Goodbye Charlie, You Will Always Be My First Puppy Love
Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is one of the hardest things in life to do. The more you love the pet the closer you become, and the closer you become the more difficult it is to say goodbye. The two of you have had such a great life together. You have so many warm memories and so many photographs, you will never forget him. You will always have a small lump in your throat when thinking or speaking about him. And he will always be in your heart.
It was such a delight to bring home this cute little puppy that bounced all over me and eagerly licked my face, while trying to get all of my attention. The baby barks and curious little whines endeared him to me and helped me decide on his name. It can be hilarious deciding on a name for a tiny pup but when you know he will grow from this adorable little ball of energy to a handsome, mature, well-loved dog, it might be a good idea to use a little thought. Fido is way too common and Charlemagne is far too ridiculous. So I decided on "Charlie". It is still quite common but I have always loved my great uncle Charles and would like to remember him through this wonderful little guy: my new dog, Charlie.
Life with Charlie began with the usual negotiations of what Charlie could and could not play with, that outside was where he was to do his business, and how quiet he was to be if he was allowed to sleep on my bed. (I should make it clear right now: this is not a “How To Train Your New Dog” Manual. I bow to the expertise of others for that information and motivation.) To help my Charlie go to sleep at night I had to give him a soda bottle with warm water in it, wrapped with a towel. It was like a hot water bottle but firmer and it reminded him of his mother enough so he would sleep contentedly for most of the night.
As Charlie grew and his body started to match his big paws, he became a handsome looking dog. Charlie was a beagle and had fabulous dark chocolate brown and golden patches on white fur. His paws were white and he had a white-tipped tail, usually wagging so fast you could not see the white except as a blur! He developed some interesting personality characteristics that drew us very close to each other.
After our initial greetings when I came through the door, having been away long enough to do some chores and get groceries, he would hide. I knew where he was but he thought he was hiding. After about 10 minutes he would come out of hiding and quietly enter the room where I was reading or watching television. He would peer his head around the corner of my couch and bark (more a quiet ‘yip’.) Then with tail wagging to beat the band, he would jump up on his seat (my footstool) close to me and wait to be petted. I don't know how or from where he acquired this little feat of entertainment, but each time he performed it, it made my heart leap with happiness. Every time I knew it was coming but it still "broke my heart" with joy.
Charlie and I had wonderful times together and they were all special to me. Time flew by and life continued with a number of very pleasant surprises for me. I married a wonderful man who also loved Charlie. We all moved in to his large and comfortable home on five acres in the suburbs. Charlie loved to roam the acreage and would frequently bring home special treats for my husband and me. On special occasions such as Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and St Patrick’s Day, we would dress Charlie in a simple costume and take pictures. We loved it – he was not so impressed. Charlie still performed his routine of hiding and then finding me, but only when we were alone. He was such a dear and I loved him so.
When Charlie no longer wanted to roam the acreage or even, really, go outside. I knew something was wrong. He had difficulty walking, and jumping up on his favourite stool was obviously agony for him. I took him to his friendly vet and left the examination room for the doctor to look over my little love. When I returned to the examination room Charlie was quietly lying on the padded table looking just fine. But when the doctor spoke it was in quiet tones of empathy and professional wisdom.
My worst fears were realized: it was time for Charlie to go. The doctor told me Charlie was in a great deal of pain. Not at the moment because he had been given a mild painkiller. He told me the problem was cancer in his kidneys that had moved to his blood system. It was inoperable. I wanted to pick up Charlie and run back to our home where he was loved and cared for. That would surely help him recover and regain his puppy energy and life. But I knew that would not work and I would never put Charlie through such a painful experience.
I called my husband and told him the terrible diagnosis. He joined me at the pet hospital to be with me while I made the hardest decision of my life. Charlie barely wagged his tail at seeing him, but wag his tail he did. My husband helped me to make the only loving decision I could make for Charlie by listening to my broken heart and all my stories about Charlie and me before he was in the picture. He helped me by guiding me to the inevitable decision that was mine alone to make.
I said "goodbye" to my sweet Charlie that afternoon, knowing I would never have such a deep affection for another dog in my life. Yes, I have a lump in my throat when thinking or speaking about Charlie. And, yes, Charlie will always be my first and dearest puppy love.
© 2011; Maralexa, Marilyn Alexander, MBA. All rights reserved