Dogs, man. This one’s gonna be tough to crank out. If you consider yourself on the higher end of being an empath, or have ever loved a dog more than anything, I’m telling you to proceed with caution. If you’re looking for a feel-good piece, this might not be it. With that being said, I’m not going to be upset if you skip this one. I’ll still be around, churning out more of the fun ones too.I’m not the type of guy that thinks about mortality often. In fact, the only time I do find myself thinking about it is when it’s kicking me square in the shorts. Despite considering myself an emotional person, I’m not the type of guy who likes to show emotions a lot. Not quite sure whether to blame that on being Irish, “Catholic”, or something else entirely. I’m not ashamed of dropping a couple tears here and there, but have only outright cried a few times as an adult. This past weekend was one of em.
The Tough News
My mom let me know that the family dog, Keela, wasn’t doing well and had taken a turn for the worse. You always know when a dog is getting older and you’ve got to start preparing yourself. The first time you have to help them into the car is always hard. They’ll start to get a lot more tired after short walks than they did after a day full of running as a pup. In labs particularly, you often start to feel all sorts of malignant/benign tumors. Keela had PLENTY of those, no matter where you were petting her. Eventually you’ll start to see their eyes going more hazy and you’re blatantly aware that the end of the road is probably coming fast. Knowing the signs and having time to prepare never makes it any easier to accept, it just gives you more time to think about it.Before you get too sad and upset, I feel that I need to tell you she’s old. As a 15 year old Black Lab x Setter mix, she’s seen a lot of life. What makes this one the toughest for me and the rest of the family is actually seeing the very end. You see, the dog my parents got when I was a baby, Karch, was hit by a vehicle and passed in his prime. Our last lab, Kodie, lived a long life too. Somehow, he ended up finding the strength (from seemingly nowhere) to take off and come to rest on his own terms. This time around, there will be no surprise or suspense about our dog passing. I’m still not quite sure if that’s a blessing or a burden. All I know is that it’s tough.
Always Been a Dog Guy
I know most single guys expect to “pick up chicks” with a new puppy or a cute dog (or dogs). Odds are, they probably will, but there’s also a 100% chance that I’m also going to be coming up to give boops or, at the very least, compliment it. I’ve always been a dog guy. From when I was
in high school of very appropriate age, I found myself passing out next to the dog bed at people’s houses more times than I care to admit. Was that a weird thing to do? Yeah, probably. Would I do it all over again? Every single time.
The Goodest Boys/Girls
Growing up, I’ve always thought that the whole “rainbow bridge” description of a dog’s passing was a little…I don’t know, over the top? Having now experienced the process of losing a dog as an adult, you’d think that to be even more true, but it’s not. The description makes all that much more sense because that’s what dogs bring to your life. Sunshine and rainbows. They’re just happy to be there; something that loves you unconditionally 100% of the time…even if it doesn’t seem like it when they’re pushing their paws into you while stretching out in the middle of the night.
Everybody on planet earth thinks that their dog is the best dog, and you know what? They’re all right. Everybody’s dog IS the best dog. All of them. That’s why all dogs go to heaven. In each of their own unique methods, dogs always find a way to make you feel good.
Recently, I was in a pretty bad mood while visiting my parents. It seems silly because I can’t remember why now, it’s completely irrelevant. In the dead of the night, while I was up tossing and turning I heard the tippy taps and clicking of her nails on the floor as she made her way through the kitchen with one loud *clomp* every fourth step. She had a growth on one of her paws that was so absurdly loud that it was just comical to listen to in the middle of the night. By the time she made her way to the foot of the couch, my mood had already changed. The happy face and cuddle on the couch was just a cherry on top.
Man’s Best FriendThere’s something about a family dog that’s comforting in such a unique way that’s hard to explain. Even if it’s not “your dog” they’re always there when you find yourself coming home for the weekend or on holidays. Keela has been no different for me. She’s been with our family her whole life. From day one, I can recall bringing her home right after I had gotten my license. I’ll always remember being told I couldn’t sleep with the puppy on the first night, and then sneaking into the basement to do it anyways. My brother and sister will tell you differently, but this is why I was always the favorite.
There’s plenty I’m going to miss about my family dog. I’ve always loved the funny noises, grunts, and groans they all seem to make when they get older. Mostly though, I’m going to miss having someone up to greet me without fail every time I come home late. When the rest of the house is long asleep, she’d either come welcome me at the door or wait for me to come and say hi to her, whacking her tail on the ground as hard as possible the whole time. Just happy to see you, whenever that may be.
I feel lucky to have been in my hometown last weekend when I got the news. Having the whole family around to all say our goodbyes and get to see her made it a little easier. It’ll be weird to go back home and have her not be there. To see the empty space where her kennel, toys, and beds used to be. She took one last ride to the park where she was towed around in a wagon, surrounded by some of her own canine friends for their own goodbyes too. RIP to a real one. I’m going to miss you Keela-girl.
Extra Boops All Around
If you made it all the way to the end of the read here, you’re probably a better person than I am. I appreciate you coming on the ride and apologize for the bumps and broken stories sprinkled in along the way. This one was more for me than it was for you. Congratulations, you’re a therapist now. Just do me one favor and take a little extra time out to spend with and focus on your pup if you’ve got one. Or if you’ve got multiple dogs. An extra treat, a longer walk, a couple extra boops, whatever is going to make them happy and give you even one more memory to look back on when you need it later.
I’ve been hit by cars three times, which is an indication of how long it takes me to learn a lesson.
I write about everything across the board, but focus on Hockey and the pain that is Minnesota sports.
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