Oh Dunie, my dearest one. It’s been two months, yet here I am, sobbing at the computer late at night. Writing a letter to my dog. And it still hurts almost too much to bear. This afternoon I heard you growling at a loud noise. A few weeks ago I heard you barking. A few days ago I saw you sitting beside me out of the corner of my eye. After thirteen years of constant companionship, I cannot wipe you from my life. I cannot let you go. I hate hate hate that you left me in the middle of the night at the vet’s office. I hate that I was not able to hold you as your spirit flew away. I know that there was nothing that I could do, but I will regret that for the remainder of my life. You were only thirteen. I was supposed to keep you longer. I still have more love to give to you. But we have no more time.
I have so many many wonderful memories, but it is so hard to write them down. To write about my memories is to admit that you are gone, that now you are in my mind rather than in my life. And even if I write them down, they are just empty reminders of the wonder that was you.
Yet to forget the memories is to forget you, and that I could never do. So I will cry, and I will write, and someday I will perhaps begin to heal.
Do you remember when you first saw me? I remember. I drove to Greenville, NC to buy your sister. I had never heard of a fluffy corgi. You rounded the corner of the house and skidded to a stop right in front of me. You looked right into my soul and stole my heart. I remember driving home with you on my lap, sound asleep. You smelled so badly that I gave you a bath and a blow dry first thing, and you fell asleep while I dried your hair. You were so tiny, so trusting. Remember your first bed? Yeah, I know now that a crate is the way to go, but in college the bathtub seemed like a good idea! You enjoyed your "bed." Until that first weekend when I had to go out of town. The petsitter said that you jumped out of the bathtub and chewed through the kiddie gate the very first night. Did you miss me? I had to assume so, although you were a bit mad, judging by the amount of carpet and wallpaper that was missing from its usual place when I returned. You slept by my bed each night from that night on. Or in my bed, depending on your mood.
Do you remember your childhood? Sitting on my cats and sucking their ears? They were not too happy at first, but then they taught you to fit in. I remember seeing Perry walk in the room, then Sprite creeping in, wiggling her rear as she stalked him. And who came next? My tiny puppy, imitating the cat crouch, rear in the air, wiggling for all she was worth! You even learned to do figure eights around my legs when I came home! Do you remember your puppy playgroup at the apartments? You were queen of the playground even then.
Do you remember when you were too rough with Baroque and he stuck his claws in your tongue? You held his paw in your teeth and he held your tongue in his claws for quite some time. Then you both carefully withdrew. You were such good friends after that. Remember when Roquie would nudge you and fall down? Then you would "flea bite" up and down his body while he purred. Do you remember how sad you were when Roque left us? I hope you are with him now.
Do you remember when you were spayed? I was so worried about you. Then we drove to Ohio two days later and you whipped up on my aunt’s dogs when someone threw down a pizza crust. They grabbed you. You got the pizza. And thankfully you were fine.
Do you remember when that big dog rolled you down a hill and into a tree? You twisted your leg and cried out. It scared me so much. And you knew it, didn’t you you silly thing! Do you remember how I cried, how I carried you up and down those stairs when the vet said it might be permanent nerve damage? Do you remember how I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or shake you when we found out (weeks later) that it was all an elaborate act? You were so smart even then. I remember how you used to run along the room with your head on the floor, until one day you ulcerated your cornea. You winked every time we went to the vets for years afterwards. You sure had a long memory!
Do you remember when you learned that birds were food? Not many dogs get that chance. I ran over to the farmer’s market to buy some squash. I left the window open – five minutes later I came back to see feathers fluttering about in the car, and you licking your chops in the backseat. It was months until you stopped leaping after birds when we went on walks!
Do you remember when we took photos for my wedding? You were such a star - you even got a full page story featuring ... you! You were so beautiful – like a little angel. Not like the night before the wedding when you stood under the pig cooker and licked the ground while grease dripped between your ears! I still have that picture of you from that night. We took it to Bermuda on our honeymoon and kept it in the window above our bed. Do you know that our only phone call from Bermuda was to check on you?
Do you remember the tornado when we came home? You started running around like mad, barking and screaming. Then you hid under the toilet! I was in with you, trying to coax you out, when I heard a loud roar. I peeked out and the roof was gone next door! Of course, you were terrified of rainstorms after that.
Do you remember hopping up in bed each morning with Chris and me? You’d hop up between us and smile. Then someone would yawn, and before you knew it we were all three yawning and stretching and waking up. You’d bark and howl in dismay when Chris had to go to work. Then you’d sit under my legs and bump me occasionally while I wrote my master’s thesis.
Do you remember eating the fireballs, or the carnations, or the 30 Tums, or the value pack of apricots, or the 1 pound bag of chocolate covered expresso beans? You woke us up after raiding the Christmas presents for that last one – we thought you would never calm down! At least the Tums that you "borrowed" from Mom’s purse cured your tummy problem after you ate the rotten beef. We were pretty relieved that the Tums would just constipate you (after a hasty call to poison control). Speaking of which, do you remember eating that mouse full of decon? We spent the evening racing around to find vitamin K for you – thankfully you were just fine. Apparently your insides were tough. We also had to make a quick call to the vets when I dropped my prenatal vitamins – what were you thinking? Surely they didn’t taste good! But you managed to get about 10 down before I caught you. I’m certain that I heard laughter in the background when I was talking to the vet. No wonder you once won the "most hooverin’ corgi award!"
Do you remember eating that peach pit? We almost lost you there – I remember waking constantly to find Chris’s hand on you too – we kept feeling to make sure you were still alive. The vet said you probably wouldn’t make it through surgery. They gave you a pre-surgery enema and out popped the peach pit! Took you weeks to recover… I would’ve thought you’d have learned, but two years after that you ate another one – you lost 4 inches of intestine. Five months later you ate a rock that had peanut butter on it. We took matters into our own hands and introduced you to a basket muzzle. You didn’t like it, but you got used to it. I still remember seeing you in the garden, narfing my strawberries by mashing them through the muzzle. You silly girl. You wore that muzzle every time you went out for years. I wish you had it on still. I wonder where you picked up that last rock that finally beat you.
Do you remember chasing seagulls on the beach? And kites – you were convinced that kites were evil incarnate. Right next to balls and balloons. And squeaky toys. Boy did you love playing tug o’ war. Remember when I’d put your tug toy between us and try to psyche you out? I’d pretend to grab it, you’d lunge but then stop when you saw that I hadn’t grabbed it. You were so good at that game – you always knew when I was really going to grab it and off we’d go! You were so good at hide and go seek too – I loved hiding and watching you "seek" – you were such a serious player!
Remember what a ham you were in obedience class? You always pretended to ignore my training at home, but when you got into the class you’d wow everyone. You won first place in all of the little shows, and you usually got the "most enthusiastic" award to boot. I still remember listening to you bark your way through the tunnel in agility – you loved that so much! I don’t think you ever ran through the tunnel without yelling your head off – did it echo in there or something? You just loved to show off – head up high, prancing around – I wish I had been brave enough to show you in the big dog shows in obedience. I really think you could have been an amazing competition dog. I think you were pretty happy just showing off for our guests though. You were so good at tossing food off your nose and catching it! "Shooting" you always took about 15 "bang bangs" to actually get you flat on the ground though – you were so alpha – you just didn’t like rolling over.
We worked very hard on those alpha exercises. On your first day of puppy class you had the whole pack running behind you during the "social" time. I remember the instructor turned to me and said, "It’s very good that you are in this class – I’ve never seen such an alpha puppy!" I think I was the only one you ever truly accepted as alpha. I remember how mad Chris got at you when he gave you commands – you would look at me and wait for me to nod before you would do what he said. And boy would you talk back and grumble when you had to obey someone besides me! You were so wonderful with my kids though – once I held them and crawled around growling for a while to convince you that they were mine! You never even growled at them, not even when they fell on top of you.
And you knew kids were coming even before the pregnancy tests were positive. Do you remember? You would poke at my tummy and whine. Then when they got big enough to feel, you’d lie with your head on my tummy. When they kicked you, your eyes got so big. You’d press your head down hard on my stomach with wonder in your eyes.
Do you remember walking with me at night during the hard colic months? You got up EVERY time that I got up. Remember when Papa Paul asked us what was wrong with you? You were so exhausted that your head kept dropping down as you sat in the living room. You started limping from stress arthritis. I’m so glad we found some supplements that cured you. Remember when we started you on them a few months before Eloise came? We made sure you got plenty of rest that time around. Until two months ago, you were right outside the door every single time I came out from my daughter’s room for nursing or to say goodnight. It is so empty in the hallway now. No one is waiting for me.
Do you remember before children when we moved to our new house? The cats lived on the porch, and you were so lonely. You let us know something was wrong in no uncertain terms – first you somehow reduced a coke can to tiny dime sized pieces and strewed them throughout the house (I don’t know how we escaped a vet visit). Then the next night you dragged a cereal box in front of the Christmas tree, chewed it into tiny bits, and peed on the pile. We got a doggie friend for you two weeks later. You and Bart played so much (after you showed him that you were the absolute ruler). No more behavior problems!
Do you remember the snakeskin? You had never seen a snake to my knowledge, yet you knew what it was. You wouldn’t let me off the deck. Every time I tried to step down you growled and nipped at my ankles. I was pretty mad until I realized that you were trying to keep me away from the "snake!" What a brave girl!
Do you remember being spokesmodel for the Breakaway Collars? Our vet was so surprised – they ordered the collars, opened the brochure, and there you were with Bart! Of course she recognized you right away, what with all your visits for tummy issues and your dislocated elbow. Who would’ve thought you could dislocate your elbow while chasing Bart through wet grass?
Do you remember how upset you would get when we went on vacation? As soon as you saw bags you would get so depressed. You’d mope in corners or refuse to leave my ankles. We took you most places – remember all the times we went camping and hiking? You were my little sleeping bag heater in the winters. Remember that one hike we took after the ice storm? You loved the water so much that you jumped right into the freezing stream. Then you got huge snowballs under your legs. We had to stop walking so many times to bang the snowballs off so that you could walk!
Do you remember when we put down hardwoods and you couldn’t walk on them? We put shelfliners on your feet to give you traction! Then we shaved your feet each week so the fur wouldn’t make you slip. The first thing you did in the new kitchen was to turn over the trashcan!
Do you remember swimming in our stream? You’d jump in any chance you got – you loved it even though your rear floated so high that you had to pump frantically with your front paws to keep your head up. You seemed to really love your lifejacket – it made your front a bit more buoyant! Do you remember all the rides on the catamaran and the sailboat? It always amazed us that you could sit up and beg for food even in heavy winds. Peanut butter is a very motivating factor!
Do you remember your last week? You were so sick. I had to keep you in the bathroom or on a leash. I put you on the deck one day, and you were so content. You lay in the corner with your chin on the board and gazed out over the yard all day. Did you know that was the last time you would see it? Did you feel pain when I brought you in every twelve hours for fluids? Did you hurt when they couldn’t stabilize you after surgery? Did you know that you were all alone at the vet’s that night? Did you give up because I was not there? Oh baby, I hope not. I pray not. Did you wonder why I did not come? My heart hurts. There is an empty spot inside that will never go away. I hope that the pain will ease someday. I know it will never heal. In losing you, I have lost part of myself. But without you, I would never have been who I am today. It is worth the pain. I just wish I could have eased yours my darling, my Brigadune.
Oh please God please let there be a heaven, and please please let my baby be waiting there for me.