The Pain of Losing My Best Friend

My dog Maverick

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.

Maverick and me

Our last trip to dog beach in November

Maverick in my office

Hanging out in my office

Maverick and Cheyenne on a hike

On our last hike together in 2010


Hanging out in one of his favorite quiet spots in the backyard

Saying goodbye to my daughter via Skype

Saying goodbye to my daughter Bri via Skype
(since she lives across the country)


About Debbie

Debbie worked in marketing for 32 years and ran a successful coaching and consulting business for 19. Now she helps people find greater happiness and success by learning how to Follow Inspiration.

15 comments on “The Pain of Losing My Best Friend

  1. I saw Louie post on Facebook last night. So sad, and very much a theme in my household as well.

    My girl, Tusk, will be 14 in early May. Last month she had a bout of Vertigo and I thought I would lose her then. The week-long episode took some of her remaining spunk and everything has been slower since. I know our time together now is short.

    Like you, I’ve been fortunate to have my best friend and muse at my side, on her nest, most days for many years.

    May you savor the memories these next few heart-heavy weeks. He wishes you comfort as always.

    Thank you for sharing a tribute to your pup. They give us so much and deserve to be honored.

  2. Hi Debbie,

    I truly understand and empathize with your pain in losing your beloved dog. I have always believed that they are” little angels” here to open our hearts to unconditional love! What wonderful and patient teachers they are.

    You will miss him dearly, but someday there will be another beautiful soul to guide you through your journey .


  3. Debbie, I am so sorry for your loss. This was a lovely tribute to your long-time companion. I agree that cats or dogs often enter our life when WE need them most. I experienced this with my cat Steele. He was in our lives for a short time but touched us in ways that have left an imprint today. I know it hurts, like someone “punched you in the gut” and only time will fade this feeling. Thank you for sharing your tribute with us.

  4. I’m so sorry, Debbie. It’s so hard to say goodbye to a beloved pet. Maverick’s face is easy to read: love, love, love.
    Our dear cairn terrier, Puppet, was rescued from the shelter 10 1/2 years ago and has been my loyal and loving companion every day since then. We have more days behind us than ahead of us, so I cherish our time together.
    I like to believe there’s a doggy heaven, where these devoted angels spend their time fetching balls, knocking over garbage cans, and napping in sun rays.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss, Debbie! You’re absolutely right, not “just a dog”–but a valued & cherished member of the family. He obviously meant a lot to you, for you to share this with all of us. How fortunate you were to have him & enjoy his love & devotion for so many years. I hope fond memories of this dear buddy will bring you comfort.
    Wishing you peace & love,

  6. Debbie, this was a lovely tribute to your beloved companion. I understand just how hard to is to lose such a well loved member of your family. We lost our very special boy in July. He was only 6 1/2 years old (cancer) but we miss him very much, every day. My heart goes out to you. Only time and a new pup will make it less painful but we will always have a special place in our hearts for the ones that have passed on from this life.
    I wish you comfort in this difficult time,

  7. Debbie,
    Thank you for such a beautiful, open, heart-felt post.
    About ten minutes after I got your email, I pulled into Best Friends’ animal sanctuary here near Kanab, Utah, which I have driven by many times but never visited yet. It was on my list today, and I got your note just before I arrived. While I was there, I passed by their cemetery, which I had not intended to stop at until I saw multiple collections of wind chimes hanging from stands that resembled the old square clothes lines we grew up with. A LOT of wind chimes…maybe ten or a dozen stands with 20 or 30 sets of chimes on each one.

    Since there was a pretty good breeze coming through I just had to stop and hear what all those wind chimes sounded like. And they were exquisite.

    I stood there in the sunshine, feeling the beautiful breeze and listening to the sound of so many angel voices, and thought of you and Maverick. It was incredibly peaceful. Just wanted to let you know.

  8. Debbie & Louie,
    Thank you for being bold and sharing your heart with us. I went through that painful transition as all animal lovers do. Your mind set is correct and well balanced. Keep the energy in focus of the abundance of joy and friendship that you each shared.

  9. Thank you everyone for your kind and supportive words. I am truly blessed to have so many thoughtful people in this community. As a quick update… our house was simply too empty without our loving Maverick. And our other dog, Cheyenne, was absolutely lost without him. So, I am happy to share that we have added a new member to our family. Her name is Hope and she’s a 9-week old golden retriever puppy. The way she came to us was absolutely inspired and magical. She is full of energy and love and will definitely keep me busy. I am convinced she is an angel sent by Maverick to take care of us. And while Cheyenne is still a bit unsure–as a 12-year-old dog she’s not quite up to all the energy Hope has–she no longer seems depressed. Thank you again everyone. I suppose this situation is just another of my lessons in learning to let go and trust. Seems to be a theme in my life lately, but I think I’m finally getting it! 🙂

    Blessings to you all.

  10. Oh Debbie! I feel so much for you! Read this post today and it brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. House animals (dogs, cats) ARE persons! That´s why we love them so much. Thank you for sharing this and for the lovely pictures of Maverick. What a beautiful dog! He most certailny made your and your familys life a happy one, I´m sure.

    Blessings and and a gigantic hug to you,

  11. Pingback: Hope is the Best Medicine

  12. Pingback: God Made a Dog [Video]

  13. Pingback: What Is It About Babies and Puppies?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *