I’ve written this letter before. It was one of those days (out of many) you’d gone missing and I couldn’t find you. I was convinced you were never coming back. But as always, you did. Three days later and covered in mud.
I always thought that when you left me it would be one of two ways: 1. You’d go and never come back or 2. Peacefully in your sleep. It hurts me so much that you didn’t. That in your last moments you couldn’t do what you loved: wander the neighborhood.
Instead, you spent your final afternoon quietly whimpering and lying on a bed of towels. It was the exact way you’d spent your first night here. It’s poetic in a way. Especially since your name, I’d been told, was given to you because of how much you cried as a new puppy.
You didn’t cry much shortly after that. In fact, you rarely made a sound. Rarely barked. Just wagged your tail when you were happy. Or quietly walked away when you were bored and wanted to do whatever the hell you wanted to do.
I remember how pissed dad was when I had, without his permission, obscured a puppy for my fifteenth birthday*. He demanded that I return you but in the end, you became his pal. I’d sometimes catch you sitting by him outside, doing whatever. He’d been responsible for your rapid weight gain. He’d been the one to tell me how much pain you were in that night you started crying.
12 years is a long time. I remember all the nights I would sneak you in to sleep on my floor. The mornings you would try to follow me on my runs (and end up giving up halfway through a mile and I would have to run you back home). The times I would sit outside with you sitting between my legs as I watched the evening sky. The way you’d wait at the gate for me to come home from school. I wonder, now, if it was enough. Did you feel loved, Booboo? Did you know I cared about you you even as you cried yourself to your final sleep? Did you know about all the nights I worried about you when you didn’t come home? The days I was convinced you were going to go? Was I enough?
Should I have taken you out more? To the beach? To the park? Should I have given you more treats? Baked you a doggie cake on your birthday? Brought you into the house more? Pushed harder to move out so I could take you with me? Were you happy? Were you happy in your lackadaisical life to rest under the trees and roam the neighborhood? To hang out with me when I wasn’t too stressed to be outside of my house? To see my friends whenever they came by? To see your friends whenever they came by?
I don’t know if I’ll ever reconcile these feelings I have. I wish it had been different. Those last days. But I guess you never took things so seriously. Maybe if I told you these feelings, you’d look at me, sigh and lay your head against my thigh. Or go to sleep. Maybe you’re watching me now, wondering why I’ve gotten so upset. I know it’s better now. I know you’re probably wandering some new neighborhood, some new streets.
“Hi my name is Booboo. I like to wander but if I look lost, here’s my mom’s number.”
That’s what I had on your tag. Which, by the way, you lost.
I guess that’s enough for me. Knowing that you’re probably doing what you so desperately craved in your final moments – to go off on adventures. To not be limited by your aging body. I hope you’re making new best friends.
I think Ina misses you. She used to cry when she couldn’t see you. You brought her here and promptly disappeared for almost a week. I thought you had brought your replacement. As always, you came back but maybe you knew it was coming. Maybe you knew we all needed time together. She’s so different from you. Pretty much your opposite. Dumb as a rock most of the time. Noisy. Lots of energy.
You always knew what I was asking of you; you never peed anywhere but properly cut grass, always sat when I told you to without training. You never spent more energy than you wanted to – usually done after two rounds of fetch as a puppy. You rarely made a sound, usually sneaking up on me. You always listened, at least until you were too old to bother with my requests.
BooBoo, you were probably the best dog that could have ended up at our home.
You were too posh to be called the goodest boy. You were the best boy. No contention.
* I, as an adult, do not agree with the way I went about getting a puppy. Kids, don’t do this. It probably won’t go over as well.