Life is short. Change happens. And sometimes everything goes to hell.
Before I knew it you were gone. I wasn’t ready. I miss you. I see your photo and would give anything to hug you again; to bury my face in your soft fur again. My heart will always hurt for you. Acceptance, I tell myself, impermanence; I can’t change what happened and yet everything must change. Well, acceptance and impermanence suck. We didn’t get nearly enough time together.
I will make you proud. I will let my pain be my motivator and I will do more. Be more. Give more. You showed me my path and I will follow it. What happens in shelters every day isn’t fair, or loving, or kind but it happens every day. Sweet old souls dumped like garbage when sometimes their only crime is growing old. It breaks my heart to think of them; sad, confused, afraid. I can’t turn my back. I have to do something.
I will be me, and not that person they think I should be. I will do what I know I am supposed to do. I won’t fool myself into thinking I can save them all or thinking that it won’t be painful. I know some will try to keep me from doing this simply because they know I will get hurt. I won’t listen.
I will be weird. Be funny, or artsy, or the crazy dog lady, or whatever. I will continue to create with my camera, my pen, and my keyboard so that I can live this life well and be there for the dogs that will need me. I will be brave and share your story, and Bella’s, and Sasha’s, and Bruno’s and how each of you came into my world.
I will be kind. Be a hippie, a caregiver, a Buddhist wanna-be. Be the one who loves the seniors when no one else will. Be the one that spoils them rotten and makes their last moments on earth absolutely wonderful. You taught me that I can make a difference and I will.
I will feel my feelings, dream my dreams, and accept my fears; real and raw and bold. Meaning and substance—that’s what matters. Some will scoff at my plans. Others will doubt. And most likely there will be those who will give “helpful” advice. That’s okay.
I will do no harm but take no shit. Life is beautiful, and colorful and messy. I will live it and love it–I promise. My work is what I do, I was born to create, but you and all my other dogs are my ‘why’.
I will fail, and learn, and grow—then repeat. And while my heart may break with every parting I will show my courage within my sadness. My strength. My pain. My purpose. My ‘me’.
Thank you, Mr. Bear, for showing me the way. Momma loves you so.
Note: This is a letter to my dog Mr. Bear. He came into my life during a very difficult time and saved me. If it weren’t for him I’m not sure I’d be here today. We only had 17 months together before he died suddenly on July 16, 2015. It was very unexpected and it shattered my world but it also showed me how amazing it can be to adopt an older dog. In the short time we had, we developed a very special bond and I realized that continuing to love older dogs is something I am supposed to do. I’m not planning anything grandiose like starting a rescue. I believe that I can make more of a difference by working with an organization and taking in their senior cases.
PS – please consider adopting your next pet and supporting any of the many organizations that work to reduce the number of animals killed in shelters.