He was our "Ministry Dog" - Dunkin of the Big Heart
Dunkin was a very precious Cocker Spaniel that my wife got on her birthday 10 years ago. He was part of our "congregation" - and was so loving that people perked up when he came into the room. He remained for church service - and only got rambunctious during communion because the bread must have seemed like a wonderful treat.
He was so sensitive to our feelings. Whenever one of us felt down or melancholy, he would instinctively cuddle as close as he could get and then put his paw or his head on our lap. I had to stop watching political shows on tv because he would sense my outrage and start to shake until we changed the channel and spoke softly to him.
He was silly and fun and meant the world to me. He was 2 months shy of his 11th birthday - and up until 6 months ago most people thought he was a puppy. He was a 10-year-old puppy in the way he acted, in the sparkle in his eyes.
I never had a pet growing up so he taught me how to care for him and how to love him. He taught me that I wouldn't die if a creature licked me in the face. I discovered absolute pure joy because of him. And he showed "unconditional love."
Dunkin did not like getting dirty. We thought it was funny that whenever we went camping he did not like to lie down. We finally had to buy him his own camp chair. It's so ironic that during his last 6 months he had to put up with slurping his food in liquid form, the result of a mandibulectomy for jaw cancer. Which meant that he dribbled it onto his legs and paws and face and all of the furniture and carpets. I don't think he liked all of the "mess." We kept him as clean as we could - yes, my wife even made little leggings for him - and we kept rotating clean sheets and towels for him to lie on. He had just seen the vet a week prior. He was thriving and seemed happy and silly as usual.
He passed at 1:00 am - 10 years to the day - on my wife's birthday. There were no warning signs or symptoms. We played and tussled and cuddled that day. We went to sleep, as usual, with Dunkin lying between us. I woke up at 1:00 am to the sound of 3 little wispy gasps. We immediately hit the light and discovered him on the floor - already gone.
I have to stop asking why, and the thousand "what ifs" that go through my mind. It is pure torture - more than i have ever known. I've been told that sometimes pets stay on longer than they should just to comfort us humans. If that's true, then he really "faked us out."
My only comfort is knowing that I will see him again in Heaven. I truly believe he was a gift from God, or maybe even a furry Angel. And God in his mercy took him home. He is sitting on his camp chair, by a campfire, waiting for us to come share his blanket.
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