I recently wrote a short essay about my dog. She made quite the impression on my family. I shared the essay online, and the last time I looked, it was shared over 5,000 times. Hundreds of people emailed me personally or sent private messages to send their condolences and tell me about the dog or dogs that they've loved and lost. It was so incredibly heartwarming.
Here's my story ...
She arrived in a van full of unwanted castoffs, most of which had been abused in some way; a three legged pit mix, an elderly chihuahua, an extremely anxious husky that never made eye contact, a chubby bulldog, and her.
The pack burst through our side gate with tremendous enthusiasm, and I loved watching them play in the back yard. They were finally safe and they knew it. My job was to take pictures of them, so the woman running the dog rescue could find them homes. Better pictures meant a better chance of being adopted, so I volunteered my services as much as possible.
She waddled through the gate, and it was her big honey-colored eyes and long eye lashes I noticed first. She was an overweight, middle aged, Pit Mix that no one wanted, scheduled to be euthanized a few days prior, but pulled just in time.
The dogs swam in our pool and romped happily in the sunshine, except for her. She snuck in our back door, where I eventually found her passed out amongst my two children who were just toddlers at the time. The yelling and giggling did not deter her, and she fell fast asleep beside them, snoring like an exhausted 70 year old farmer who had been working the land since dawn. In our home she would remain until her passing 8 years later.
Dogs come into our lives for a reason, each one with a special purpose. I've loved them all with every fiber of my being, and I've grieved their passing with the same intensity, however there was something special about her. She was my soulmate. I lost my own mother at a young age, and have never felt comfortable in the role. I know how to love unconditionally, but raising children is beautiful and terrifying and so confusing, and I often felt like I was falling short. Her presence kept me calm. She was one part fierce protector, one part organic pillow, and one part wise sage Indian warrior. Her knowing glances said: you are doing your best.
It's hard to explain such a bond to those that don't love dogs like I do. Over the years I've stopped trying; you either get it or you don't, and it's perfectly okay either way. They are the epitome of pure love, pure joy, pure patience, and with all of our lofty aspirations to imitate them, we continue to fall short. There is simply nothing like a dog.
She arrived in a van full of unwanted castoffs, and my job was to photograph them so they could be adopted. I never took a single picture of her that day. What would be the point? She was already home.