After sixteen years, today our family said a forever goodbye to our angel.
Because of the vast difference in our lifespans, saying goodbye to a dog (or dogs) is an unfortunate reality in our lives – but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s easy.
From day one, dogs become vital members of our family.
Members we invite into our homes and our lives, knowing full well that they’ll chew our shoes, piss on our rugs, and have us pick up every single one of their shits by hand –
But every second of it is worth it because we know that in return we’ll receive from them an unconditional love that is unrivalled.
A dog is a gift, every day,
Even when we may not realise it.
A loyal love like no other,
They are the companion we need most of all, with a pure heart we may not always deserve.
And for the price of one walk a day,
A scoop of food,
And plenty of pats,
They bring an immense richness into our lives.
Every dog owner claims that their dog is the best there ever was,
But with you, it was true.
Born the runt of the litter,
The one with the crooked teeth,
The littlest one.
There was nothing quite right about you – but that made you perfect.
Beneath the fur that looked more like lamb’s wool lay a heart unmatched,
You were kind, you were caring, you were the softest light, yet you warmed our lives like nothing else.
Whether it was the sound of your tail hitting the hardwood floors when I’d come downstairs in the morning before school,
Or being the first face I would see when I’d open Mum and Dad’s front door visiting years later,
You were the constant in our family.
The one we got when we were a family of five living in one house together,
But no matter how much we grew, or changed, or moved around,
Where Chels was, home remained.
Sixteen years sees a lot,
And for me – you saw me from fourteen to thirty.
Even I wouldn’t recognise me back then,
But I know you would.
You were the adoptive mum of the other puppies to come,
Of Tilly, of Nelly, and Jimmy,
And a friend to everyone else.
There weren’t many people who met you whose hearts you didn’t touch,
And you’ll leave behind a hole in all of our lives,
Reserved just for you.
Goodbyes are never easy,
But this one seems to hurt most of all.
Because with this one, we can only hope that you knew how much we truly loved you,
How thankful we are for the happiness you brought to our world in your own way,
And how much we never wanted this goodbye to come.
But now, we can only offer words to a creature who could only show her love through her actions –
And show them you did.
Whether it was the leaf picked off the ground in your mouth and gifted to our hands when we got home,
Or a drooling head in our lap as we ate (and eventually shared) our morning toast,
When you picked up our dirty socks for us as we showered,
Or were the warm mass of white fur curling up next to us as we watched TV,
We felt your love every day.
And even the sadness we feel for you today is a gift from you to us.
Because having grief means that there was love,
That it existed, that it was big, and it was real,
And for that reason, it is an emotion I will never begrudge,
Nor one I would try to shy away from.
Because in life, unfortunately, we must learn to take the good with the bad,
And when it was this good, for this long,
The bad is always going to rear its head at some point and leave its mark.
And so, after sixteen years of unconditional love,
Of giving us joy and comfort,
Of being with us on every walk,
And there for us on every one of our bad days – despite never having one of your own,
It’s time for you to rest now.
In a place where all the good dogs go.
A place where there is always something good to sniff,
Where there are endless shorelines to run along,
Always sticks to chew,
And plenty of friends to meet.
In this place, may your eyes gain back the sight they lost in the last few years,
May your ears once again be able to hear your name being called,
And may your weary golden retriever hips now be renewed –
But may your crooked smile remain perfectly imperfect forever.
Goodbye and goodnight, Chels.
It’s been a joy and a gift having you in our lives for so long,
And we owe you a debt that we can never repay.
As a dog, as a soul, you were exceptional –
And we’ll never, ever forget you.
You filled our hearts until they overflowed, but saying goodbye today has broken them – if only just for now.
“Having a dog will bless you with the happiest days of your life, and one of the worst days”