He came into our world four years ago. And when we couldn’t decide between him or his brother, he picked us—his unsteady but enthusiastic legs tumbling and stumbling toward our squealing kids.

The puppy belly, the puppy breath, the sharp puppy teeth…they slayed me. Like they always do. Like they still do. In fact, I feel weak when I think about that crazily picture-perfect Thanksgiving.

He was playful and joyful, and easily the most consistent and predictable member of our entire household. He wanted to fetch; he wanted his ears scratched. Every single day. And that is all.

He was gorgeous, so perfect a specimen that strangers often stopped in their tracks to admire him. He loved a ball like he loved oxygen…more than a bone, more than food, more than hugs. He could play for hours.

I nurtured him the only way you nurture an energetic dog: I tried to keep up. I threw a lot of balls. When we hit the park, he was my fourth child in tow. His manners were not impeccable, but extremely close. We spent countless weekend mornings at the nearby track, playing fetch as the kids ran or rode circles around us.

During a year when I’ve been seeking signs of grace in every breeze, every star, every song…his sudden and unexpected death feels like a particularly cruel Screw You. The void he left hurts like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and trust me when I say that grief and I are on familiar terms. I am looking at his photos often, willing my heart to remember not my pain, but his beauty and his light. He overflowed with it.

For those of you who are not dog lovers, or even pet lovers, you may not understand this and that’s ok. But I am someone who willingly gives her heart over to the creatures in my life. I believe in the power of a good pet like I believe in the power of a good long breath.

They are essential and healing. And when they are gone, it feels like you will never breathe easily again.

I am missing you, my Winston. Love you tons.

Comments

  1. We feel your sorrow that you so beautifully & gracefully pen! You are so very gracious all the time-I believe the desire of your heart has been answered & is very evident during these stressful times.

  2. I am so very sad for you. I remember Winston’s arrival, because it was right around the time we got Smooch and Barkis. Boy oh Boy, I can’t imagine life without them, as I am sure it is hard for you to do so without Winston. I am sad sad sad. You are in my prayers during this grief striken time. It doesn’t seem like it sets things straight, or in perspective, it just hurts.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss. Hang in there. Love abounds. And I’m sure he’s surrounded by it as well, wherever he now rests. Hugs.

  4. Oh, no! I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. Know that we understand its force on your heart (especially at this time in your life). I can only hope that if each of us takes on a tiny bit of your grief that you will feel less pain.

    All hail Winston, an angel among dogs.

  5. I have never felt emotional pain so physically as I did when my dog, Emily, died. Her powers are unimaginable. Her successor, nothing like her in any way, is proving to have his own powers, similar but very different right now. This year my Christmas card featured pictures of both of them though I know only a few people will really understand why. I am so sorry that he’s gone. As is tradition in my house there will be extra treats for all my beloved crazies in Winston’s honor tonight.

  6. I saw Roxanne’s post about this and had to stop by and read about Winston, what a gorgeous boy.

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I just lost one of my cats two weeks ago and the pain is just unbearable.

    Sending you comforthing thoughts and lots of support.

  7. That second photo is how I will always remember him. On the good days, when the weather was real nice, and I’d stand with the wind behind me…I’d chuck the ball at just the right angle and it would go soooo far. He’d would have already taken off of course, and I’d see him, and worry for a minute that he might just grab the ball and keep running. But he’d always do a long, wide turn, perfectly rounded, and then I’d see him running towards me. Knowing I was there and would throw it again. We really trusted each other in that way. I will keep throwing the balls if he comes back. It was a simple arrangement but it worked for us.

    I am missing him, too.

    • Oh Adrienne, that’s my favorite shot too. That wide, rounded turn…of course you can visualize it just like I can. He was totally in his element. He loved the times he got to play or stay with you. What a dear friend you were to him. Thank you for everything.

  8. Sending prayers to you and your family. So sorry for your loss. It’s hard enough to lose any family member, but to lose one so young. RIP Winston and run free with my angels at the Bridge.
    Mom to 5 rescues and 6 angels.

  9. We played with the wonderful litter of nine over Thanksgiving….Doodlebug helping me decide which puppy to choose. The males were in solid color collars….Rojo(Red), Hank(Green) & Winston(Blue)….the females in multi colors…Paise(Paisley), Rose(Roses), Dots(Dots) and I forget the others.
    I choose Dots even though I had planned to get a male. The Austin crew came to a tearful decision, “We just can’t handle a puppy right now.”

    We went to bed with the eight remaining puppies heading back home very early. I set the alarm and got up to make some coffee and found Post It notes every where. “We want Winston….wake us up!”
    The next morning I told Doodlebug I was going to rename Dots….Zee Zee.

    Never argue with a four year old that is smarter than you are…..”But you can’t….her name is Dots.”
    “…..but I want to name her Zee Zee….I already have the tags made.”
    “Her name is Dots!”
    “…..but I really like the Z sound.”
    “Her name is Dots!”
    “…..OK but when you get home you will pick out a name for your dog.”
    “We picked Winston….that’s his name.”
    I was at wit’s end when out of the blue……”Pop, Maybe you could call her Dot Z….that would be OK.”

    Dot Z and I will always remember Winston. What a great friend he was to those that I treasure so much.
    Pop

  10. Oh how sad! I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My heart goes out to you & your entire family because pets are such a big part of your every day life :-( I wish I had magic words to help with this process.
    Hugs!!!
    Sally

  11. Soooo very sorry for your loss, and for the hole that Winston’s absence leaves behind in your family, your weekends, your adventures, your hearts. For the kids this is a beautiful story that helps make a little sense of it all:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Heaven-Cynthia-Rylant/dp/0590417010
    It starts with “When dogs go to heaven, they don’t need wings because God knows that dogs love running best.” It may bring a little lightness to this heavy time. Warm Wishes to you all.

    • Thank you Gisela. And yes, we have that wonderful book. That line is my favorite as well (and so fitting for Winston). My kids like that the dog biscuits are shaped like ham sandwiches and squirrels. :)

  12. What a frank and open gaze he has in that last photo.

    And this is a fittingly beautiful tribute for a departed fellow. Thank you for sharing such an engaging portrait of your friend..

  13. I have the fondest memories of coming through the front door and being met with a kitchen full of fruit, the sound of kids (Oh how I love that sound!) and Zoe and Winston staring through the back door, wagging their tails to say, “Pick me, pick me!” I will miss Winston’s great big perfect head resting on my knee, and his paw on my knee reminding me not to stop touching him. When I moved, he moved. Always touching. Always smiling. So much love radiating off of him like the sun. Of course, even though I tried in secret, he was too obedient to ever get on the couch and snuggle with me! Winston always made the “Princess” Gracie and Bubba feel welcome. I know that good ole Bubba is turning over trash cans for his polite cousin Winston and they will play and chase balls forever together.

  14. I couldn’t comment on this for the longest time because it was just too hard. Four years? Just doesn’t seem fair at all.
    Hugging my furry baby tighter, even though she certainly does NOT have impeccable manners.
    So sorry for your loss.

Leave a Reply