The only thing a dog ever asks for in return...
Here we are again, saying goodbye to one of our four legged babies. While it feels so much the same, it also feels entirely different. Although it hurts more than I ever thought it would, I am doing what I know- and that's writing down how I feel.
We adopted you at five years old; a retired TSA drug sniffer from LaGuardia Airport. You had failed out of bomb school prior (and are still spooked by any buzzing, beeping or loud noise), but graduated from Lackland Air Force base in Texas with a nose for serious work and a file of rusty commands no longer needed for your new life on the water. They named you Fanning, after the 9/11 fallen Chief and FDNY hero John Fanning. We called you “Fanny,” or “Fan Man” for short.
Your first day home, I was certain you had never seen a backyard like ours, let alone a wide river to swim in. The moment you saw a break, you leaped into and then back out of the pool, ran down the dock and launched off into the river to swim as far away as your legs would take you. Daddy had to go get you on the paddle board- as you would have never stopped swimming! I was entirely overwhelmed and exclaimed, "we can't do this!" I felt you were overly rambunctious, and would cause too much inconvenience. He said to give it time, and I am so glad we did. Soon enough, you found your place in our pack, and into our hearts.
You had a nose for all things- that's for sure! One day I came home to a mess of baking flour scattered all about the house; you and our two other pups all looking to each other as if to blame one another for the mishap. Another instance I had just returned home from the grocery store, and came inside (after retrieving a few more bags) to find an entire rotisserie chicken (bones and all) eaten off the counter. You would take canned green beans, vitamin bottles, and any other treasure you could find back to your bed for hiding. Nothing was safe from your curiosity! Things would come up missing and we always knew just where to look. Our wedding day was no exception; you and your two brothers had your bow ties ready for wearing and coats groomed perfectly, but unfortunately you would miss out on all the fun. The night prior to the big nuptials you had confiscated a bag of chocolate and became very ill, only to be left at home on careful watch and bed rest! However one of my favorite recollections now looking back, was you getting out of the yard only to be found down the street at the Donut shop. Such a piggy!
Your favorite activity by far was swimming. Anything to stay wet- unless it was a bath! You never liked be shampooed or hosed off. Your older brother Murphy would show you how to chase fish on the sandbar. It didn't seem as though you ever quite caught on to the game, but sure enjoyed pretending like you did. I always wondered what you would have done if you actually stumbled across one? It would have most likely scared you more than any fish, that's for sure! You kept Murphy young, and you let our Pomeranian Mickey believe he was boss (all 10lbs of him). I am so thankful for that. You had a family to finally call yours, and you fit right in as our silly, gentle spirit.
You weren't ever very athletic, tripping over the smallest things. We would all get a good giggle at your goofiness, stumbling over your own feet. Perhaps your proudest moments- welcoming two baby sisters into the mix. You taught Dakota how to clap, as you raced around the pool jumping in and out and performing for her cheers and laughter! You would wander down to her nursery to check on her and lounging nearby to snag a bite of any dropped food. Although your bond was close, your relationship with our littlest (Wyatt) grew even stronger. Every morning she would look for you to say "hello," and after learning to walk, quickly tailed behind you to give you kisses and pats on your butt.
You have taught me so much... how to not sweat the small stuff, to love, to accept, how to forgive, how to be truly present. You have taught me patience, unselfishness, and how to have fun in this life. Seeing you this way has reminded me of what's important, and of just how precious our time here is together. In a blink it seems, things are different.
I'll miss you barking at the door when I pull into the driveway. I will miss shooing you out from beneath the girls high chairs. I will miss riding on the boat together and seeing you snoop around the girl's play room for leftover, miscellaneous crumbs. I will miss seeing the girls climb on you, chasing your tail, and laughing together. I will miss dressing you up for holidays and having you in our pack. I will miss your curiosity, your goofiness, and your warm gentleness.
What a gift to be sober and present for you. What a blessing it is to be able to talk with my girls about what is going on, to be able to walk through this process alongside them. It's amazing how children help us heal. I am so thankful for these last few days to spend with you, to have time together to nuzzle up, look into your eyes and share with you my utmost appreciation. And while my heart aches, my mind races, and my stomach turns full of anxiety and disbelief- I know what I have to do. I know what you are asking for.
Today, I will show up for you. I will hold you tight and thank you for the lessons and joy you have brought my family. I will kiss your sweet nose and remind you of your brothers who are waiting for you on the other side. And as you take your last breath, I will give you the only thing you have ever asked for in return... the same comfort and love you have given us our entire journey together. I will be there for you as we all embrace the last few moments here with you on Earth.