Dear Nana,

You were born as a pure-blooded Labrador retriever on 2 December, 1998. And we met at the pet shop when I was 4 years old. It was my dad who suggested having a dog and chose you. I still remember you were on that small cage of the shop. You were spinning on a cardboard box which looked like a cake box and my sister, who was 2 years younger and I were playing with your tail, sticking out from some air holes. You were named Nana after me and my sister. Do you remember living indoors with us when you were a puppy? You were such a naughty girl that always jumped over the wall of your house. One thing I cannot forget is that you messed up scattering everything from a tissue paper box and my sister’s nappies and welcomed us with a big smile wagging your tail when we came home after picked the Grandmother up. It must have been a trouble for mom to clean that mess including a lot scattered from a dust box. When you became too big to have inside, we built a cage for you in our yard. I’m sorry for keeping you there all day long except walking time twice a day. You do love walking. You have never skipped taking a walk with us even when it was raining or so windy. We often took a long way walk toward the sea, didn’t we? I should have walked with you more, at least a few times a week without leaving it to my parents.

I wonder where you have been after you fled from the cage. We often chased you into an orange farm next to our yard, but isn’t that the only place you visited? Though, you always came back home when you played a lot and got hungry. Your Birthday was always a big event! Once, when we made a doggy cake for you, you did not like one of its decorations which shaped a dog and spat it out immediately, which surprised us.
You gave birth to five lovely puppies in 2001. It was such a shame that we could not be with you at your delivery because we were on a trip for the birthday of the Grandfather. But didn’t you feel comfortable at the veterinary hospital? You were just giving a birth to third puppy when we called and I was so excited. To be honest, we said ‘To Nana’s children’ at the table even though it was for the grandpa, which made him a little upset. The days after that were just amazing. They were so small that they fitted in one hand when I first saw them. However, they grew up so fast. You were a perfect mother taking care of your puppies very well, yet also had generosity that never let you get angry, whoever held your puppies. It was only for 3 months we were with them though. It was such a precious time. I wanted to keep just one puppy which was my favorite, but my parents didn’t allow me to. You consumed a great deal of energy for raising them. Well done, Nana. We’re proud of you having five children at once.
The older my sister and I grew up, the less time we spent together. I wanted to invite you inside more often and drive with you since you were fond of riding a car. But it is too late. Even though you were in hospital for a while, you could jump, run, and still liked walking. So I thought you would be all right, which was wrong. Day by day, death was approaching. You often started fall down while walking and became reluctant to eat in the end. You stopped barking before I knew it. Where are those days gone when we had to tell you to be quiet?
One day, you finally became too weak to walk so we brought you back into the house where you used to be when you were little. You seemed to be very sick and I was sorry that we could do nothing but stroke and give water to you. We were relieved just to have you nearby. How stupid we were not to do so earlier. 2 days later, it happened. You passed away at 19:50 on 25 February, 2012, surrounded by everyone who cared about you so much. We all cried and cried calling your name again and again but you left us alone.
I know you held on until the night, so that everyone attended your deathbed and gave us 2 barks to tell that you were going. Thanks for bringing us tons of happiness. And sorry for not having played with you enough recently. Were you happy coming here? I was very happy to have you with us for 14 years, long enough for a Labrador retriever. Tears still come into my eyes when I see your photos, read ‘I’ll Always Love You’, listen to ‘Slipped Away’, and remember you. But I can see you at the tomb in the yard and you continue to live forever in my mind.

I’ll never forget you.
I’ll always love you.

Dear Dewey/Doodlebug/Shuffleupagus/Mr. Most Handsome,

Dear Dewey/Doodlebug/Shuffleupagus/Mr. Most Handsome,

You weren’t supposed to be my dog. Even though I thought you were the most perfect puppy I’d ever seen, but didn’t want to get too close because you were supposed to be Dad’s buddy. That lasted all of four minutes. When I sat down on the floor, in the midst of all the puppies running around the floor, the most magical thing happened. You picked me. You walked over to me and lay down with your head on my foot. You fell asleep and I fell in love. Dad never stood a chance with the two of us

It’s been over eleven years and you are asleep with your head on my foot as I type this. There were times when I didn’t think either of us was going to make it. When you got sick after your Parvo vaccine and the vet finally said there was nothing more to do for you, that you had to decide to survive, I decided for you. I didn’t let you out of my arms. Mom and Dad would try to get me to leave you alone, saying that you needed to nap in peace. I didn’t buy it. You slept in my arms just fine. I knew that you needed to feel loved if you were going to stick around and you did. You stayed with me and have paid me back in spades. Through the worst days of years of depression, when all I had was you, you were enough. You were enough to convince me to take it one day at a time, to crawl out of bed when all I wanted was to hide from the world, to take care of you when I couldn’t take care of myself. You slowly brought laughter back into my life. Your cancer scare was one of the worst times of my life because I thought you were leaving me. Seeing you with all of the surgical incisions from having seven lumps removed, in so much pain just to walk, I didn’t know if I could take it because I didn’t know how you could stand to hurt so much. You were so brave, though, as long as I was there with you. Even now, with your kidneys starting to fail and your eyesight getting worse, I know we don’t have as much time as I want left, but I know you’re ok as long as we’re together.

Just the thought of your face makes me smile. You are so perfect. You’re the most handsome boy in the world! I can’t wait to get home to you to see your goofy self and hear all about your day as I walk in the door. Your howling ‘talk’ might get on some people’s nerves, but I love it. It reminds me of how much you love me and how much you need me and how lucky I am to have you. You let me sit on the couch with you. You let me sleep in my bed with you. You let me sing you silly songs about you and don’t even care how dorky they are (although I happen to think the Dewey version of ‘he’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain’ is sheer genius). You cuddle with me when I’m upset or just to be close. When I’m sick, you keep watch, staring at me from the other pillow on the bed. I love when you puff your cheeks repeatedly when you’re annoyed. I love that you will lift up your leg when I walk past you, insisting on a belly rub. I love that you make snow angels in the snow over and over and over again. I love that you will lie down on the sofa and push people off when you are tired and want people to leave the house. I love everything about you and I will spend the rest of your life proving it to you because you picked me.

Dear Ella,

Ella…

The grace of vision in your right eye is gone, but the twinkle still burns strong. You have seen much; a farm built running behind the tractor, endless days of veggies planted, weeding more weeding more weeding, why I know you ask do I ever weed so much? Cold salmon days swimming on Griffin Creek, Super Secret Swims, romps with Flash, two boys born, drives across the country, Chautauqua LOVE, friends lost, battles with liver cancer, everyday we write a new chapter in gratitude, your snore your stank keep us real and give us great vision! Vision and hope to smile and live the days full. You fill my heart with infinite sweetness, your paws pushing through the clear waters swimming in the chilled earth bring pure joy and the simple truth of how little it really takes to be happy, a ball, a lake and a roll!
We love you Miss Ella!!!