by Rudy Golden
My sweet puppy dog…It’s been a little over a week since you went to Heaven. By far, the hardest week of our lives. I thought that in my lifetime, I’ve experienced enough death to know devastation…but yours has left me truly heartbroken. There is an actual ache in my heart and I find myself short of breath when I think about you…Most of the love that comes in and out of our lives is complex…it has ups and downs, ebbs and flows…But the love we shared with you was so simple and pure. Perhaps that’s what makes your loss so difficult. Having you was like having a child that never grows up, only ever wants to make us happy, never gets mad or spiteful, and doesn’t outgrow ridiculous displays of affection. It was simply beautiful.
I always knew how much I wanted you and how much I loved you. But, one thing that always struck me was just how much Daddy loved you…I have never seen him fall in love so completely and so quickly. With me, it took him a few months…with your brothers, he had nine months to grow to love them….But with you, it was different. He wasn’t even sure he wanted you…I’m pretty sure he only agreed to get you because I wanted you so badly. But the night we picked you up, and they handed over all 3 lbs. of you in your yellow receiving blanket, he fell deeply and madly in love with you instantaneously. It was magical to watch.
We were both totally unembarrassed about our love for you and unapologetic for the way we spoiled you. You got only the best food and treats. You never stayed in a kennel, because none would have been good enough for you…we either took you on vacation or Naya would take time off from work to stay with you. You were hand-fed treats, because as I explained to Daddy early on…”Manzoli dogs are handfed…they don’t catch treats like circus dogs.” You slept in our bed, because what was the point in having something so cute if you can’t cuddle with it while you sleep. You came to everyone’s house…even people who didn’t like dogs…because you won over even the biggest dog critics, and everyone knew that the rules just didn’t apply to you anyways. And your special treatment didn’t stop once we had the boys…we just taught them how to treat you the way you deserved!
I find in these first few days since your passing that I’m missing all of your idiosyncrasies…All of the things that made you “you,” and made you “ours”…Because as Robin Williams said in Good Will Hunting, “That’s the good stuff!” I miss you pushing open the bathroom door while I shower and stealing my underwear. I miss you watching us leave from the dining room window when we go out, and miss you running down the stairs to greet us when we get home. I miss catching you walking around on top of the kitchen table eating scraps after the boys forget to clear their plates. I miss watching you try to figure out how to pretend that you didn’t get caught when you were too afraid to jump back down off the table. I miss you pinning me down with both of your paws to kiss my entire face...we could lay like that for 15 minutes sometimes! I miss seeing you get totally out of control playing with the boys. I miss tripping over you when you fall asleep on the stairs and I don’t notice you over my growing belly. I miss looking out the kitchen window and seeing you frolic around the backyard. I miss scratching that special spot behind your ear that made you melt like putty in my hands. I miss inhaling you when I would kiss you, and how your hair was softer than any other dogs. I miss catching you sleeping on your back with all 4 legs in the air. I miss seeing Leo nuzzle into you with his whole head while he calls you his “puppy dog” and I miss seeing you snuggle with Jack and how you made him belly laugh when you got really silly…I miss watching them both giggle when you lick their toes. I especially miss you when they both walk in the door and call out for you, forgetting that you’re not here. I miss bumping into you when I roll over in my sleep…it actually wakes me up when I don’t feel you now. I miss cuddling on the couch with you after the boys would go to sleep…I know that was your favorite time of day because you got some 1:1 time (and because you loved Bravo as much as me! )
As time rolls on, there will be so many things I will continue to miss…The next trip up to Shrewsbury, I will miss you sniffing the air from the car vent the second we turn onto Floral Street because you smell that Naya and Papa’s house is close. When the baby comes, I will miss bringing her home to meet you…You were always so excited and curious about newborns. I will miss you climbing in my lap while I’m trying to nurse her because you’re jealous. When we sit at the pool on hot days, I will miss that you would rather swelter outside than stay cool in the house...just because you always wanted to be where we were. When the first snow finally comes, I will miss watching you sink completely in it while you frolic, and I will miss blow drying the snowballs off your belly when you decide to come in. I will miss watching you play with wrapping paper on every birthday and Christmas. I will even miss you when the UPS man comes and you’re not there to bark at him.
We’ve been through so many milestones and chapters of life together. You were right there through 2 and a half pregnancies, 2 babies’ homecomings, parties and holidays, a house move, several job changes, and the losses of three grandparents. You’ve comforted me and Daddy through all of the trials and tribulations, happiness and despair, that come with life, marriage, and parenting.
I regret that God took you too soon…But I don’t regret a single day with you. Not even the days when you were really sick. I am actually thankful that I could hold you while you had more seizures than I can count and that I was given the opportunity to nurse you back to health several times. In fact, that made me love you more…You possessed a will to live that was stronger than anything I’ve seen. Your doctors counted you out so many times, but you always pulled through…They called you “the little dog that could.” And we know that you would have kept fighting to be with us forever, but this time, it just wasn’t fair to ask you to do it for us. We had to let you find some peace. Everyone has their interpretation of Dog Heaven, and they are all beautiful sentiments…But for me…I like to think that you’re sitting in my Nana’s lap and she’s feeding you all the ridiculous things you weren’t supposed to eat. She would spoil you as much as we did, so you should be with her now.
You certainly deserved a better hand than you were dealt, and for that I’m so sorry. I’m sorry we couldn’t stop or cure your epilepsy…I’m sure it must have been scary for you. And I will never know how each seizure or all of those medications made you feel. But thank you for staying with us as long as you did. And please know that we did EVERYTHING we could to fix this for you, because if love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. You enriched all of our lives and taught us all about unconditional love. You made my boys kinder, gentler souls and you’ve taught them important lessons about love, the meaning of family, selflessness, and loss. Once as we were watching you stare at us with those big beautiful brown eyes, Uncle Joey told me that he had heard that when a dog stares into your eyes, that he is “hugging you with his soul.” Your soul has touched me more times than I can know, and I carry it within mine now. In fact, anyone who knew you was touched by your beautiful, silly soul. Thank you for being our “first born” and brother, our best friend, our comedian, our protector, and now our guardian angel. We miss you sweet boy…Rest in Peace.
I love you…