I still remember it as if it were yesterday. April handed me a torn out portion of the classifieds and said, “let’s take a drive up to Camilla, GA to go have a look.” Always the cynic, I knew we were destined to come home with a new puppy. You don’t just go “have a look”. And sure enough, a couple hours later, you were in the car with us after having left your last sister, parents, and a relieved family left with one last weimaraner puppy. You were my new dog and you were instantly my best friend. We called you our “parent test.”
I remember reading every pet-training book I could get my hands on, crate training you and waking up every hour on the hour to let you out after the softest of whimpers. Coming home from work every day was as exciting as I could imagine…seeing your enthusiasm for our return and scouring the house to see what destruction you had created. It was always a rambunctious hour of licking and playing. You were always too smart for your own good. You learned every trick fast and craved more. Your energy was boundless.
I’ll never forget bringing Mattox home for the first time and seeing how gentle you were with the newborn baby. I was so proud for so many reasons; particularly because I knew that I could trust you…wholeheartedly. We would never let you become “second fiddle”. April and I always talked about those other dogs that got neglected after parents had kids. I vowed to never let that be the case for you. And you never let me break that promise. You were always my “first born.”
I still remember my fear and sadness and your confusion when I found you suffering from your first seizure. It didn’t matter to me though, you were still perfect. Over time, they became worse and April and I always feared they’d get the best of you. Mostly, I feared that I wouldn’t be there to help you through one. I never did much; only comforted you, told you it was ok, and made sure you didn’t hurt yourself more. But I always knew how important it was to you that I was there.
Although I try not to, I still remember the day I came home to find you’d left us. It remains the saddest day of my life. It’s only been about 7 months, but the pain remains. Every night Mattox and I talk to you and ask that God watch over you. He still misses you too. At least he says he does. Sometimes I think just so he can say your name. April always tells me that you passed so I wouldn’t have to bear the pain of watching you go. She said that you did that as a gift to me. She’s probably right.
It’s hard for me to remember the day I buried you. It was all a blur. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t think, and it was hard to breathe. But every time I visit you now, I remember why we placed you there. You loved it. You loved the freedom, the open air, and the room to run. You’re home now.
I miss you every day. I still cry a few tears every now and then when I think about you. I can admit it. No man should every worry about being less of a man because of tears they shed over a dog they’ve lost. You’d be proud of Duncan though. He’s doing great and has already proven to be just as loving as you were. He hasn’t replaced you, but he sure has helped to fill some of that hole left in my heart.
Yesterday you would have turned 7 years old. April and I talked about you and how much we miss you. The kids are out of town, Duncan is in training, and our house was quiet and empty. There was a cold spot in the bed where you should have been. But there’s a place in my heart where you’ll always remain. You’ll always be my puppy.