I feel so blessed my friend Kelly (you’ve met her before here and here) is sharing with us today about her dog-turned-family-member, Arnie. Making Lemonade is a place where we try our very best to make lemonade out of life’s sour circumstances, but also stay realistic and allow ourselves to feel down when things are hard. I know you’ll give Kelly lots of love, virtual hugs, and perhaps a sloppy dog kiss or two.
The night before we first picked you up when you were a puppy, I actually cried. “Eric, I think this is a mistake. Dogs are dirty, slobbery and a lot of work. They jump on people and eat your shoes. I think I changed my mind.” But my husband, Eric, in his infinite wisdom stayed calm, and said, “Just give it a chance, I think you are going to love him.”
And love you, I did.
I would rush home every night from work to be with you – our first boy. You were the sweetest bundle of fur and energy. You made us laugh, you taught us responsibility, and you made Eric and I feel like a real family in our first years of marriage. You rode in the car with us for every errand, were the topic of every conversation, graced every one of our Christmas cards, and opened us up to the world around us with our never-ending walks.
I even broke down and let you sleep in bed with us on cold winter nights. Do you know how much room an 85-pound lab takes up in a queen-sized bed? Somehow during the night you slowly commandeered the most real estate. Yes, we complained, but it felt good to have your furry head resting on my feet.
Because nobody (and no dog) is perfect, let’s talk about the things you weren’t. Sorry, buddy, but you were not brave. Remember the time we saw a huge buck ahead of us on one of our walks, and you hid behind me? Or how about the fact that any noise in the house that happened after 8pm was ignored, because you were in bed and “off duty”? That’s okay. We forgive you. We knew that even if you got up to investigate a burglary you would just lick the intruder to death, anyway. Finally – let’s talk about your snoring. It started the first night you lived with us and never stopped since. It sounded like a freight train but it still made us laugh every time.
We suffered a lot of losses throughout your life with us, and somehow you always seemed to know. I remember coming home from the hospital after the worst loss imaginable and seeing you run up to us in the driveway as if to say, “It’s going to be okay. I’m here. I’m still your baby.” There were some days that taking you for a walk was the only thing that got me out of bed. You saved me, and you didn’t even know it.
And then came the boys. When we brought PJ home, you ran over, sniffed, licked him, and seemed excited. But when Ben came home there was a little less enthusiasm. Your reaction seemed to say, “Oh, great. Here we go again.” Most people told us that when kids come into the picture, the family dog gets demoted to second-class citizen. But not you. You remained the oldest sibling and were a part of everything we did as a family. Every video, every picture, every holiday, every car ride, you were there…
How will we be a family without you?
For such a big dog you had a very fragile soul. Your sensitive feelings did not make your many trips to the vet easy. Many surgeries, some seizures and even routine visits were so hard on you. Which is why we knew you would not want to live like this. Not able to go on walks, not able to swim, not able to stand up without help. We could see it in your eyes. It was time.
I don’t know how we will walk into the house without you coming to the door and grabbing a shoe for us. I don’t know how we will see the mail coming and know you won’t bark your ferocious yet harmless bark. I don’t know how I can survive the clock turning 4:15 pm and not have you stand in front of us, staring with your “Where is my dinner?” face. I don’t know how we will ever be able to take a family picture without you in it again.
And here is where I run out of words. There are none that can express what we are feeling. It’s a crushing, selfish feeling of wanting you with us forever, and knowing we can’t.
We love you so much, Arnie. You were the greatest dog a family could ever ask for. You will be in our hearts always.
Run fast. Swim your heart out. Eat lots of peanut butter. Take lots of naps.
Goodbye, sweet boy. We love you.