The problem with dogs is that it feels as though they were always there. And we kid ourselves that they always will be.
Where it all began
I remember the day you came home like it was yesterday. And yet, it seems like a lifetime ago. You trotted in, sniffed around and curled up happily on your bed. They said not to let you off the lead for a few weeks. They thought you would run off as you were still getting used to your new environment. But I knew they were wrong.
You were so attached to me, we let you off the lead that first day and you ran straight to my side. It feels like you’ve never left.
So much has changed since then. Other pets have come and gone, we’ve moved house, got married, had children. There have been amazing times and terrible times and sometimes, nobody was there for me.
Except for you. Trotting along beside me or curled up happily in your bed, just like you always were. Just like you always will be, until you fade away. To be replaced by an empty space. A void. A silence. The one who was always there.
And now, you are a little slower. A little grey around the muzzle and your trot has turned to a laboured walk. You don’t hear me when I call. You don’t see as well as you used to. But you are still there, just like you always were.
Twice a day we walk together. Sometimes alone, sometimes with company. We leave the house and walk up the road. You nuzzle my hand and jump slightly to let me know how happy you are to be with me. Sometimes you play for a moment with the other dog or chase a ball. But usually you plod slowly, breaking into a trot only to run to my side. Just like you always did.
But with each walk, you are a little slower. Each time you curl up in your bed, you stay a little longer. With every day, you are fading. Slowly but visibly. Because your life is so short. And yet, you live in the moment. Loving fully, devoting yourself completely. Fading slowly.
Until you fade away
And when you can fade no more and your time is come, I will be there. By your side, where I’ve always been. Loving you until you fade away. Because you were there when nobody else was. And in your hour of need, I’ll be there too.
And then, life will go on. And when the dark times come as they must, I will look back fondly on the wonderful years when you were by my side. Totally devoted and unfailingly there. Like you always were.