“What I feel, I can’t say. But my love is there for you any time of day. But if it’s not love that you need. Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed. Tell me, what is my life without your love? Tell me, who am I without you by my side?” George Harrison, What Is Life
Is it possible to find one of your soul mates in an animal? I say yes. I did. I lost my dog, best friend, sweetest soul and greatest joy of my life last week. It’s been a tough start to this new beginning, but it’s also a blessing she is no longer suffering. I don’t want to get into her ailments because it’s too sad. I will say I was a full-time caregiver since the end of May. I will also say giving up personal time to care for her was an easy decision to make, and I would do it all over again. What she gave me in love and friendship outweighs any sacrifice to my personal time.
Chopper was my first dog. I wrote about her back in March (Chopper, Choppy, Chips, Mama C, Muffin, Punky, Stinky Face, Best Friend) so I won’t repeat how we met. I will tell you some of the funny things my little nugget did over the years that made my heart melt on a daily basis:
- Snoring. She could rival any man with her snoring capabilities. I have lost many hours of sleep from her snoring but never minded. It is my favorite sound.
- She thought people were treat machines. She learned pretty early on that people thought her little T-Rex legs coming up to try to high-five was adorable. Treats found their way to her in abundance when she raised that paw. She was a low rider (part bulldog, part pitbull), and her body was large on top and her legs were short. She walked into the vet, sat down and would just raise her paw in the air. She ruled.
- She knew when I was drunk. For a short period of time I tried to get her to sleep in her own bed. Magically, and only on the nights I drank wine at home, I would wake to find her in my bed. I only had one glass one night so was not sound asleep (ok, passed out) when she pulled her move. I stayed still to find out her tricks. I heard light clicking from her walk, and then I saw her head pop up to see if I moved. When I didn’t, she brought her right paw up onto the bed. Then she paused while staring at me. When I didn’t move, the left paw came up. She paused again. When I remained still, she started to ever so slowly pull herself up. Her back right paw came up, followed by the left. For lack of a better description, she tip-toed in a circle and calmly laid herself down. Then sighed. Success! If I wasn’t so impressed, I would have told her to get down. I said, “Choppy!” Her head jerked up so fast like she was in trouble. I told her she was a good girl, and she slept with me in bed until the end.
- When I was sad, she gave me what I needed. Love and her presence. She would just lay next to me, always making sure she was touching me in some way. If it wasn’t for her, I would not have made it through my divorce. I would have come out an angry, bitter lady, but she gave me purpose and meaning on days when I couldn’t find any.
- She stopped to smell the roses. Literally. When we would go on walks, she always stopped to smell the flowers along the way. She reminded me to do the same.
- She loved the mornings. She woke up happy, did a downward dog stretch and wagged her tail ready to take on the day. I was already a morning person, but she made me appreciate them even more. Watching her morning routine reminded me that every day truly is a new start. You have a choice to embrace it or be an asshole. Chops and I embraced it. This is a lesson I couldn’t have learned in therapy. I could have only learned that from life with Chopper.
The end with her shattered my heart. In true Chopper fashion, she gave me a laugh and smile before she left. When she was asleep, she gave her loudest snores I have ever heard. I’m quite certain the entire doctor’s office could hear them. I got to hear my favorite sound once more as loud as it could go! I am forever grateful for the comic relief at the worst moment of my life. That’s Chopper though – always taking care of me.
She will be a part of me the rest of my life. When someone (she was a person to me) is there for every high and low of your life, loves you unconditionally and waits until you are in a good place to let go, they will remain in your heart forever. Our bond was one that can’t be explained. We got each other and were in each others’ lives for a reason. To be cliché, when I rescued her from the shelter, she saved me right back. I love you, Chopper. Rest easy, sweet girl.