This is the third time I’ve written a post with a very similar title and it will be the last. Two years ago I penned the post after losing the first of my three rescued pups, Cody who passed away at the age of 14. Last year I wrote the second part after losing Moya, age 16. And today I share this final update after saying goodbye to my sweet baby Preston over the weekend, also age 16.
As the owner of three dogs, intellectually I knew this day would come but the emotional side is much harder than I ever imagined. It’s too easy though to lapse into anger and depression, to be angry at a world that would take away one of my last pure joys from me – so I won’t. Instead, I want to share a brief narrative that has meant a lot to me in recent years as well share how my dogs made me a much better human being than I would have otherwise been. But first, a little more about Preston.
Baby, Peanut, P-Dawg – like many dog owners I had many nicknames for my pups, but his proper name was Preston. He was the third pup added to my furry family, rescued from a high-kill shelter in Pennsylvania when he was just four months old. He admittedly had a rocky start, my other two rescued dogs didn’t take to him at first but, before long, the three became a very tight pack. Preston was always my baby though and I treated him as if he was that 20-pound four-month old throughout his life, even when he was 70 pounds and a lot to handle. He was my muse, he was my furry son and he was the pup with whom I bonded the most. Losing his pals though was hard on him and the last year was an adjustment as we both learned how to trudge on with fewer souls in the house. Now that he’s gone I once again have to figure that out, but this time without his tenderhearted help.
Just a Dog
From time to time people tell me, “Lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “That’s a lot of money for just a dog.”
They don’t understand the distance traveled, time spent, or costs involved for “Just a dog.” Some of my proudest moments have come about with “Just a dog.” Many hours have passed with my only company being “Just a dog,” and not once have I felt slighted. Some of my saddest moments were brought about by “Just a dog.” In those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “Just a dog” provided comfort and purpose to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it’s “Just a dog,” you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.” “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person. Because of “Just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future.
For me and folks like me, it’s not “Just a dog.” It’s an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that someday people can understand it’s not “Just the dog.” It’s the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “Just a man” or “Just a woman.”
So the next time you hear the phrase “Just a dog,” smile, because they “just don’t understand.”
– Author Unknown
Dog Lesson #42 – Kindness Will Always Be Returned
Truman once said that if you want a friend in Washington, then get a dog. That’s true anywhere of course, these lovable canines give more love than we could ever return without even an inkling of an ulterior motive. It’s just their nature to give love, but they also certainly appreciate it when it’s returned back to them. This amazing experience happens all the time, no matter where in the world we may be. It doesn’t cost us anything to be nice, to do simple gestures of kindness for others and most times that kindness is returned to us many times over. The chance to extend a hand in aid or provide a shoulder in comfort arises when least expected and creates a bond not only between people but cultures as well. This act of kindness though is certainly not one sided, as you too will find that hand or shoulder from a stranger when you least expect it, but most need it.
Thank you all for this brief diversion from my normal posts. This has been a body blow, no doubt there, but even just writing this has helped me more than I ever thought possible and for that I am grateful.
In Memoriam: Preston 2004-2020
3 thoughts on “No, Not Just a Dog – Saying a Final Goodbye”
I am so sorry to hear about Preston, Matt. Dogs are truly our best friends. They are the best and a dog passing hurts like nothing else. It’s great to know that Preston is in doggie heaven with the rest of his pack now though. Continue to stay well – as well as you can during this time.
So very sorry for your loss. We have had to put down our last two dogs and it was so, so hard (and we have three kids!). How great that you rescued them and gave them a wonderful home and so much love! Prayers for peace for you!
I’m so sorry to read about the loss of your beloved friend. No-one I know would ever dare say “just a dog” to anyone. This might strike you as uncool – but I wondered if youI’d say rescue another one. What?! Am I crazy?! Actually, this is from experience. I had a rescue cat a few years ago (Leela) who was hit by a car (and killed). I cried for like two weeks and then I went back to the shelter and got another cat. Basically I just figured that I had a home to offer an animal that might not have a home otherwise. And also I wanted a cat, and *my* cat was dead. So I thought about appropriate mourning periods and no-one ever being able to take Leela’s place, and also the fact that my house was now void of an animal, and I took in another cat. Six years ago. She (Lydia) is sitting on my desk as I write this. I just mention that because your post sort of implied you wouldn’t be getting another dog – “the last time I’ll write this” – and I thought a new friend might actually be a help, especially if you’re “staying in place” or whatever you call it in the US. (I am in South Africa).
Anyway, that was a ramble and I hope not inappropriate. What I really wanted to say was I’m sorry, and Preston was a beautiful fellow. RIP.