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He's Gone . . .

He’s gone . . .

We had to say goodbye to Winston today. My heart is breaking. The most incredible dog in the world is gone. He lived to be 17 and 4 months. Seventeen years of unconditional love and loyalty. I don’t know how we’re going to get along without him.

I had to fight to get him. My husband was too devastated from losing his last dog to ever want to open up his heart again. I got him to say maybe to a dog and I was off and running. I saw an ad in the paper that day for cockapoo puppies. I called and the breeder told me she had three left. One girl and two boys. I want the girl I told her. Hold her for me. The next day I loaded the three kids in the van and drove and hour and a half to the breeder’s home; telling my husband we were just going to look. The breeder said they were too little to go home.

We arrive at the breeder’s home and see three of the cutest puppies ever. That’s when she drops the bomb on me, the female has been adopted, only the boys are left. I’d never had a male dog but then this fat little fluff ball wormed his way into our hearts. She then proceeds to tell us that the male pups are big enough to go home. I knew then that I wasn’t leaving without him. We pay $300 and leave with our two pound fluff ball. What was I going to tell my husband?

On the way home, the kids discuss names but I already know what his name was – Winston. It’s a strong name – and what better namesake than Winston Churchill. Later, my sons ask if it’s after Nascar racing – Bob asks if it’s after the cigarette brand. Seriously?

We arrived home with our ball of fur and their father sees me holding, in one hand, this little puff ball and asks if I got a guinea pig. He’s dubious about having another dog and asks “How long will he live? Two years?” I respond that would mean he is a guinea pig.

I bought the dog for the kids so they would have a companion growing up; but I will admit he always was my dog. I was his Mom. We would come home and he always greeted me first. He slept under our kitchen table and whenever I came home, he always got up to greet me. Even when he was older and would sleep so soundly, I would tip toe past him to make sure I didn’t wake him and somehow, he always knew and I would hear him walking slowly to my bedroom to find me.

He had a keen intuition when it came to our emotions. He always knew when someone was upset or sick, he would make sure he would lay with them. He always had to be touching you. If you moved, he moved with you. When I was diagnosed with cancer the first time, I was alone that night. I was perfectly fine with that because I had my ever faithful companion with me. He laid on my lap while I worked through my news, laying on me and giving me his loving energy. Whenever I came home from surgeries, he was frantic to get on my lap. When I was diagnosed last year with cancer for the second time, I once again had him on my lap. I knew he was 16 and life was getting harder for him. I asked him to stay around a little longer to help me on my second journey. I told him I knew I was being selfish but I needed his loving energy one more time. He stayed with me for that year, my loyal companion. My treatment was much more difficult this time and he was with me every step of the way. He laid on my lap for hours on end, just giving me his heart.

He was a sweet gentle soul. My sister Denise used to say he was the perfect gentlemen. He wasn’t a barker. He’d wait patiently at the door for you to let him in. He thought he was human. He never ate dog treats because, well, they were for dogs. He’d maybe sit when you asked and possibly give you his paw but you had to have something good to eat like cheese before he’d do it. He always had a cheeseburger with a candle in it for this birthday. In his youth, he fell in love with a stuffed dog and carried it everywhere with him. He always gave in to his stepsister Maddie. He did his best to tolerate the beast Beau. He was 10 pounds of pure goodness. All he wanted to do in life was give love.

Everyone loved Winston. People loved him so much that over 25 people went to the same breeder to get a dog just like “Winston”. His legacy of love will live on.

As I write this my house is so quiet. I’ll miss the “bink, bink, bink” sound of his little walk. His sigh when he was brought up onto my lap. I know he was in pain the last few weeks, but he soldiered on. He still tried to follow me from room to room. He was my ever faithful companion to the end.

When I set the appointment for today, there was a part of me that was secretly hoping the Doctor would say he wasn’t ready but that was not the case. I held him in my arms telling him how much I loved him and thanked him for picking us for his family. When he started to fall asleep we laid him down, both Bob and I petting him and telling him how much we loved him. I wanted the last thing for him to feel was our love. When he was gone, we wrapped him in a blanket and brought him home. I rocked him in a chair outside while Bob prepared the hole and told him once again how much he meant to us. Silly isn’t it? He was gone but I needed to hold him just a little bit longer.

Our lives are forever changed because of the two pound fluff ball we brought home 17 years ago. He taught us what unconditional love was all about. He showed us how to be selfless and to be caring. We hurt immensely because we were lucky enough to have his love. Thank you Winston for choosing us, we are forever grateful.

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