The first day you were mine, you broke my heart.
You were so tiny, yet so big. A whopping 25 pounds at 8 weeks. I held you in my lap the entire way home. I could tell you were scared, but you snuggled close. Your yelps and cries shrieked from your crate, and my chest cracked and ached. You missed your mama, and I wondered if I’d made a mistake. But the next morning, I released you from your metal prison and once again, you snuggled close. I looked at you, you looked at me. And I said, “Alright little pup, you’re mine.”
You grew fast. You grew huge. You loved the car, even though I was silly enough to own both a Mini Cooper and a Great Dane. You struggled with potty training, and sometimes I yelled. But one day you got it, and we all rejoiced.
We took you to Canada, not once but twice. I wanted you to enjoy the one place my heart feels at ease. You explored the beach and splashed in the ocean. You dug for driftwood and slept by the fire. And when it was time to go, I could tell you were as sad as me.
You weren’t always the easiest, my Gussy. You were a tad neurotic and a lot anxious. But I guess I’m to blame since dogs supposedly take on the personalities of their owners (sorry about that). You were fiercely protective, but sometimes too much. Your “stranger danger” was always on high alert, especially with men. And for that, all I can say is thanks.
Your personality was big and bold. You “spoke” when you wanted something or just needed a scritch. You barked at the TV, again and again. You weren’t fond of suspenseful scenes, loud noises, or cops kicking in doors on my beloved crime shows. You thought cats were toys, and the squirrels always teased you. You’d shove your nose into your food bowl and flip dog food all over the floor. Sometimes for fun and sometimes to punish me for shutting the blinds on you. You were often a bit odd, like when you insisted on sticking half your body in the shower with me. You closed your eyes tight and let the water drip onto your head. It made me laugh, even though I was huddled in the corner, cold, and washing my hair. You were spoiled rotten.
You snuggled the best, sometimes even better than Dad. You snored like an overweight man with a beer belly. You loved our bed, even though you had three of your own. On the mornings I was off work, you’d hop into Dad’s spot as soon as he vacated it. With your head on his pillow, we’d cuddle close and fall back asleep.
This past year you struggled, and it socked me in the gut. You slowly stopped following me everywhere and instead watched with your eyes. Your steps were slow and unsure. They eventually turned to shuffles. And each time you fell, it brought tears to my eyes. I knew the time was soon, but I still wasn’t prepared.
I’m afraid I let you down. I’m afraid you were scared at the end. I’m afraid you didn’t understand that I was freeing you from the pain. I was not letting you go. Never, ever letting you go.
The house is so, so empty without you. I see you everywhere, my Gus Gus. When Morgan kicks in an unsub’s door on Criminal Minds, I flinch waiting for your bark. But it never comes. All is quiet. I miss doing our nightly routine, even though I sometimes found it tiresome when you were here. I miss giving you a boost into bed. I miss all of you. Your ridiculous shedding. Your copious slobber. Your floppy ears.
The last day you were mine, you broke my heart.
2,380 days. And I adored you for each one.