I knew the time was coming. It started slowly at first, a series of days where he was spunky, and ready for action, followed by a day where I was painfully reminded of his age, and that we didn’t have forever.
Then it happened faster, and faster. Muscle atrophy, the slow way in which he became more quiet.
In September of last year, I had to make the decision to set the final day of my best friend’s life.
On October 1, our veterinarian and one of this assistants slowly came up our long driveway, to where my 15 1/2 year old, sweet boy and I sat, on his “garage bed”, in the early autumn sun.
He finally let me know it was time just weeks before after taking his photo with my son. I knew they would be the last of the two of them, knowing full well that once the colder months set in, time would be out. So I did my annual holiday card photos on a hot summer day just so I could have them.
Even though I knew there would be no using them on our cards that year.
It was his eyes. The way he looked at me through my lens. It was time.
So I called and set the date.
I told my family so they would have their time to come and say goodbye.
Goodbye to the dog that shaped my adult years. Was by my side during the hardest times.
Goodbye to the dog that was such a huge part of all of our lives. Even beyond my family, he was a part of the community.
Everyone knew Dunkin.
In the days that lead up to Oct. 1, we had our “one mores”. Not our lasts, but one more.
One more trip to Dunkin’s for Munchkins.
One more trip to McDonald’s.
One more trip out on the kayak.
And then, it was time to go our separate ways.
It was hard, but each day, my heart felt less heavy.
I’d given him a life of love, snuggles, warmth, treats. I showed him that not everyone left him like his first family had. That people did stay. People were capable of loving, caring.
He’d shown me love wasn’t with condition, and didn’t have to be violent.
We both came together in a time of need, healed, and lived a damn good life.
The hardest part, despite my reconciliation that our time together was done, was my son.
The pain, the heartbreak. The tears. Even now, so many months away.
The goodbyes hurt the most. It’s a new season of healing. But we’ll get there.