Thursday, January 17, 2013
The loss of a member of the family. Yesterday, the family had to put Charlie to sleep. He'd suffered a serious stroke which affected his legs, vision, breathing, etc.
Charlie was 13 years old (roughly 91 years in human terms). 13 years of love, affection, and memories given to the family.
I woke up this morning, and went upstairs. It was weird. Normally, my sister-in-law would turn the radio on low before she went to work, so that Charlie didn't feel left alone. Well, this morning, it was absolutely silent. Not a sound.
It felt... wrong. The house felt empty to me.
I didn't like it.
Charlie was such a well behaved, and quiet dog. About the only time he'd raise a ruckus was when someone would ring the door bell... then you couldn't get him to be quiet. When he wanted out, he'd go towards the patio door, and wag his tail. When he wanted back in, he'd lay down by the patio door until you let him in again. His favorite spots to sleep were under the coffee table in the living room, and by my niece's bed. When I was in the bathroom, he'd curl up by the door in the hallway, and sometimes, I'd find it laying by the front door waiting for the rest of the family to come home.
He didn't like broccholi, and would nudge it aside whenever he found it mixed in with his food. He loved it when you'd scratch a spot on his right hindquarters... in fact his butt would move to the right when you did it. He didn't like the cat sticking its butt in his face. He'd get this look that pretty much said, "How uncouth can you get?". Charlie loved going for car rides and walks... and pooping on asphalt.
During the summers, when the family would be gone for a weekend, it'd be just me and Charlie. We'd have a movie marathon, and while I watched movies, Charlie would be curled up on the couch next to me. If you laid down on the carpet, he would often come over and flop down with you. Sometimes, I'd find Charlie digging at a couple of spots on the carpet upstairs, and I could never figure out why.
During the winter, Charlie would have long fur with a slight curl to it. During the summer, he would get trimmed down, except for his tail- which would remain bushy. He always reminded me of a cross between a dachsun and a doberman- short and pudgy in build, but with the markings of a doberman.
Charlie was the cutest, most lovable, and most loving dog ever.
When I heard the silence this morning, all of those memories washed over me in a wave. My chest tightened, and my breath hitched.
It hurt... it really hurt.
There are people out there who say that pets are just animals. I dare them to spend 13 years raising a pet, and sharing their Lives with them. I don't think they'd be able to remain so detached afterwards.
When you raise a pet- especially from a baby, they become more than JUST a pet. They become part of the family- their odd quirks, moods, and personalities meshing with those of the humans around them. They don't see us as humans. They see us as part of their pack or litter- and take care of us, just as we take care of them. Cats will bring us birds and mice as gifts of love, and lessons on how to survive. Dogs will curl up by your side when you're sick in bed to let you know you're not alone.
When you raise a pet, you invest so much of yourself into them- your emotions, love, and hope, that eventually, they become such an integral part of your Life. When they're gone, part of you is gone as well- and it hurts.
But, so long as you remember them, and hold them in your heart, they will always be near... just a gentle thought away.
Sleep well, Charlie... and may there never be broccholi in your food on the other side.