In the last two days we have cried all of the tears. And then we cried a little bit more. And just for good measure, we made sure to shed some more tears.
We said goodbye to our 14-year-old labrador retriever on Sunday. Our boys have not known an existence without this pup in it. Of our 15 years of marriage, he’s been part of over 14 of them. We just don’t know life without him.
This is really hard.
The early years (0-2)
This dog was the end of me. He ruined all of the things: Carpet, furniture, shoes, and even my underwear for goodness sake! Watching Marley and Me was like watching our lives play out on TV.
During his obedience training class test, he peed on the orange cone. He dragged me around the neighborhood as I tried to walk him. Every comforter in the house has a nice hole from where he cuddled and chewed it.
I can not believe we did not return this wild and crazy creature.
Yet, we treated him like our child. He slept in our bed each night. My husband shared his cereal and peanut butter with him.
We were flabbergasted when we visited a family member in Montana and they insisted on our precious 80-lb pet sleeping outside.
Sleep outside? Our precious baby has never been outside ALONE a day in his life!!! (Of course, now I realize how ridiculous we were and yes, he did sleep outside and survive that night in the Montana wilderness.)
The middle years (3-5)
Suddenly, almost overnight, this dog stopped destroying all of the things and started doing something unbelievable: Behaving. We could leave him out of his kennel for periods of time without coming home to a complete disaster. He could be trusted. This was amazing.
This was also the time period that we introduced human children into our fold. And he was amazing. He adored these smelly new creatures and was so gentle with them.
The adult years (5-10)
We moved our family out to the country. Our beloved pup, who had known no existence outside of suburbia, could now romp and play all over the countryside.
His routine consisted of a daily trip to the creek down the hill, hunting all of the rabbits and squirrels in the neighborhood, and dragging every deer carcass in a 5 square mile radius into our yard. One of our favorite memories is when he pranced pretty-as-you-please into our yard, with a dead cat that had been frozen stiff as a board in his mouth.
Lots of screeching ensued.
It was also during these years that I took up running. And he made the most excellent running partner. He would run 2.5 miles for every one that I ran.
These were the great years.
The golden years (11-14)
My husband took a job in a new town and so we moved our family once again. Back into town we go, which was perfect for an aging pup. He spent his last years being adored by our boys and an entire neighborhood of kids. He would lazily explore our yard and the surrounding neighborhood, but would spend most of his days napping.
But every night, he slept in our room. He could no longer jump on our bed, but he nuzzled up at the foot of the bed.
Even when he could no longer climb steps, my husband would carry him to our room.
But then it just got too hard. Standing became too difficult, walking a chore, and the look in his eyes told me he was tired.
It was time and none of us were ready to say goodbye.
But we knew it was the right thing to do.
Things I know for sure:
- He was a great dog. (The best actually, but I may be biased.)
- He lived a good life.
- He will be deeply, sorely missed.