Shadow

Dearest Shadow,

I wish I could have been there today. I know you must have been scared as mom and dad’s tear-streamed faces led you to a room at the vet’s office you’d never been to before. I know you must have been confused when the weight of sleep came upon you in a different way than you’ve ever experienced. I wish I could have placed my hand on your head one last time as I whispered a choked goodbye in your ear.

I remember the day we got you. We went to the SPCA, even though mom and dad insisted we weren’t going to get a dog. We had just moved to Houston 6 months earlier, and they weren’t sure we were ready to have a dog. But there you were. In the midst of all the chaos and the barking that made me press my hands over my ears, you were there. Just sitting, looking, hoping we would come by. We led you to the meet-and-greet room where you sniffed us, licked our hands and faces, and then went to sleep. At that moment, you had our hearts. I remember the empty promises I made to always pick up your poop in the backyard and feed you and bathe you – promises I rarely fulfilled until I realized my time to fulfill them was running out quickly.

I remember having tea parties with you and all of my stuffed animals; we sat around my baby blanket, and I poured treats onto your hand-painted plate. I remember you climbed on the table on the porch to eat my peanut butter crackers when I went back inside to get something I had left behind. I remember you ate entire batches of peanut butter chocolate truffles, chocolate chip cookies, and Christmas cookies, made from scratch and hand-decorated. We were never mad at you. You never got sick. We were actually pretty impressed that you were so sneaky.

I remember taking you to Sonic with me one day. I got an ice cream cone, and I looked away for a second, only to turn back and see you licking it. That was a good day. Do you remember the day we gave you a banana popsicle? You loved that. I remember all the times I would say silly words to get your attention, using the sounds and inflections I knew you would listen to. I remember laying by your side on the floor and falling asleep as we watched TV late at night. I remember coming home and seeing you on the other side of the glass door, just waiting, expecting me to come back from school at the same time I always did. Always excited to see me.

I remember being so excited to set up the Christmas tree every year because you would always lay your head underneath the tree, cuddled up with the presents. You would lie on your bed and gaze at all of the gifts underneath the tree, and I always wondered if you knew that one of them was for you.

Shadow, I love you so much. You will always be my first dog. The last 13 years have been incredible, and I am so happy I got to love you for so long. I will miss you so much. I will hate coming home to an empty house. I will hate not seeing your bed sitting in front of the fireplace where it’s been for so long. I will try not to cry when I look through old pictures, but I’m not making any promises. I hope someone up there realizes how cute you are and gives you all of the bananas, apples, and spoonfuls of peanut butter they can.

You were the best dog I could have ever hoped for.

Rest well, Shadow.

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