August 17th, 2009

Letter to our dog

Dear Jake,

I am writing this letter to let you know how loved you were. It is part memoriam and part therapy, to subdue my guilty conscience for neglecting you when Olivia and Ian came into this world.

I don’t have many memories from your first seven years of life. You were raised by your daddy who was single at the time. But, oh what a life you had.

My first memory of you is you trying to get into the bed when your daddy and I were dating. Your daddy was against it, but I couldn’t resist. I let you make your place between us, under the covers, head on the pillow.

You swam in the ocean daily, went to work with daddy and traveled far and wide. He was happy to share his left over steak and never hesitated to stop at Wendy’s to get you a BK Broiler. He was careful not to feed it to you before hanging out the window to cool. I chastised him for feeding you this way, but now I am glad you had that experience. Dog food looks awful.

When your daddy asked me to marry him, I was really concerned about how well you would get along with your new siblings. Kitties seemed to be more of a menu item than companions. You proved me right the first night. You cornered them immediately. I will never forget Tangy’s face upon your first introduction. Fear of you ruled their lives until the very end. They won’t admit it, but I am sure they miss you. Although, I am sure they don’t miss the baby gate that separated you guys for the last seven years.

Because you always lived in apartments, daddy took you to the park many times a day. That all changed when we had a house, the backyard became your playground. And you hated using it for your bathroom, tiptoeing around the edge so you wouldn’t step in the previous deposit. How I wish daddy would have kept up with that better.

Then I went ahead and had babies. What an evil woman I was. Poor guy. Your life changed so drastically. Within one year you had two kitties and one little girl to contend with. We had to keep you from sleeping with us to make room for her. She discovered you and poked and prodded you endlessly. Your growls let it be known, you were already too old for this.

We got you a puppy so you could have a friend and so he might teach you kitties can be fun. Instead, he chewed the house up, jumped on you, ate your food and took more attention from you. What a trooper you were. I can only think you were relieved, when we had to ship him off. He nearly broke your back he got so big. And he got into too much trouble. That was something you never were.

You figured out shortly after I moved in, that I was the one to follow for treats and attention. You never stopped trying for more attention. I’d go outside, you’d go outside. I’d come in, you’d come in. You had to learn how to tap the door to come in, because I would forget you were behind me.

Then Ian came along. You tolerated him much better. Was it his endless treat giving? Or the fact he would wait for you at the door and let you in? He seemed to respect your space. But, never hesitated to give you a pat whenever you passed by.

I hope you can forgive me for all the times I yelled at you for being underfoot, for stepping on you one million times, for forgetting your dinner during the hectic family times, for loving my cats, and for even bringing the kids into your life.

Thank you for never hurting those kids even when they bothered you, for barking every time a delivery truck went down the street and at every noise you heard in the house – especially when the babies were sleeping, for cleaning the floor on an hourly basis, for sometimes cleaning the table, even when you weren’t asked, for not eating the cats even though you wanted to, and for making me feel safe when your daddy was away.

In the end, your days at daddy’s office were few. And once I was able to let you back into the bedroom, you needed to be lifted to comfort. You missed making it outside one too many times. These moments were beyond heartbreaking. We knew your time had come.

Your life has changed once more. Ours is left with an empty couch, yours is filled with endless love. I had to move the furniture around, just so I didn’t have to look at your daily spot. Olivia took the news better than I thought. Ian threw you a ball yesterday, calling for you and asking where you were. I had our favorite breakfast, but you weren’t there to finish the crust from the peanut butter toast.

I miss you. We miss you. You wanted to go, we could see it in your eyes. I hope you heard all these things I wrote that I whispered in your ear the last moments. And I hope you are happy there, chasing the cats in heaven to your heart’s delight.

Our family will never be the same.