My Gift From Heaven

by Rhonda Collopy
(Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

I found Chester at the SPCA, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in January of 2002. I looked into his cage, and he immediately kissed my nose. I was hooked from that moment, and I knew that we were meant to be together.

It was such a lucky day, because I was going through a rough patch in my life, and I found the perfect, most beautiful dog at the SPCA. Too make it more special, I was with my human best friend, who has passed away now as well. I knew that Chester was a special gift to help me get through my tough time, and to provide me with companionship and direction.

Chester and I moved to Victoria, BC in 2004. We loved it there! The weather was mild and we walked at the oceanside dog parks all the time. He was my constant companion, whether we were walking, studying for my nursing license, or travelling to Calgary or Regina to visit family.

Some of his favourite things to do were racing through the grass as fast as he could go, balancing on logs or high rocks, eating Timbits from Tim Hortons and ice cream from Dairy Queen, and being pampered and petted.

After graduating nursing school, Chester and I moved to Calgary to live and work. He became the son to my husband, and the brother to Duke. Even though Duke outweighed Chester by 60 lbs, Chester was the alpha dog and bossed his larger brother around. They enjoyed getting into trouble together.

Two stories that come to mind are when they stole a chicken carcass off the cupboard and were eating it together on the couch when we came home. The other time we were camping and had left a screened window opened on the top floor of our house. The pet sitter stepped out for an hour and the dogs pushed through the screen, onto the garage roof and proceeded to bark at everyone until the police were called.

Chester was very tolerant when my children were born, despite his general dislike for children. He assumed his new role under their chairs, eating whatever food they dropped. He also made himself the night watchman and toured through both children's rooms every night before bed.

In his final years, Chester had seizures, very bad back problems, congestive heart failure and very few teeth, but he did his best to live each day to the fullest. His back gave out for the final time on Monday, February 29. It was the worst it had ever been, and he had almost no control or strength in his hind legs. He was in pain, but we hoped that with rest he would improve.

He started crying at night and he was unable to poop. His quality of life was so poor that I couldn't watch my little boy suffer, even though I wanted to keep him with me forever. We had him euthanized on March 8th, 2016. It was the hardest day of our lives, but he was calm and seemed prepared to move on.

Later the same day, our big dog Duke, saw something upstairs in our house... where Chester used to spend most of his time. Duke ran outside and wouldn't come back inside the house without being carried. I believe this was Chester's last visit with Duke, reminding him to stay out of his space and that he is in charge, even though he is gone.

I will miss my little boy forever. He was my soulmate, my gift from God, and the best dog I have ever known.

I love you, Chester.

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