Today I am going to take you on one last ride. You so love to “go bye-bye” in the truck with the windows down, air rushing past your face, as you sit right next to me, and “daddy” drives. I gaze at you sleeping near me in the corner on the kitchen floor. I am grateful you have slipped into a nice sleep. I know it provides you some comfort from all you have been going through these past few days. Fifteen years ago, I was blessed to find you at the shelter. I remember seeing you for the first time. All golden red, all grown up, barely making eye contact with me but still wagging your tail. When I stooped down to get a better look at you, you flinched. I knew someone had hurt you. I talked to the lady at the desk. She told me you had been adopted and returned multiple times. I came back to look at you again, and you held my eyes this time. I fell into those huge amber eyes, and fell in love, and you’ve had my heart ever since. We brought you home to a house already full of cats. They weren’t very welcoming to you at first. Oh, how they changed over time. Look at them now, Nikki. They head-butt and nose-tap you. They follow you around, much to your annoyance. A few of them even sleep with you. Which you pretend not to like. How I have loved our trips to the woods, and the walks off-lead. Such a marvelous dog you are. We never had to train you to do anything. You are amazing. You could walk off-lead, you were house-broken, you never barked, chewed, cried….I cannot understand why someone would not want you. You helped us so much with Sasha when we first brought her home as a little puppy. Now she is twice as big as you, and you can walk under her belly when she stands. Sasha loves you so much, and in all honesty, old girl, Sasha is your dog, not ours. She adores you. I’m not sure she would ever handle another dog. You’re it. You became her mama, and her friend, her protector, her guide. I do not feel good about today. In fact, baby girl, my heart is breaking. I’ve been holding back my tears because I don’t want you to see them, but I’m fairly certain you sense my emotions. You were always so sensitive to that. Over the years, on countless occasions, you would come to me and lay your paw on my leg, then your head in my lap, and comfort me when I needed it most. I used to marvel that you would just know. You have been the very best example of what a true friend is. No judgement. Generosity of spirit. Tenderness of heart. Loyalty unmatched by anyone I have known. My words fail me. My thoughts are scattered, as I sift through years and years of memories. My chest aches with the pain of what I have to do today. I love you. You trust me without question. I do not wish to do this. I do not want to come home without you today. I will not allow you to suffer. You did not deserve cancer. I am steeling my resolve. I will be strong for you. We will go for one last ride today. The wind will rush past our faces together. I will hold you. I will be with you. My heart will shatter when yours stops. It matters not, because this you deserve from me, after all you have given me. Run baby girl, run with all your might. Head across that Rainbow Bridge you see up ahead. It’s okay girl, go on. On the other side is your reward. Eternity with no pain. No suffering. No rejection. No wants. No hurts. And don’t look back like you always do when we go for walks, making sure I’m still there. I will be along shortly. So you go play, baby girl. Love you, Nikki.
(I wrote this on June 30, 2009, in the final hour of my dog’s life. This was very difficult to write, and my words failed to convey the depth of what I was feeling at the time. I miss you Nikki.)