I didn’t think it was going to be this hard. I mean the days after. I knew the “day of” would be hard. And it was. But the days after are killers. Honestly, the only reason I’m writing this is because I can’t stop  thinking about her, and for me, writing is a form of therapy. I tried real therapy once and we got a divorce anyway (first wife), so I’m not doing that again.

We see our sweet lil Kate everywhere we look. The empty couch. The sliding door that she would wait patiently at (ok, impatiently) with her sweet little nose pressed against the glass after we let her out to pee. The spot where the hardwood floor still looks new cuz that’s where her water dish was. The center console of my truck where her little face would always be sticking through from the back seat, always looking out the front window as though she was the one driving.

That dog was special. And I know that most everyone feels the same way about their dog, but our dog was the absolute best. Just like you think your dog is the absolute best. Because you know what? ALL dogs are the absolute best.

We got her as a pup when our kids were teenagers and just getting ready to head out of the house and establish lives of their own. So we were about to become empty nesters and she was our new baby. And because this is therapy, I’m also going to tell you something I have never told anyone: I’m pretty sure that dog saved our marriage. The wife and I were going through a real rough spell, but as we drove home from Stratton after picking up that floppy-eared, bug-eyed little pup, and I saw the love in my wife’s eyes and the goodness in her heart as she looked at me with Kate’s face hugged tight against her own, I decided right then and there that I wanted to be with her for the rest of my life.

My wife, not the dog. Well ok, maybe both.

It kind of sucks that Father Time is like this humungous iron ball rolling down a hill, and no matter how much you love life just the way it is right this second, you can’t stop things from changing. Life rolls on, and you just need to deal with it the best you can.

Normally, cleaning the house and throwing things out is kinda fun. Not this time. We’ve cleaned the nose prints off the glass. We scooped all the poop off the lawn. Gave her treats and her toys to my buddy Pete, who still has one of her pups.

We miss you like we never thought we could miss anything in this world. I would give my truck, my house, my camp, and every nickel I have in the bank if you would just come to that front door and stick your cute little nose on the glass one more time. My wife sent me a message today from work that said “Im so incredibly sad, i just don’t know what to do.”

Me neither honey.

But as the days went by, I kind of figured out that there really is only one thing that you actually CAN do. And that is to say, OK, that’s enough being sad, let’s stop thinking about the last day of her life, and start thinking about the reasons dog lovers have dogs in the first place, which is the other 5,612 days of her life (and yes I accounted for leap years when I calculated 5,612).

You know, the days that consisted 100% of that damn dog doing nothing but making us laugh and smile and just want to love her and care for her like she was our very own baby.

Ahhhhhh yes, the good times. Just a few off the top of my head…

Things like hunting with my buddy Pete when Kate was a pup and so obsessed with following the scent of a partridge that she ran right past him while he was taking a leak in the woods. Yup, she ran right through it. (Sorry Kate, I know I swore to you I’d never put that in a column, but you gotta admit, it’s kinda funny)

Sticking her head into the front seat of my truck, with her chin on my wife’s shoulder any time the bag of cheez-its came out.

Knowing our routine so well in the morning that when she heard us pouring coffee into our travel mugs, she would jump off the couch and pretty much block our way out until she got a treat.

Running around with a short piece of rope deliberately tied to her collar whenever we went camping because she had never been, and never would tolerate, per campground rules, being tied to a tree. It’s called plausible deniability. If the park rangers saw her running free we could just tell them she broke her rope. And we did. Many times.

Sitting in a camp chair just like the rest of us around the campfire, looking so human that you expected her to join in on the conversation.

Falling off the tow tube while we were hauling her with the kayaks, not because she liked tubing, but because she couldn’t stand being left at camp alone.

Preparing to give birth to 9 puppies and tearing up the feather bed, leaving our room covered from one wall to the other in white feathers.

Not really caring too much for nursing those nine pups, and half way through feeding them getting up and walking away, with the stronger pups still hanging on under her belly.

When she was little, chomping onto our other dog’s tail and being carried around the house like that, cuz our other dog had no feeling in her tail and for Kate that was just a fun thing to do.

Then there were the camping trips, the hikes up Saddleback and Bald and Aziscohos, the 4 wheeler rides, the walks down our camp road, rides on the snowmobile in my lap, cleaning the grandkids food crumbs off the floor, forcing my wife to sleep curled up in a ball every night for 15 years because Kate liked sleeping on our bed with us…

Well, that’s it.

Actually, that’s not even close to “it”. There’s a billion more times she made us happy, but an article in the Highlander is not permitted to go on forever. Writing this has been good though, better than I thought it would be. It has forced me to do what I had not yet done, which is to think back over Acadia’s entire life and remember the good times. Focus on the 5,612 days of her life that were full of laughter, happiness, hugs, giving her kisses on her big brown nose, and the one thing that all dogs give to all people, their unconditional love.

Thank you for listening. Writing this was really good therapy. And it didn’t cost me a nickel.

Goodbye sweet Kate…

Comments are not available on this story.