When I was a kid, I wanted nothing more than a dog. I'm fairly sure that from the day I learned to speak, I was asking for you. Daddy didn't want you, because he knew he would end up bearing the brunt of the work. Mom had to go behind his back and lose his trust just to get you.
I remember on my eighth birthday, I was taken out of school. I wasn't expecting it - I had expected to go through the whole day, but Mom just couldn't wait to show you to me. I remember staring in wonder as you slept, peacefully in a box, a little baby that was too tired even to explore her new home.
I named you Alexandra. I hadn't given much thought to what the name meant, it was simply the first name that popped into my head. Looking back now, I realize that it means "defender of men." Eight year old me couldn't have been more accurate.
We did everything together. When I was happy, you were happy, and we chased each other around the house, tackled each other, wrestled each other, and played keep-away. When I was sad, you would come over to me, lick my face and lay your head on my lap, as if to say that you were there for me. You were everything I'd ever wanted.
Being a child, I wasn't able to give you the best care - the best food, the yearly vet trip, daily walks - and you weren't very sociable. Still, as long as you were home with us, you were the sweetest dog that any of us had ever known.
I taught you the basics, like how to sit, stay, give your paw, and roll over. People got a kick out of how nice you were once they got to know you. You calmed down over the years, but you were still my baby through thick and thin.
No matter what happened I knew I had you to come home to. Sometimes, after a particularly long day, I would sit with you on the couch and watch tv while you nuzzled into my neck. It was like you were giving me a hug.
Soon, though, you got very slow and lazy. Daddy and I thought you were simply getting old, until you went off your food. Then we thought you were simply being picky. We tried everything.
It wasn't until you started throwing up everything we gave you that we knew something must be wrong, and when there was blood, we took you straight to the hospital. I still remember the pleading look on your face as they led you out of the room, away from us. You didn't want to go.
It cost Daddy more money than he had to put you on IVs and let you stay at the hospital for a few days. They did tests upon tests and gave you some medicine. After some IV treatment and medication you looked better, but as soon as we took you home, you got worse again. I was prepared for the worst.
When you were just skin and bones, we took you to a different vet. Although by this time we had already gotten a second, third, and fourth opinion, we were willing to try anything to get you to eat and feel better.
It wasn't long before we were hearing scary words like "cancer" and "tumor," and we learned that the disease had spread to your liver and was causing you pain. We didn't have any choice but to let you go. I'm sorry.
It was a day after my birthday that we put you to sleep, because we didn't want to say goodbye to you the day before. It would have been too sad to put you to rest on the day that, eight years earlier, I had just begun to get to know you.
Alexandra, you weren't a bad dog. Nobody really knew you like I did. When you went to sleep, Daddy cried more than I did. He would never admit that he loved you, even though he supposedly never wanted you. He did, and I did, more than anything. We both still miss you so much.
It took another 3 years, almost 4, to get him to agree to a new dog, Max. He reminds me so much of you, and if he were just a few shades lighter he might even look like you when he gets older. His mannerisms already remind me of you - the way he nuzzles my neck, and barks and growls playfully when we play tug-of-war.
I am not trying to replace you, and the fact that he reminds me of you is completely by accident. I think that maybe, somehow, the universe slips me little signs that you and your undying spirit are still out there somewhere, waiting for me, loving me unconditionally, just like you always have.
I still love you, Alexandra, and I know that when Max's time comes, you and he will be great friends. Until then, just remember that I love you, I always have loved you, I always will love you, and I still have pictures of you that remind me of the good times we shared. Thank you for being my best friend.
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