It’s been one week since you quietly and peacefully slipped away to the Rainbow Bridge. I just wanted you to know I miss you a lot. You were a very special friend, and this is my way of remembering you.
I remember looking at photos of dogs needing homes nearly 12 years ago now. Something about you caught my eye. You were ten months old but still didn’t have a name. The photo was simply titled ‘Gorgeous Lil Girl’. And you were. Every day for two weeks I checked to see if someone had given you the special home you deserved. After two weeks I knew I had to bring you home to ours. I think that’s what you were waiting for me to do.
The first time we met you were a whirlwind of excitement and energy! It was obvious you loved people and that never changed. Everyone was enthusiastically greeted with a wag of your tail and a smile on your face. Even on the morning you passed away, you so bravely tried to get up to say hello to the vet when he arrived. You really were the world’s worst guard dog!
I remember bringing you home; desperately hoping Toddy was going to accept you as part of our pack. Toddy was never much of a dog’s dog. At the dog park he would prefer to wander amongst the humans looking for a pat ... and probably food! But he took to you from the moment you bounced through the door. And even though you were still a puppy, he let you be pack leader right from the start (as all smart men do!).
But I also remember patting your head and feeling the bumps and scars that told the story of a different life. One you hid so well behind your happy-go-lucky nature. There were times though when I’d see a glimpse of it. I remember the first time we went to the park and I picked up a stick for you to chase. There was a sudden look of fear in your eyes as you dropped to the ground and started whimpering. That moment broke my heart.
I remember it took me ages to teach you how to walk nicely on the lead. And I’d come home from work each day to find the inside of the couches strewn everywhere. I’d put them back together, and the next day you’d pull them apart again. And let’s not forget the golf bunkers you used to dig in the backyard, the burst beanbag incident (twice!) and the nights when I would wake up to find you slinking your way under the blankets to the bottom of the bed.
I remember how brave you and Toddy were during the earthquake. It must have been so scary for you to have been inside the house as it fell down around you. And then to wonder whether we were coming to rescue you, as aftershock after aftershock hit. That was the first time you taught me I could do hard things.
And as I went through the worst couple of years of my life I remember you and Toddy climbing up on the couch each night, and placing your heads in my lap. It was your way of reminding me that I hadn’t lost everything, and things would get better as long as we stuck together. And they did.
I remember the first time the boy came to visit us, all the way from Australia. How he woke me at 5.30 in the morning to say he was taking you and Toddy for a walk, and I should go back to sleep. I remember you tilted your head to the side and gave me a look that said, ‘I think this one’s a keeper’!
I remember how you thought all your Christmases had come at once when we went to live on 14 acres with the one that was a keeper. It made me so happy to see you and Toddy become country dogs, although you weren’t so impressed about having to sleep outside! You used to love chasing behind the motorbike, swimming in the dam and being able to walk down the road off the lead. Although I also remember the time you decided to take on a 4WD, which probably wasn’t your smartest move. But you have always been the bravest and toughest dog I’ve known, and while you came off second best you were up hobbling around the next day as if it was no big deal.
I remember how you took to being pack leader to Diesel, Kaos & McCaw like a duck to water. Despite the fact they all quickly grew bigger than you, you never hesitated to put them in their place if needed. There was the odd scuffle, but you never backed down and you made it known who was boss! And I also remember how you pretended to only tolerate McCaw, but then I would find you sharing the same bed or playing together in the yard. I know he misses you. And I’m sure you miss him too.
I remember the day Toddy suddenly passed away. You kept jumping into the car, wanting to come to the vets with us. I nearly let you, but I’m glad I didn’t. We didn’t make it to the vets and I wouldn’t have wanted you to lose your best mate that way. Again it was a reminder that I can do hard things.
I remember when you, Kaos and I drove the five day trip from Queensland to Tasmania. You must have wondered where on earth we were going, but you could see Dad and your brothers ahead of us, so you knew everything was ok. I remember getting back into the car after a quick stop to find you and Kaos innocently looking out the window with an empty sandwich packet perfectly placed half way between you. I could only laugh as you both adamantly refused to look at me as I questioned which of you had snuck into the front seat to retrieve it out of my bag. I’m guessing it was a joint effort.
Then I remember the day you suddenly stopped wanting to go for a walk, even if it was a short one.
I remember how everything started to became more of an effort and you got tired easily.
And I remember how quickly you began to look like an old dog.
But you still wagged your tail whenever we came home. You still loved going for a ride in the ute. And you would still appear around the corner whenever the fridge door opened.
While the last year was hard for both of us, we still made a lot of good memories together and those are the ones I’m choosing to remember.
And while we all knew the day was coming where we would have to say goodbye, none of us knew it was to be last Friday. And I’m sorry you had to go through what you did. It’s something that will take me time to not feel guilty about. But I also know that if you were here you would tell me not to be silly. That it wasn’t my fault, and you wouldn’t have changed anything because it meant you got to enjoy every day for as long as you did with me.
So thank you for being incredibly brave while we waited for the vet to arrive. It helped me be brave too.
And thank you for that last look you gave me as I held you while you drifted off to sleep. Only you and I will know what that look meant. And I will remember it forever.
And lastly what I remember is you looking young again as the pain left your body. You looked like the Meg you were before you got sick. And that made me happy. I knew you were finally swimming free.
And as I stood outside after you had gone McCaw came over, sat on my feet and looked up at me as if to say, ‘I’ve got this now’. He knew that’s what you would have wanted.
Gorgeous lil girl, you are home with us again where you belong. I’ve placed you beside Toddy, on my desk where the afternoon sun shines in. You loved the sun. If I wasn’t sure where you were I’d just follow the sun. And if I need to find you now, I will still just follow the sun.
You and Toddy will be my constant reminders that I can do hard things. Not just hard things but brave things too. Thank you both for teaching me that, and being by my side every step of the way.
Until I see you both at the Rainbow Bridge take care of each other. As I know you will still be taking care of me.
As your Dad says, miss you long time.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and visor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together …