I keep telling myself “he’s just a dog.”
But I’m not buying it.
He’s my best friend. He’s been there every day for nearly 13 years. My work-at-home office buddy. The one I talk to when no one else is around. The one who is always happy to see me. To go for a walk in the park. Or a run or a hike. Or just to let me give him a hug when I need one (one of the main reasons I love having a dog nearly as big as me!).
And now it’s time to say goodbye.
I know it’s time. The vet said “don’t wait too long.”
I know he’s in pain. He’s struggling. He’s tired. He’s ready.
But I’m not. Not ready to let go. It’s too painful.
You see, Maverick was a rescue dog.
But the truth is, he rescued me.
After we lost our beloved Dakota at age four to cancer, the house was too empty. My husband was at work all day. The kids were at school. And I was home working, alone. Then we adopted Maverick. And he filled the empty void in the house and in my heart. And I can never thank him enough for that. For showing up at just the right time and becoming my new best friend when I needed one the most.
I do believe our dogs find us more than we find them.
And as much as we like to think they belong to us, the truth is they are just here to walk with us on our journey for a short while. And bring some joy, love, laughter, and light-heartedness into lives that are often filled with too much seriousness.
So as I sit here writing with him sleeping in the next room, knowing this is our last day together, and guessing he probably knows it, too, I’m trying to focus on remembering the good times. To remind myself that soon he will once again be able to chase birds, and go for walks and hikes… and do all the things he loves but can no longer do in his old, tired body.
And I pray that I can get through tomorrow and the days that follow, with a smiling memory in my heart for all the good times, and all the love he gave.
As I told my son last night and my daughter this morning, there’s no two ways about it… this sucks. Letting go of someone you love is hard. But the alternative is to never allow yourself to experience that love. And, as hard as this is, I don’t think that’s a trade-off I would ever choose.
Life is about loving, sharing, and connecting with others.
And sometimes those others are not of the human variety. But I also know that to live a full life also means to embrace all of it. And that means the good and the bad. So at the end you have no regrets. Maverick has lived a full life. And I am so grateful he chose to spend it as a member of our family. As my daughter says, “he’s almost like a person.” And, it’s true. He is. And that’s why it hurts so much to say goodbye.
But I will remember the happiness he has brought me. All the joy and good times. And try to move on.
Goodbye buddy. I will miss you more than you know. My life is richer for having had you in it. Doggie heaven is getting a true angel. Be sure to say “hi” to Dakota for me.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 17, 2013: Maverick passed peacefully, on his bed, on Saturday, February 16th, with my husband Louie, son Jake, and me lovingly by his side.