My Boy

Coming home is the hardest part
I always used to look forward to walking through the door
hearing the thud of his tail on the floor
Seeing his face light up when he saw mine
almost as if he was waiting by the door the whole time

Leaving home is the hardest part
I miss my goodbye kisses
I miss the old man's antics
The way he would roll over on his back
his toy in his mouth
radiating happiness
The way he would talk to you when he barked
I could talk to him about anything
He would always listen
Yes, I will miss that old fart
Never thought I'd say it
but I'm even going to miss his farts...

Being at home is the hardest part
He could barely get up or walk toward the end
but I'll be damned if he didn't follow me around every room
everywhere I went
inside or outside, rain or shine
He was my light & my shadow for 14 years
Being at home is the hardest part
Home was wherever I was with him

* * * * *

Even the great ones have to go
I know, some will say, "He was just a dog"
but Buddy was so much more than that to me
Growing up, he was like the brother I never had
As we both got older, he was like my child
I was a proud dad, still am

That dog made me a better man
He taught me a lot about unconditional love & loyalty
About never growing up
never giving up on the life you love
He fought time until the very end
seemingly ignoring the arthritis & nerve damage that wrecked his hips
Simply not paying attention to the congestive heart failure
All he cared about was fetching the ball in the yard
or bringing back the stick in the water
All he cared about was pleasing his family, his best friend
That feeling was mutual
I would do anything for that guy
He probably would've lived for me forever
pretended like he was fine
But I knew he was hurting
& I couldn't stand to see him suffer any longer
The hardest thing I've ever done was say goodbye

* * * * *

I laid down beside him on the floor at the vet's
& I could start to feel the anesthetic take effect
I looked in his eyes & remembered how he would always look at me
always watching out, making sure I was taken care of
I rubbed behind his ears & remembered how scared he would get
every time he heard the vacuum turn on
He was the biggest scaredy cat
He was even scared of cats
I scratched his stomach & remembered the time
when he jumped up on the kitchen counter
& ate a whole family-sized Hawaiian pizza from Papa Murphy's
Needless to say, he slept in the garage that night
I'm still impressed... can't believe he did that
My hand moved down his back, then along his tail
I massaged his bony hind legs
He sure did log a lot of miles on those things
He was just as competitive as I am
We both took our playing very seriously
We'd be out in the backyard for hours
me hitting the baseball & him bringing it back
That guy was an athlete
He could literally catch anything
The best hand-eye...
I mean, mouth-eye coordination
I've ever seen

All these memories came flooding back to me
& it was about then that I leaned down & hugged him
hanging on for dear life
It was about then that the vet took off her stethoscope
"He's gone"

* * * * *

The memories of him slid down my cheeks for weeks
It took awhile
but now I look back, think of him
& smile
They are happy tears now
I found solace the moment I realized he lived a long, happy life
I knew he knew that he was loved

He was a special soul
He was a blast when he was younger
& just as much fun when he was old
His happy-go-lucky, fun-loving, playful personality
captured the hearts of everyone who ever met him
He always put a smile on my face
no matter what was going on in life
no matter what anxieties or burdens dominated my mind
no matter what was on my plate

He was a one-of-a-kind kind of guy
Looking back, there were times in my life
that I simply wouldn't have made it
if not for him always by my side
Looking back, I can honestly say
that I needed him as much as he needed me

* * * * *

Rest in peace, my Buddy boy
I'll never forget all that you did for me
I'll always cherish the memories
You were a blessing & my best friend