During my lifetime I’ve had a few pets. Dogs, cats, even rats. Usually, I’d keep them for awhile, but would eventually have to get give them away because of some circumstance like housing, space, or behavior. Each of these were merely “pets”. While having to see them go hurt, it never emotionally hurt to my core, until yesterday.
In 1998 we were living in Bellevue, Nebraska. I was still in the Air Force, trying desperately to get out early to go to school full time. We had moved off-base with the anticipation of being civilian again. Trevor was 4 ½ years old. A year or so earlier we had gotten rid of our latest basset hound Dottie, which like our other dogs, she just have issues that we could no longer work with.
Jennifer’s birthday was approaching and she wanted another dog, so I told her to start looking. Within a week she found a breeder in Iowa that had Lhasa Apso and poodle mixed puppies. We new nothing of the coming “hybrid movement”, so it sounded like a small mutt to us. It was a small and cheap (only $75); perfect.
Jennifer, Trevor and grandma all drove down to Iowa to look at the puppies. They were filthy, matted and stunk, but one little black one liked Trevor. So they bought him. (Now, looking back I wish we’d had bought them all.)
After tossing around names, we settled on Farley, after Chris Farley (Tommy Boy) who had just died. But I kept calling him fuzzy instead, because he looked like the fuzzy-side of Velcro. I don’t think it took more than 48 hours for his name to be replaced with Fuzzy.
We never housebroke him, trained him, or punished him…he just knew what he had to do and he did it. He knew that I didn’t like to be licked, so he would give me (and only me) Eskimo kisses with no licking. He knew the yard boundaries at EVERY single house we live in (6), without us showing him. He would play when someone wanted to play and he would cuddle when someone wanted to cuddle. He knew his bedtime. He knew when grandma drove up. He knew when someone wasn’t a dog person. He was a puppy until the day he passed. He loved unconditionally.
Every now and then we would rip up a pile of toilet paper, but nothing else. I think he did it as a test, just to see if we WOULD get mad at him.
A couple years ago, we had emotionally started preparing for yesterday. He was getting old and grey and not jumping quite so high. He would occasionally have bad days, were he would tell us with his eyes that he just wanted to rest and relax, but most days he was that same puppy we got in 1998.
Good Luck Charm
There is a little part of me that now fears the future. I’ve kind of considered Fuzzy our good luck charm. From the day we go him, our lives have improved continuously, emotionally and financially. In 1998 I was an E-4 in the Air Force on the brink of being unemployed and full-time/in-debt college student. We lived in a 700sf house, had substantial debt and no savings. Today at Fuzzy’s death, we live in a 3000+sf house, debt-free (except for house), and honestly do not worry about money any more.
Fuzzy was there for it all…
- Our decision to have a second child
- Me struggling through college
- Keeping me company during our month-long separation and cross-country drive to Florida
- Sitting and kissing his new baby brother Brandon
- Sneaking peaks as his (and only his) presents under the tree every Christmas
- Being the social butterfly at every wedding rehearsal dinner
- Sitting in everyone’s lap at family get-togethers
- Visiting and play with the kids at every cookout
- Sitting with everyone who had surgery
- Riding along during every hurricane evacuation
- Seeing Trevor grow into an kind adult
- Watching Brandon grow from his size to the handsome young man he is
- Being our rock….
Anyone who has dog-sat Fuzzy will probably tell you, they favorite time (like mine) was bedtime with Fuzzy. He had “expectations” of what was to occur every night. First of which was a full face rub and ear scratch. He would immediately climb onto my chest and look me straight in the eyes, then back and forth between my hands. As if he was saying, “ok, use those things up here”. Afterward he would walk over to Jennifer’s side of the bed to give her kisses and wait for his medicine. After a minute he would be done and either go to the end of the bed to dig a hole or “expect” one of us to put him down so he could go to his bed.
If things didn’t occur in this order, he would not be comfortable; and apparently neither would I….
Last night, I dreaded going to bed. Fuzzy has become so integral to actually going to bed, I could hardly bring myself to actually doing it. When I finally laid down, I just felt complete dread. All I could picture was his eyes and him “digging” his whole in his bed. Every sound I heard was him….I couldn’t do it.
Eventually, (after Nyquil, earplugs, and laying on the couch) I finally made it to bed. I’m not looking forward to doing it again tonight.
What I’ll Miss Most
- Being greeted at the door by him and having to give him scratch and kisses before I left my office
- Seeing his ears perk when he heard the word “toy” or “outside”
- Napping with him in my arms
- Seeing him lay with the boys on movie nights
- His single motion “wakeup-jump of couch-walk to door” when he heard the click of the TV turning off at night
- Seeing him bring his food to another room to eat with us
- His jealously of Brandon (still after 11 years)
- Seeing him lay on the couch, looking out the window, waiting for Jennifer to come home
- Playing hide-and-seek with him
- Seeing everyone love him
- Going to bed
I know that everyone says this about their pet, but Fuzzy was truly special; and not just to us. He touched everyone that he interacted with. Friends and family that are not “dog people” would always make an exception for him. Some went to far as to say he was not even a dog, but a little furry person. He was so intelligent, it was freaky sometimes. He could understand what we were saying and could read our expressions and faces.
During my adolescence, I basically had emersion training in grief. My father died when I was 16 and within 8 years, everyone in my family, elder to my generation, followed. But the death of my father was what I took the hardest. I had never endured that much grief before then, or after…until yesterday. He stared straight into my eyes through to my heart as he passed, never looking away or blinking as if he was saying goodbye.
Yesterday one of my greatest fears came to fruition; I lost a child.