I never knew I was a dog person. I had cats growing up…and I never felt particularly connected to them. Yes I loved them. I cared about them. But I didn’t really get them.
I was actually afraid of dogs. Every summer growing up we went to a small lake town in Gold Rush country that had no leash law. I remember walking home from pee wee golfing at night and there would often be a dog growling or snapping at us as we passed by. They seemed scary, these big creatures with fur and sharp teeth.
Then I met two dogs that changed it all for me: sweetheart Tate and goofy Bizmark. I slowly began to realize that I might just be a dog person after all. I loved the way dogs spoke to me and wanted to play. Dogs are extroverted pack animal, just like me!
So when my husband and I bought our first home in a canyon in Los Angeles and he was headed off on tour with his band for 3 months, I was ready to officially become a dog owner. We searched the shelters and encountered Dozer, a two year old Boxer/Shepard mix who had the right stuff. He was house trained, he loved to go on runs and he loved kids. BINGO!
My relationship with Dozer was the most uncomplicated relationship I’ve ever had. It went like this; I give food, shelter, a run and some ear scratches. I receive unconditional love, endless enthusiasm, unwavering support, hugs, kisses, delight, loyalty, patience, energy, cuddles, devotion and hours of uninterrupted listening. He was ridiculously selfless and always happy.
It was the beginning of an 8 year love affair. Dozer and I bonded quickly as we whisked Rob off on his tour…Dozer literally followed me from room to room. Eager to please, ready for a hike at a moment’s notice, and always, always filled with love and devotion.
When we moved to our current home in the SF Bay Area and gave birth to daughter, Annabella, Dozer adjusted pretty quickly to being the big brother. He loved Annabella so much…putting up with her toddler years of pulling his ears and grabbing fistfuls of his hair. I remember one Christmas when the kids decided to decorate Dozer with wrapping paper and ribbons. He just smiled. He slept in Annabella’s room for the last couple of years, always waiting until she fell asleep before sneaking down stairs to be with Rob and me.
I cherished our runs and hikes in the hills together…just Dozer and me. In fact, you can often see or hear Dozer in my Wake-Up Call Wednesday videos (my fav Dozer feature is my Awaiting Further Instructions New Year video from the beach).
Dozer was my best friend, soulmate, confidant, protector, companion and so much more. He has been the energetic and literal soundtrack of our household since coming on the scene. His eagerness, the sound of his paws on the hardwood floors, the affection and love I received every time I walked through the door is irreplaceable.
So when I began noticing a couple of months ago that something wasn’t right with him, I pretended I didn’t know what I knew.
I made an unspoken agreement with Dozer; I’ll pretend not to know that you’re really sick, if you promise to let me know when it gets to be too much. OK?
So we carried on and I blew off him not being able to keep up with me on a run, or throwing up a couple of times, or limping on one leg. I’d wishfully pretended it was a cold, or a sprain or the flu…desperately trying not to know what I knew.
Until it became clear to me that it was too much. Dozer stopped eating, dropping 8 pounds in a matter of weeks. He couldn’t even make it around the block.
So I decided to take him into the vet, preparing myself to get confirmation of what I already knew.
We took him to the vet and ran labs last Thursday, did an ultrasound on his abdomen and liver on Friday, got official word of the aggressive terminal liver cancer on Saturday, and put him down at our home with the most compassionate hospice nurse on Sunday.
And now one of the greatest loves of my life is gone.
I know letting him go was the greatest gift I could give him. I’ve watched people I love die from cancer and there was no way I was going to put my sweet, goofy, loyal til the end pooch through that.
He promised me that he’d let me know when it was too much. So he did. So I let him go with love and grace and peace. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I’m grateful I did it. And I know that Dozer is now free to run, jump, play, and smooch in all his glory. He’s an angel watching over us now.
With tear stained checks,
P.S. Is there anything that you’re pretending not to know, sweetheart? Check in now and see how it’s working for you. Is it important to keep pretending or are you ready to face the truth? I’m here holding your hand either way.
P.P.S. Thanks for reading and witnessing, darling. I’ve been blown away by the love on my Facebook page. THANK YOU.