms. As terrible as I felt removing her baby from her, I knew without a doubt in that moment you wanted to come with me.
And our life began. Initially, I felt like I was a new mother. Laying beside your crate through several sleepless nights while you cried. Cleaning up your messes when training didn’t seem like it would ever come to fruition. Hearing you get upset when I would crate you before work…having guilt leaving you just like I would with Hannah. Coming home and seeing all of your stuffed toys in your crate ripped to shreds with the stuffing floating in the air like snow. Carrying you around like an infant because you were too small to do the stairs.
I look back now and understand that our relationship was being laid down. You may have been intended to be Hannah’s dog. Yet, really, you were mine.
And the years went by. You never left my side. Through two more pregnancies that required bed rest…you laid on the couch with me. You defended me when the door rang…or you spotted someone walking down the street. Or kids that got a little too close to the edge of the property. You were small but you would challenge anything or anyone that you perceived as a threat. Your barking drove me nuts at times…even success at obedience class couldn’t shift that behaviour. It was as if your soul’s purpose was to protect me. If I left the house, I knew you were simply waiting until I returned. If I was sick (or the kids were sick) you knew instinctively to lay in quiet wait. Never leaving our sides.
We had a lot of conversations and you saw me cry a million tears. You saw my joy and my pain. You saw my anger. You saw me looking my best and my worst and waited at the door regardless of all of it. You were my shadow. It’s hard to find a photo without you or some part of you in it. I trusted you. You never once hurt me or the girls-regardless of how rambunctious they would get trying to put clothes on you or dance with you. I never heard you growl…unless it was at another dog or the deer. To us you only showed love.
I felt like you were my kindred spirit. It’s amazing how you can develop a relationship with one party being unable to talk. But I knew you loved me. And it was truly a love that was unconditional.
I’m sorry for the pain you experienced yesterday morning. I’m sorry I wasn’t there in the early morning hours that this happened. All I could do was hold and love you as the decision was made to end your suffering. Yet as I sat there with you cradled in the blanket holding your litttle body like a baby, I just knew you would go on your terms if you could. And you did. With one deep-throated growly sigh and those big brown eyes open.
I’m not a dog person. I’ll never say that I am. But I am a Papillion named Gnarly person. Because you broke a piece of my heart open and taught me to love and trust. You’re in my heart forever and I know this sharp ache of grief will lessen.
Thank you for being my best friend. You’re my little buddy forever.