We had a good run, Diegos. From the moment you put your little head on my shoulder until tomorrow when, well, I hope you do the same one last time, you have been the best furry friend I could have asked for in this point in my life.
I got you at 25, as I’m now learning people do. Even though I bought a house three months before I bought you, it was you that taught me responsibility. How to read people. How to be a mom, even if that means cleaning pee off of your bottom and your bed twice a day or damn near punching the vet when he yanked your leg. With your fondness for cats, you prepared me to love all my children no matter how much I disagreed with their beliefs and actions. You made me a mama bear, ready for my Eggroll and anyone else who comes behind her.
You taught me about love. You tolerated the old boyfriend because you knew I needed to experience a long-term relationship before the fates gave me Randy. You, too, didn’t seem too sad once he left the scene and it was just you and me. You still loved me even though I had to leave you in a cage for hours there at the beginning. Though I put you in costumes. Though I tried to make you hang with other dogs. Though I didn’t allow you on the furniture anymore. You didn’t care about these silly rules. You showed me to love my family unconditionally and to always show excitement when they walk in the door, whether its 15 minutes or 15 days since I’ve seen them last.
You let me hold you. I needed to hold you when I got the call that dad had his accident. When I got home from that trip sans said parent. When I got the next call about mom. When I lost baby #1. When I went all pregnancy wackadoo with baby #3 (and again when baby #3 was no more). On the other hand, you jumped up and down with me when Randy went to get dinner that night he proposed. You were the first to learn I was pregnant with Eggroll. You let me talk to you endlessly when this working from home business was starting to make me crazy. You NEVER let me cry without you trying to lick away my tears. That’s one of the reasons I know its time. You aren’t doing this anymore.
Since you’ve been around, I’ve lost parents, gained a husband, had a daughter. I’ve learned how to create wills out of thin air. How to start a business. The importance of life insurance. How to pick out lampshades. The shedding cycles of English-bred dogs. I’ve put on some pounds, but my face is thinner. My hair color has changed. My style is different. I drive a different car and have different plants growing in a different garden. Almost nothing is the same as the day we first met.
At first this made me sad. Made me weep for the girl I was and the life I had then. But then I realized you were the catalyst. With you, I got out of the hamster wheel that had me spinning in place, alone and in a job that provided a decent income but not much self-worth. Life now is great. It’s got gigantic holes where parents should be, but it’s great. I am fulfilled. So for that, thank you.
I’m trying to tell myself its time for me to let go of MY dog. MY life isn’t just MY life anymore. You are the last shred of evidence that I was once Maggie Skarich, association manager by day and goer-outer by night. That girl is gone. When I got you, we discussed you being around 15 years which would have taken me to 40. Perhaps that was too much to ask and why you are reneging on the contract. Perhaps you knew that by 35 it would be time for a new pet. One that Eggroll picked out and Randy paid for. One that sees my girl through middle school and me through hiring my first employees.
Oh, Noah, I am going to miss you so much. I’ll miss the never-ending piles of fur and constant barking. I’ll miss the games of fetch and the walks we went on. I’ll miss watching you sleep, all curled up with a blankie. I’ll even miss the shit breath.
In your honor, I will try not to mope. If you were with me when I walk out of that appointment, you would hop on my lap, lick off the tears, and hand me a ball to throw. With body language, you’d tell me to get on with it. I will, Little Man, but first I shall remember your life lessons:
- Be willing to do anything for a cookie. It’s usually worth it.
- It’s OK to push to be first.
- Don’t ever let a person I care about be sad, even if that means putting on a chicken costume.
Please tell mom and dad and Max that I miss them so very much. I hope you are more comfortable wherever you are going. I hope there are hundreds of cats for you to befriend. I hope you can run around and get on the sofa and stand sentry at the window. Watch out for me, OK? Hopefully it’s a long, long time before I’m coming down your road, but it will be nice to know I’ve got one more spirit looking out for me.
I love you, Noah. Today I am grateful for you.