The night we adopted you, you and I relaxed on the sofa together while I watched television. You slept with your head in my lap and I stroked your face. As I did that, I thought about how we would do this again when you were older, when gray invaded your muzzle and you had fully chilled out into senior doghood.
Certainly, we didn’t relax on that sofa very often.
You were a challenging puppy, finding lots of different ways to disrupt my life. From refusing to get into the car to chasing a bear down the street in broad daylight, you captivated my attention. My struggle to contain you finally included a conditional surrender guided by a professional trainer. I cajoled you to be my buddy and tag along with me.
That détente birthed pleasant walks along the roadside and rollicking hikes through the woods. When I hiked five hundred miles in 2013, you probably ran fifteen hundred. Our play included Danger Ball (which finally ended in a yard where the danger didn’t have to include running into the road) and hours of frisbee. Frankly, if you hadn’t pulled me out into the road to play frisbee, I probably wouldn’t be in as good a shape as I am now – which is to say not great, but at least I can walk a couple of miles without breathing heavy.
Each morning when I woke, you would hear my breathing change or body move or I really don’t know but you would know when consciousness occurred and your nose appeared at the side of the bed. If I didn’t move quickly enough, you licked my armpit. Nine out of ten times, I managed to not awaken your other momma with a scream! Yep, you knew all the tricks.
With you herding me to the door, I dressed, grabbed your leash, and we headed out for our walk. The only time you refused was a forty-below-zero day – and even then you left the house. You walked to the end of the block, turned, looked me in the eye, and proceeded home. I followed willingly.
When Ty entered our lives, you took her in as a sister. Your generous spirit shone each time you played and cuddled. Sharing us with her meant taking a cut in attention, but not in love. I hope you felt how our love grew each day.
Your golden age centered around our nephew, Eric. His presence energized you and the two of you ran and biked around town all summer long. After your injurious encounter with a car, you could never run as much. You still wanted to go with him though, and my heart ached each time he had to leave you at home.
Throughout our last move across the country, you were stoic, sitting all day in the back of the car. No complaining. Nothing but gratitude each time we opened that back door and let you out to run.
When we arrived in Weaverville, you found your Grammy utterly entrancing – and she adored you right back. I think you agreed with me that was a reward worth all the discomfort.
Somehow I didn’t realize that, on Easter Sunday, we’d have our last walk. Did you feel it? When your leg spasmed, did you know this was the end? Lots of love came to you in those final moments – cuddles on the floor, hugs and kisses each time we put you in the car, the special king’s seat under the table at Grammy’s house for brunch. We let you pick your place without realizing. I took a moment to finish an essay and we watched a television program. We listened to you pant and smiled when the sound eased, thinking that you were relaxing finally.
But that was it. You were gone.
You missed the tears, the questions, the wondering of what to do now. We passed you into the hands of caring people for cremation and contacted your other loved ones. We picked up your urn today and cried again.
I’m still getting used to the idea of you being gone. Ty does her best to lick the plates clean, but she doesn’t have your tenacity. She’s content to snuggle instead of walk. Today, for the first time, she tried to get us to play with her like you would, but nothing can replace her brother.
I miss you, my frothy little Cappucino. You were a good dog.