I miss my dog.
I could go on for pages, but if you’ve ever lost a dog you’ve loved, you know what the grief feels like. So I’ll say only this.
I miss my dog. He was a good dog, and he loved me fiercely until the end. He came to us in graduate school, soon after we were married, after months and years of walking dogs at the humane society, hoping to meet our new friend. He was six months old, wiggly and shaking in his cage, suffering (we would discover) from a severe separation anxiety that caused him to howl and destroy whenever we so much as went to the mailbox. But we loved him. We kept him. We trained him. We brought him with us to the graduate school so he wouldn’t have to be alone during the day. He lived under our desks, cuddled securely, as long as he was with us. We worked it out. We found the help he needed, and he was a good dog.
He loved everyone, after a while. He was loyal to his family, remembered his friends, and was always, always gentle with the children. He moved with us from the Midwest to Washington, D.C., tried the dog parks of the new city, and promptly decided he’d rather have the couch. He was beta dog to my alpha cocker/brittany spaniel mix, but gladly gave up his #2 spot to the series of foster beagles that came soon after, as we helped dog after dog after dog (35 in all!) find their place in the world and find a new home. He would nudge the newcomers to the food bowl, lead them to the door and wait for them to bound outside, spar with the big dogs, and snuggle with the old and tired mama dogs. He was our Kepler, our companion, our foot-of-the-bedwarmer.
When the babies came, he gave up his spot again, curious and protective of my first child, following him where ever he went: tall and gangly, slightly goofy, always present, never aggressive. He kept me company during seven months of pregnancy bedrest, and he let my second child pet him, carefully, gingerly, now and then. He snuggled me when I was sick from the chemo and never left my side while I recovered. He kept the couches warm. He was a good dog. An old dog. And one that I will never forget.
Rest in peace, Kepler. 15 March 1999 – 28 May 2009