Emmett was my favorite dog. I love all of my pets, past and present, with all of my heart, but the bond we had was something special. It is the kind of understanding that is impossible to explain unless you’ve experienced it, and I say it as someone who’s had pets all her life. I get all of my pets inside and out.
But this one got me, and that was singular.
On the day we said goodbye for the last time, I had to work in the morning. That was brutal. I had asked the babysitter to take the kids somewhere for the afternoon so they wouldn’t be home when we actually bid goodbye. I came in the house, already upset, and called for him. He didn’t answer. I looked some more. No Emmett.
Panicking, I called the babysitter, who told me with some chagrin that she had let him outside and forgot to let him back in. And it was hot out.
At that point, the tears really started. I couldn’t find him anywhere. This is a dog who had never run away, and now I had visions of him, sick, tired, somehow getting past the fence and wandering the streets, alone, while I waited at home to- well, give him to death. It was one of the worst moments of my life.
As the pleas became more wracked with distress, he finally wandered up to me from some corner of the yard. He must have found a nice shady spot to lay down in and fallen asleep, his last time in the sunlight. As tired as he was, when he heard me calling with the fear palpable in my voice, he roused himself and came to me with what little energy he had at that point.
He came inside, too tired to go further than the living room, and went back to rest on the floor. He didn’t even flinch when we placed the catheter. And then he left.
Two days prior, we were at Dog Beach and he was enjoying the last burst of energy before the lymphoma mounted its final assault. He knew it was a special day of fun but he also knew something was wrong with me, as he would wander to the water, wander back to me to give me a lick, then take off again. That was the day the photographer approached us to take his picture, sensing the moment we were having.
Even now, two years later, thinking about that last week brings on such an unexpected tsunami of emotion that never fails to make me tear up, not even now as I am typing it. While all of my losses leave an indelible scar on my heart, his took something more, leaving in its place a dull throb that nags like a chronic bad knee- always there, and when I stop to think about it, an ache I become more aware of.
And I know that here, the people who read this, totally get what I am talking about.
If you weren’t here last year, I made a video to honor not only Emmett but all the Emmetts/Baileys/Mindys of your own lives, the heart pets who took a part of you with them when they left.
And so, because it’s good every once in a while to pick at those scabs and just kind of let it all hang out a little, I invite everyone to share a story, a picture, or a post about your heart pet. Or pets. It’s that kind of day.