I miss you a little, since you've been gone
A few little memories keep hanging on
I miss you a little, I guess you could say
A little too much, a little too often, a little more everyday
- John Michael Montgomery
Time marched on and I found myself looking into college options. I decided to stay at home and commute to a good private school just down the road. My parents were so happy that two days after my 18th birthday they found themselves driving clear across the state to pick up an 8 week old black and white male Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
I still vividly remember the day they brought him home. They had told me they were going on a business trip and would be back long before they showed up. I had gotten my hair cut that day and when I heard them enter through the laundry room I just said something about how late they were getting back. They were acting a little strange and so I turned my recliner chair around to see what was going on. And nothing was. They were standing in the doorway looking back towards the laundry room. Odd. And then finally, as if the initial inspection of the new digs were satisfactory after all, in sauntered the most adorable and self righteous looking pup I had ever seen. My dad laughed saying "you know you might still have him when you are 30." My 18 year old self just laughed, but my now 32 year old self is so thankful that that was true.
Thus began a 14 year journey filled with so much laughter, love and memories that it would take about that long to tell them all. I have my favorites. The ones time will never erase. Like the time he went on a trail ride with me and brand new hubby and puffed out his chest really big and muttered a quiet little "woof" to the hedgerow looking very proud of himself. Thirty seconds later the most ticked off donkey I have ever seen thrust his head through the bushes and screamed ear piercingly loud "heehaw" causing Hero to take off as fast as his little legs could carry him back down the trail toward home with us on the horses galloping after him laughing.
Or how he loved watching TV with PBR (professional bull riding) being his favorite. Every weekend we would watch PBR and he would shake his toys and buck at the TV. But he could only watch a half an hour or else he would seriously get bad dreams.
Or how he loved his hikes in the woods. He could go for miles and miles and as a pup I'd have to take him out morning and evening to tire him out. I've seen so many wonderful parks and explored so many beautiful trails because of him. I learned to love winter hiking especially after a fresh snowfall. My mom and I would rush out to the local trails to be the first ones to make tracks in the newly fallen snow. And every single time some man in size 15 boots would always somehow beat us to it. We used to get so angry.
Everyone who met him loved him. It was impossible not to. He wasn't exceptionally cuddly or loving, but he had charisma to spare.
When you love an animal you know there will be a day when you have to say goodbye. When you must part ways and rely on those memories to get you through until you can see him again. You know this, but yet when the time comes you are never ready. I sure wasn't and at least I had known for a while that time was running out. He was slowly losing interest in everything he loved. And he was in pain.
Saturday morning we went on one last walk and he wouldn't even get out of the van. When he did I could easily see he just didn't have it in him anymore. He was tired, weak and in pain and the only thing left to do was allow him to be free again. So we sat outside in the grass and I held him so tight and kissed him so big and said my goodbye as he drifted off in my arms.
It was the single hardest and most heart breaking thing I've ever had to do. And yet, knowing the end, knowing the pain I still feel today, I would go back and do it all over again. He filled my life with so much love, so much laughter how could I not want to?
It is so hard being home without him. He was such a big presence and truly my world revolved around him. I love him so much. And I miss him even more. I have his favorite toy and his snazzy red plaid collar in safe keeping. Night time is the worst. For 14 years I always have given him a kiss goodnight and told him I loved him and now I can't anymore.
I don't know for sure if there is a heaven. But I can picture him up there with all his old friends from the first park we ever took him to. He was the last hold out of his original group of friends and he had many a motley crew:
Molly, the boxer
Earl, the jack russel terrier
Senji, the basenji
The springer spaniel sisters
Rosco, the basset hound
Buck, the standard poodle
Buck, the lab
Frederick and Theodore, the schnauzers
Arthur and Teddy down the street
He had more friends than I had. And I can picture the reunion in a big grassy field running, tails wagging as they catch up again. And someday down the road I will get to see him again. Until then he will always be the best dog a girl could hope for, the best friend a woman could want and the most dearly loved and missed dog ever.
I love and miss you so much Hero. Thank you for 14 glorious years together. Have fun being strong and young again, running through the woods chasing squirrels and deer with your friends. I will see you again and give you the biggest hug.