This dog of mine. So much more than a dog. His gentle soul housed in a majestic, strong, beautiful body. There’s something awe-inspiring about making friends with an animal that could actually kill you if he chose to but instead buries his head in your lap to offer comfort and know when to make goofy faces at you when you need to laugh.
Chief and I met when he was a little less than two years old. He’d been living in a no-kill shelter in Evergreen, Colorado. I’d been living in a crappy duplex in Denver, still licking my wounds from a divorce and the resulting financial mess.
It was love at first sight. He has been so much more than my dog. He has been my friend. My protector. My keeper of secrets.
Chief’s magical stress-reducing powers have never been a disappointment. Rubbing his head and running my fingers along his soft puppy-furry ears has soothed my soul for 10 years now.
10 years my friend and I have walked in the rain, snuggled on the sofa and explored the woods together.
For 10 years, I have enjoyed my silly, stinky, loving, pooping, shedding, beautiful and beloved and amazing dog. So much more than a dog.
When Tucker was born, I worried about how Chief would react. Silly me. This gracious dog of mine immediately accepted my human son. He loved him before he was even born.
Tucker came home and disrupted Chief’s life, interrupted his schedule, messed up our pecking order, and Chief forgave him. Loved him. He forgave me for cutting our walks short when I needed to. He gracefully accepted becoming number two.
Chief has never not been in Tucker’s life.
Chief has never not been in Tucker’s life until now. Until today.
It is with a heavy heart and swollen eyes that I write about having just left the vet’s office. Just minutes ago, I held my dog’s head in my lap while he took his last breath. Just minutes ago I walked away from his body. Although I am home now, just minutes ago, I looked for him.
There’s a Chief-shaped hole in my life.
I keep having random thoughts. I wonder what I’ll tell my son when he comes home and Chief isn’t here. Will he notice? Which is worse – having to explain death to a three year old who doesn’t have the language to understand it or not having to explain because he doesn’t seem to notice the Chief-shaped hole?
Did Chief understood my last words to him? I hope he heard me when I told him that he will always be so much more than a dog. That he will forever be my keeper of secrets.
I hope he understood me when I said thank you. Chief , my friend, thank you for sharing my home, my life, and my memories for the past 10 years.
2001 – April 19, 2013