To: My aging, ailing Poodums.
I’ve written at least two or three other letters to you over the course of your life. It seems a foolish thing to do since you’re a dog, but I suppose I justify my actions with love. In a way, I guess you could call these love letters. I know you’re incapable of reading these, but honestly, this exercise isn’t for you; its for me. Like funerals are for the living, not the dead. Some things you just have to do.
I’m watching you sleep on the living room floor while I write this. You’re lying on the little brown pillow that matches my comforter, with your back against your dog bed (the one you’ve always used as a pillow instead of a bed). In your old age you sleep more soundly now than you ever used to. That’s because you’re going deaf. I could play Shawn Mendes at top volume, and you’d only know it because of the vibrations shaking the floor.
Gone are the days when getting up from the couch would warrant you popping up from a light doze to follow me into another room of the house. These days I can traverse the whole house without you ever knowing, provided I do it after you’ve closed your eyes.
Speaking of eyes, I’ve laughed at you time and again when you can’t find food I throw to you on the floor, because you’re going blind. I only laugh because watching you age breaks my heart. At 14 years old, you’ve seen and done a lot more than I ever expected. In all honesty, I expected you to have been run over by a car long before now. You’re a tougher pup than I ever took you for. You’ve proved me wrong in a lot of ways. I’m grateful for that. You proved to our family what unconditional love was, not because you loved us unconditionally, but because we loved you unconditionally. For me, more than I can say for anyone else, you taught me to care about those living creatures who cannot wholly fend for themselves.
By no means has our relationship been without issue, but the problems came on my part. You’re just a dog, after all. Your purpose is to teach me to not only love unconditionally, but to have patience in all situations; to be kind and compassionate to everyone I cross paths with.
I love you for the ways in which you’ve changed me for the better. For crying out loud! I’m tearing up while writing a letter for my dog! That’s partially due to the fact that I’m a sensitive little snowflake, but mostly the incredibly profound way in which you’ve affected my life. It seems amazing to me how true those words are.
As a child, I wanted a dog for many years. I was always told a dog is a large responsibility, and that’s why for so many years we didn’t get one. There’s nothing untrue or unjust about that logic. You’re a large responsibility, and now that you’re in your twilight years that responsibility has grown exponentially. Yet, I regret none of it. Perhaps this is how some parents feel about their children. I don’t know. I only have my fur baby, and I intend to keep him until he closes his eyes for the last time.
The logical/rational part of my brain screams that it’s stupid to feel this way about a four-legged animal, but my emotions have always defied logic. I love you, Buster, forever and always.
Originally written 2/21/17