It was just a dog. She kept repeating the phrase over and over again in her mind to fight back the flood of emotions. Just a dog, she told her mind. Just another dumb dog.
Just thirteen years, that’s all the time she spent with him. Just thirteen years spanning from college, to marriage, to children. Just a dog who took up her whole entire full-sized bed, just a dog who danced with butterflies, and chased snowflakes. She shook her head, trying to shake loose the vivid memories that were flooding her mind.
“Just a dog”, she reminded herself.
The children, her children, stared at her eyes after her husband hung up the phone, they watched her cracking heart as he said the word she was dreading the most. She swallowed hard the lump of death that was forming in her throat, digging her nails into her palms to remind her that she couldn’t react, not in front of the kids.
“Just a dog,” she told herself again.
Just a runt of the litter, worm bag that no one else had wanted. A pup her mother certainly was not happy about her bringing home. Just a runt who turned into a 90 pound Great Dane mix that could no longer fit into her Sunfire. Just a dog who she bought an SUV for, so they could continue their drives into the country, and the trips to agility practices.
“Just a dog, not a human.” She whispered.
Just a mutt who scared off the van full of strangers that had followed her home one night. Just an animal who had always been there when everyone else turned away. Just a dog who now was laying dead, waiting for her to take him away.
13 years, a life longer than ever expected. 13 years, not quite long enough. Just a dog… that everyone loved.
She took a deep breath as she made the turn, she bit her lip to keep it all in. Gripping the wheel tightly as the storms pounded outside her car, taking the dog for his last ride, past the trail they always walked, her and that dog.
Taking him past his favorite park, feeling his phantom breath on her chin, going so slow, so gentle to protect the memory from any harm. Letting it all play out in her head, the movie of her and that dog.
Breathing slow and deep, calculated, counting the hours, the moments, begging the memories to wait until they could be alone.
Until he was home, safe and sound, till the world was asleep, and he was secure under his tree. Just her and her dog, saying soft one-sided goodbyes…
Until we meet again.
You were more than just a dog.