I always knew what I wanted out of a relationship.
Well, at least until I met you.
If you asked me three years ago, I would have said I wanted someone who was trendy. Someone smart and funny. Someone young and hip. Someone who could keep up with me and someone who made me look good.
I searched for someone like that, and in a snap decision, I found that someone. At least I thought I did. He fit the mold perfectly. Tall, athletic, smart, beautiful. It didn’t work out. At all. He ended up being aggressive. He was pushy and a little mean to my family. Needless to say we ended our relationship quickly. I was sad about it, but in the long run it was better for the both of us.
After him I waited a while to look for someone else.
Occasionally, I would search the usual websites for a match but no one quite fit the mold. I wondered if I would ever find “the one.”
Interestingly enough, in my search for love I stumbled across a picture of your brother and was drawn to him. To this day I’m not sure why. Granted he was cute, but definitely not my type. Maybe it was the universe sending him to me so I could find you. I don’t know.
Needless to say I decided to schedule a date to meet your brother. I remember waiting for him in the lobby of his home. So nervous. So anxious that it would work it. It didn’t. He was cute for sure, but downright mean. Not my type.
But then you showed up. At first I thought “hell no.”
You were so old. So dirty looking. You were small and hairy. You were obviously not the athlete I wanted. You looked like you lost all hope in a relationship. Maybe I thought I could save you.
We got together on July 28th, 2013.
I posted pictures of you on Facebook. People made snarky comments. People laughed.
I even laughed too. Maybe I was self-conscious because I knew our relationship looked ridiculous. I regret it a little bit now, but hindsight is always 20/20.
As time went on our relationship grew to one I never expected. I never knew someone could love me the way you did. It was obvious. If I moved, you moved with me. When you were upset or angry, it was me who calmed you down. You only listened to me. You only sat by me. You only wanted me.
You developed too. People said you’d never walk with me, but you did. Sometimes when we went out for walks I swore that you would walk to your death if I asked you too. You would have followed me anywhere. I could see it in your eyes as you slowly meandered behind me. You’d keep going just because I was asking you to.
Things changed about a year into our relationship.
I became very preoccupied. I didn’t have time for you like I used to. You weren’t’ my number one priority anymore. You didn’t complain though. You just waited for me. Wanted until I had a few spare minutes to do something with you. To give you attention. You always waited for me. You were so loyal.
As time went on and we both grew older. I noticed you were changing. You were louder than you used to be. You were more demanding. You were getting sick, but I didn’t realize it. I was too busy.
Then it happened. You stopped walking. It happened in the past but your doctor always said it was your bad back. I gave you your medication. You didn’t get better.
We took you to the doctor.
It wasn’t your back this time. You had a stroke.
A stroke. This wasn’t supposed to happen to you. To us. You were strong. You were never going to get sick. You were never going to die. For God’s sake, our friends called you the cockroach.
But you were sick. We tried everything, but you didn’t get better. You couldn’t walk, you couldn’t feed yourself. You needed help going to the bathroom. This wasn’t the life you wanted. I could see it in those eyes of yours. Those eyes that were willing me to rescue you. To do something. So I did.
I took you to the doctor on July 26th. I talked to you for the entire ride down.
I knew our time together was short. I told you how much I loved you and I apologized for not always being there. I promised to never forget you.
As I spoke to you and stroked your delicate body I noticed how tired you looked. How weak. Not yourself.
We got to the doctor. You and I went in first. I asked if there was anything else we could do. The doctor said no. We talked about quality of life. We both agreed you weren’t living the life you wanted. It was time.
Daddy got there a few minutes into the appointment. The vet was getting ready to sedate you. The beginning of the end. As the sedation poured through your veins you began to snore. Just like you did every night. I cried so hard into your long blonde fur. Holding you. Looking into your eyes. Telling you I loved you. Once you were sedated, it happened. The final injection that “put you to sleep.” It was quick. Mere seconds. You were gone.
We stayed with you for a while. Daddy and I. I couldn’t believe it. Your body was there, but you weren’t. My girl. My old lady. My Millie. Gone. Just like that.
We took you home that night. We buried you in the front yard next to the cat. We have a little stone with your name on it. Daddy cut a path to your spot so we can visit it whenever we want.
When you were alive people said you were “useless,” “stupid,” “annoying.” People said you were a waste. If you were a waste why am I devastated?
You didn’t fit the mold of the perfect dog by any means. You were old as dirt when we adopted you. You were stubborn as anything. You hated our cat. But you were sweet and kind and loving. You loved me so much. I could tell. I loved you just the same. I hope you could tell.
Millie the Dog
You were the epitome of the saying “never judge a book by its cover.”
Even though you certainly weren’t Lassie or Old Yeller you were my dog. You were my best friend.
I will miss you for my lifetime and hope our spirits cross paths again.
Meredith Hettler is a Marriage and Family Therapist