Memories of Our Good Dog

BritneyPicture12.17.11I’ll never forget the day you fell asleep for the last time, surrounded by the four people you had lived with for almost eight years and who had loved you like there was no tomorrow. Saying goodbye to you like that was the last thing our family wanted for you, but it was the right thing under the circumstances, the only way to ensure that you wouldn’t suffer unnecessarily.

You came into our lives a small, innocent puppy full of unconditional affection for your proud, new owners. We couldn’t have been happier to welcome you into our world.

From the beginning to the end, you were our good dog and loyal partner, our little mutt and faithful mate. You were everything we could ask for in a canine companion.

You would never bite anyone, but we still felt safer with you in the house. You may have cowered in the shower stall at the sound of thunder or even just a few scattered raindrops, but you’d bark like a trained watch dog if a stranger was near.

What really got you worked up for some reason was just the sight of any white truck coming down the street or the dogs that accompanied the man in the wheelchair on his daily rounds of the neighborhood. But everyone knew you were as gentle as they come, a sweet, mild-mannered dog just looking for a pat on the back and a little attention.

Our big yard with the chain-link fence around it was the perfect playground for you. It was your land to roam. You had your favorite spots to sit and relax, especially under the sun, but like a sentry on call, you also liked to patrol the grounds as if it were your sole responsibility to keep any unknown visitors at bay. 

Watching you on one of your stalking missions was amusing to say the least. I never worried about the squirrel or bird in your sights. They’d always get away. Your whole body would tighten up in anticipation as you tip-toed ever so gracefully toward your potential prey. You’d eventually make a futile, mad dash in the direction of the little creature, but always a few seconds after he had fled to safety, like he was just toying with you the whole time. You couldn’t hurt a thing.

In the house, you were a quiet girl, never asking much of us at all. Sleeping was your favorite pastime. From your metal crate in the kitchen to your blanket on the living room floor, the rug in the hallway or the one in front of the TV, you certainly didn’t lack for cozy spots to situate yourself. But you were most fond of the couch in the front sun room, which all but had your name on it. This is where you’d take your long dog naps during the day, when all four of us were gone. This is where you’d sit up on your hind legs and stare out the window for hours, taking in the view from the comfort of your own throne.

When you were especially excited, we knew it. Like all dogs do, you’d wag your tail or chew on your bone, but sometimes you’d even utter a long, friendly growl as if you were trying to talk. Then you might lean yourself against one of us or paw at our ankles. You just wanted to be part of the family.

And you were part of the family, such a big part that we now feel broken-hearted and lost without our four-legged friend who we thought would live forever.

Even if we’d been gone for just a few hours, you’d greet us at the door when we returned like we hadn’t seen each other in days. And every night like clockwork, you’d make the long, steep climb upstairs to sleep on the same floor of the house as us. You were as comfortable in our company as we were in yours. You were the dog of our dreams. 

Of course, the sadness we felt in the end, when your hind legs were buckling and it was a big struggle for you to walk, won’t be easy for us to shake. The grief still overwhelms me. But we’ll always remember the joy you brought into our lives. We’ll always have the memories of our good dog, Britney. 

Bob Cargill lives with his wife, Barbara, and sons, Scott and Ben, in Sudbury. The family is deeply grateful to the Sudbury Animal Hospital for their kind, attentive and exceptional care of their good dog, Britney, during her many visits there during the course of her life.

Note: Bob Cargill’s “Memories of Our Good Dog” was initially published in the print edition of the Sudbury Town Crier on Thursday, December 15, 2011. To read the article in the online edition of the Sudbury Town Crier, click here.

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