Rocky, My Soulmate

Rocky, you were more than just a pet, you were my friend, my loyal companion, my confidant, the reason behind my smiles and sometimes also behind my worries. I always had a fear of losing you. I dreaded that day. When it came, it came out of the blue and broke me in two.

Not a day has gone by when I haven't thought of you, or spoke to your photos, or remembered you in conversation or asked questions to various people, be it bereavement services, family members, vets, friends, in the hope of alleviating any doubts of whether I could have saved you, whether it was my fault for the way things turned out. I have been hard on myself, I know I did everything I could, and yet feel I didn't do enough.

I didn't know the extent of love I had for you. It's more than I've ever felt for a human bereavement. Feelings of anger, guilt, confusion, resentment, jealousy have flowed through me like water running through a pipe. There is no limit, and no end in sight.

Every day feels difficult, challenging, dark, but then I think of what a brave soul you were, that you concealed any emotions that displayed weakness, you never showed your pain, you were stubborn. You had dignity and integrity till the very end.

You didn't want me there at the end, and you demonstrated it by growling at me, but you let me pat you when I came back from the brink of tears and hurt. I know you didn't want to depart on bad terms with me, you wanted to save me from the pain because you knew and saw what an emotional wreck I had been the whole week.

You were intelligent. You knew I wouldn't be able to see them put you to sleep. I didn't see them do it, but I heard about them, and this mental image horrifies me.

Putting someone to sleep should be a decision that one makes of their free will, not something that's forced upon you. The only thing that gives me comfort is knowing you didn't cry, bark, try to fight back with your paws, and that you looked relaxed and kept on looking into my dad's eyes. You didn't seem in pain, or nervous.

Yet I torture my self by looking at photos of you on the last day where you were avoiding eye contact and looking into the distance.

I didn't know what that meant, and I educated myself by reading about animal body language and behaviours and found out that whale eyes, looking away, and a lifted paw mean feelings of worry, fear, anxiety and conflict, of whether you should escape or stay with your family. You were paralysed so you couldn't escape.

In the end you growled at them, but then you stopped and didn't struggle. I guess you accepted death. You weren't afraid of it, you were ready to go, you just didn't want to be taken away from your favourite garden.

When they came you thought they would take you away, but when they remained there and you saw that you weren't going anywhere, you surrendered. I am grateful that you were calm and in familiar surroundings and got to say good bye to your loved ones.

I torture myself by thinking that you didn't know what they were doing to you, that you couldn't feel the injections because you were paralysed. Otherwise you would've rebelled because you hated injections.

However I also know that, although you lost sensation in your hind legs, you could feel sensation in other areas, and you could see and you were intelligent enough to sense that this wasn't a normal routine activity. Deep down I know you sensed and accepted death and you were not angry and scared.

I wasn't prepared. Strangely enough, I felt this might happen, yet fought against these feelings. I wanted to stay positive but couldn't do so completely. I do know that everything happens for a reason. Some days I'm accepting of this and others I'm not. I know deep down I do accept this, and some days there is clarity on the reasons why this happened.

I don't know how to navigate through life without you. We had our own routines -- greeting you first thing in the morning, and being around you throughout the whole day, playing with you, feeding you endless treats, brushing your fur, giving you water, patting you endlessly throughout the day, talking to you about life, knowing that you were listening, not judging me, loving me unconditionally.

No one has demonstrated that love, loyalty and patience towards me apart from you. It was like you were an amazing human soul in a dog's body. Your mannerisms and your personality weren't like those of any other dog I've seen. You were the most handsome dog, and others also saw what a handsome boy you were and weren't hesitant in expressing this opinion.

You have given me so many signs, and I am thankful for them. Some of them I have understood or tried to understand and others I haven't. Everyone has been telling me about the rainbow bridge. I hope you are running around in the meadows with wonderful, friendly dogs, having the best time ever.

I had my selfish reasons for not wanting to say goodbye but to know you are able to run, and aren't in pain makes me happy.

It's going to take time to heal, accept, navigate life with routine, laughter and joy. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the gift of life, but I miss having you in it. I tell myself that you are looking over me. You were protective in this life and you continue to be.

I didn't understand the meaning of the song "My heart will go on" but now I do. Although you aren't physically in body, you will always continue to visit me, maybe in my dreams, or on your terms in another setting. Our love won't ever die. Love can and does continue to exist beyond different planes. You will be safe in my heart.

You stole my heart on the very first day I saw you. I remember you sitting there on my lap, trying to shower me with kisses, and me being overwhelmed because I hadn't had a dog before.

I won't forget you trying to pull the towels down from the washing line, biting and chewing everything in sight -- the stair case banister, chairs, cushions. Scratching the doors, running away with the socks, chewing five pairs of my shoes. I still don't know why only my shoes were targeted!

I won't ever forget the fun times we had playing tug of war. Boy, did you show strength. I felt exhausted after that. I will always fondly remember playing fetch the ball, fetch the bone, you enjoying playing with you Kong toy for hours on end. I will never forget you running and jumping excitedly in the snow, or you trying to snatch our tissues from our pockets.

You were a bundle of laughs, and you made us laugh with your dancing and rolling around on your back and kicking you legs in the air. I'm sure you're still the reason why my tears and frowns turn into smiles. I'm sure you're making those around you smile and laugh with you hysterics.

I do wish we'd spent even more time together, but call it premonition, two months before your passing I started distancing myself from you. Sometimes I wouldn't pat you in the mornings, and I'd run inside to eat my breakfast. I don't know why I did that. I feel guilty about this now but also know it wasn't on purpose. I felt that you may not be here for much longer.

I felt guilty patting you and thinking this and yet felt I had to distance myself from you. Why this thought even cropped up I don't know, and I kept fighting it. I also noticed that our thoughts were in sync with each other. You also started detaching yourself from me. Normally when I'd call your name you would come running to me, but then you wouldn't.

Sometimes you would come to the patio door and scratch it, wanting me to pat you, and then you would run off when I came to see you. I always felt you were saying to me, "I won't always be here when you call me so get used to it." I feel in your own way you were trying to adjust me to life without you.

There were times when you would stand there in the mornings, waiting for me to open the door, and then walking away when I wouldn't come.

When I'd open the door after breakfast, sometimes you would come and sometimes you wouldn't. I felt as if you were saying "You're not patting me now, but wait till I'm gone. You'll miss me then." I'm glad there were only a few mornings when I didn't pat you, but if I could turn back time and pat you those few mornings, I would in a heartbeat.

On reflection I've been blessed to have had you for 9 and a half years. I just wish it could've been longer. But then I think of those who passed away as puppies or in extremely young age, and I thank my lucky stars that we had as much time as we did together.

I love you so much. No words in a diary, blog, memorial site or in conversation can ever express that, nor will they ever.

Rocky, I will always love you, and that love will never fade!

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