To Love a Dog

I looked at your face today and saw a few more grays where once there was only shiny black fur. You’re only three, but already, I can see the dreaded signs of aging showing up, and if I’m being honest, it jolts my heart and sends panic through me.

Because I’ve been there before with my last four-legged friend. The grays that turn into slower walks and then none at all. The years going from crazy puppy days where you want nothing but sleep to the years flying by in the blink of a second. The days of sprinklers and ice cream and car rides turning into frequent vet trips and constant checks for breathing.

My heart’s been broken already once, so I know the pain that is inevitably mine to come. I know how fast the moments go, how quickly it all just becomes a memory.

But I’ve always known. Even in those early puppy days when you were driving me crazy, when you were getting up at 3am every single day, I reminded myself to take the photos, to go on the adventures, to put the computer down and spend time looking into your brown eyes. You were the wildest, craziest puppy I’d ever owned, and I certainly didn’t get it right all the time.

You made me cry. A lot. You made me think we’d never be best friends like I was with Henry. But eventually, just like he did, you wormed your way into my heart with your crazy quirks. We built routines and memories. We became best friends. And because of that, I know the insufferable heartache that will inevitably come, hopefully later rather than sooner.

Even though it makes me sad to think about, though, Henry taught me one thing with his death: to soak in Every. Single. Moment.

So even though I saw another gray today, I won’t cry. I won’t waste time panicking or worrying about the end. Instead, I’ll take more photos today. I’ll practice some tricks with you. I’ll throw your toy a few extra times and laugh about that time you were afraid of a cereal box. I’ll take in every second, grays and all. Because the beauty of losing Henry was that he reminded me to appreciate every moment with you.

And someday, when we say our horrific, debilitating goodbye, I also know I’ll be okay…because you, too, taught me how to appreciate every single day, how to make the most of our time together, and most of all, how to love unconditionally. And I’ll take that with me to the next four-legged friend who won’t be you or Henry… but will worm his way into my heart, too.

To love a dog is to know you’re going to lose a piece of your heart eventually… but you do it anyway because the payoff in the interim is the greatest thing in this world.

So soak in the moments, grays and all.

This is a guest post by Lindsay Detwiler. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email [email protected]

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