It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 15 years since I brought you home. At the time, you were about 100 pounds of cuteness packed into 1.5 pounds of actual dog–and you were all ears. I hadn’t planned to get a dog. My roommates had even told me I couldn’t get a dog. But while I was out shopping with friends, we stopped into the pet store “just to look.” I picked you up and didn’t put you down till we got home.
I have no doubt that you came from a puppy mill. I didn’t know about puppy mills then. Now, I think I know too much some days that it just might break my heart. Though I do regret where you came from, I have never regretted choosing you. (By the way, your sister Latte is my penance for supporting that “industry”.)
You were a little nuts when you were a puppy, but you always loved the company of humans. However, to this day, when I leave the house, your world shuts down. Other dogs you could always take or leave. Cats are fine as long as they understood that even though they were bigger than you, you were still the boss. The same holds true with our current feline residents. They kindly oblige.
You have made my life richer in so many ways. Walking a dog is a great way to meet neighbors. This is good since we’ve lived in 5 homes in 3 cities in 2 states. You have been a conversation starter in every neighborhood. And every day you make me smile. When you pull out your Pup-pet toy and try to make it squeak (even though you can’t hear it these days.) Or when you get all bite-y to let me know that you do NOT want to wear clothes. Or how you tell your sister off when she gets too close to your green bean (which you aren’t going to eat anyway.) Or how last year we discovered that you absolutely love roasted cauliflower–possibly more than any other food.
As time has passed, our habits have changed. You’re older now and don’t see and hear as well as you once did or have the energy that you used to. I miss how you used to snuggle on my lap or curl up in my armpit for the night. Now you prefer the comfort of one of your many dog beds. You no longer greet me at the door, since you can’t hear me coming. And no matter how hard I try not to startle you, you’re always a little shocked when I come to let you know I’m home.
As a dog, you are blissfully unaware of “the future.” I have been especially grateful for this in the last few years. In 2012, you were diagnosed with stomach cancer. You had lost 20% of your body weight and weren’t eating very much. So there were tests and more tests, visits to vets and appointments with specialists. I was told that the only choice was surgery and that it was not a good option. The doctor suggested that I take you home. Keep you comfortable, keep you happy. I thought I’d be lucky if you made it through the summer, that it would be a miracle if you were still with me at Christmas.
Well, I am thrilled to say that you are my little 6-and-a-half-pound miracle! It is now 2014 and I am planning a party to celebrate your 15th birthday in May. I envision a day of fun, filled with joy and laughter, surrounded by our friends. But I am also painfully aware that the day is coming when you will have to leave me. When that time comes, I hope that I will be strong enough to make the best decisions for you, even as my heart is breaking. And I hope that you will forgive me if I am not.
For the last 15 years you have been my most loyal friend, constant companion and sidekick. You are my baby. I have no doubt that someday there will be other dogs. But none of them will come close to filling the space you hold in my heart. I am grateful for each day we still have to play, explore and snuggle. Though, I admit, even forever wouldn’t be enough.