I’m not linking to other posts here. I’m not using this post to market my other projects. I’m writing to honor the memory of one of my best friends.
One amazing fateful early November weekday in 2009, my wife and her sister drove to Indiana to pick up what would become the best decision we had made as a couple since getting married: the adoption of our pup Winnie.
Let me back up. It was actually more Kori that was pushing for a dog. I was hesitant, not sure we were ready for the responsibility. But that didn’t hold Kori back, and with the help of her preceptors at school, she selected a Mastiff mix from a shelter on Pet-finder, was given the day off of school to make the trek, and she went to pick her up.
In the car, the sweet, skittish pup smelled a bit ripe, a bit like poo I guess you could say because that’s where the name Winnie came from…Winnie The Poo and all that.
At the shelter, Kori immediately knew the dog was going home with her. Winnie’s brother had been adopted recently, and she had been crying since. The girls at the shelter told Kori that the pup was a bit skittish, but if you knelt or sat on the ground, she would greet you. Kori sat on the ground, and Winnie came right up to her and burried her head against Kori’s chest.
Winnie, until the day she passed, was hesitant of men that she did not know, but she seemed to take to me quickly, and we became a family. That’s not to say that we didn’t have our skepticism early on. Accidents in the crate, crying and barking if not in the same room as us at night, torn-up furniture…all temporary as Winnie matured and was allowed to sleep in the bed with us, a decision we’d regret with a bittersweetness.
We had nine solid years with Winnie. And she was about a year when we got her, meaning that her life was cut short (although no time is long enough) at about ten years of age.
She was a lazy dog; that’s why we decided on a Mastiff. We are not the most active of people, so we wanted a dog to match our lifestyle, and that’s what we got. Winnie was the best cuddly, lazy dog in the world, if you were not a strange man or a little child; she really didn’t like small kids.
She had a presence in every room of the house, making her passing very difficult for us. I just opened a small bag of chips to pour on my plate and expected her to run over and sit for a few, but when I looked over, she wasn’t there. She will not be there ever again.
It’s tough to lose a friend. Especially a friend that you’ve seen almost every day for the past nine years. Kori and I don’t have kids, and I think that made Winnie’s presence that much more important.
A couple of months ago, Winnie was diagnosed with a heart condition, and we had an appointment this upcoming Wednesday to take her to see a doggie cardiologist; I know some of you will think that it’s silly that we were going to take our pup to see a heart specialist and were considering getting her a pacemaker if need be, but many of you out there will understand and appreciate us wanting to do everything in our power to save our best friend.
So there were times I’d wake up to a still pup lying on the bed. And if her tired butt didn’t move for a sec, I’d get scared that we’d lost her. But then she’d sigh and look at me like “Why are you bothering me?” I’d breath a sigh myself (of relief), and we’d get on with the day. But Saturday morning was different. I woke up at 6:00 A.M. with a headache and saw Winnie sleeping by Kori’s legs as usual. I went downstairs to relax and fell asleep until 10:00 A.M.; I went upstairs to find Kori in the shower and the dog in the same position on the bed. Kori often snuck out of bed to shower to let the dog sleep, and this morning, she had thought I took her out and fed her at 6:00 A.M. when I woke, but I didn’t.
I knew it was bad news.
I put my hand on her stomach to check her breathing, and she was lifeless. I pet her head, called her name, and tried to move her. It was for nothing. Our baby had passed. Her heart had stopped beating sometime in the night, and she died peacefully on our bed next to her mom.
In hindsight it was the best way she could have went. She didn’t suffer. She didn’t have to go through surgery. She didn’t need to be put down in a strange office on a cold table. She was with us. And she just left. I say this knowing that it does not ease the pain of her not being here.
It’s only been about 29 hours since we found her, and I can’t count the amount of times I’ve looked for her, saw her, thought of her. And I know that time heals all wounds, but I think this is going to take a lot of time because Kori and I have built our story with and around our Winnie. Her quirks, her idiosyncrasies, her bark, her trot, her drool…have all become a part of our life. I came home from shopping today to see the faint remains of some water that had splashed out from her mouth by her water dish, and I was reminded that I will never have her water-drool mouth soak my pants again as she lay her head on my leg looking for snacks. Call me silly if you want, but I’ve never been one with a large, close family. That dog was family, and we mourn our loved ones.
To those of you that have lost a close pet, I’m sorry, and I hope you have found peace. And if you know anything to make the pain go away quicker, please let us know. We are going to make a photo album of her, we are going to host a small funeral at the house for her favorite people, and we are already thinking about adopting another wonderful family member for which we can care. But none of this will or should take away the memory of Winnie.
I had heard once that the sadder you are after someone passes, the happier you should be that they were in your life. I’ve spent 1/4 of my life life building a story with Winnie, a slightly bigger fraction for my wife, and those 9 years have been some of the happiest.
We will miss you, girl. We want you to know how wonderful you were, and how much light you brought into our lives.
In closing, I’d like to take a moment to share with you a couple of Winnie’s aliases that aided in her story:
McBadge: the crime-hardened dog detective, hell-bent on finding justice…
Mon Santos: the luchador (actually McBadge undercover to take down the Mexican drug cartel)
And like most owners, we gave Winnie a voice. She was a foul-mouthed cynic that swore at us and called us names on the daily. I think I will miss doing that voice most of all.
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