They say that a dog is a man’s best friend. And man-o-man, is that ever true!
I had to put my pup down on Friday afternoon. And it’s been a rough few days. But one way I deal with challenging times is through writing.
I want to share a letter I wrote for Sid, my 14.5 year-old Golden Retriever, who brought me such joy, happiness, laughs, and smiles in life. He taught me a lot of life lessons. And most of all, he taught me about unconditional love.
Here is how my letter goes:
It’s only been a few days since Mom and I had to put you down and I already miss you so much. I hated seeing you live the life the way you’ve had to the last month. Accidents in the house, legs giving out, and the cancer metastasizing much bigger than we wanted.
I know you’re up in heaven know and enjoying the “Rainbow Bridge.” It is here that all of your four-legged friends are running around and playing together in one big dog park. All are healthy, vigorous, and energy restored. And there are lots of tennis balls to play with and squirrels and rabbits to chase for fun.
I have had so many great memories with you Sid but I just want to share 10 of them. Imagine that! Here they are:
1. Choosing YOU. Picking you out of your litter way back in 1999 down in Point Loma was a funny experience. You were the runt of the group. I wanted your older brother. Your Mom wanted you. You were getting picked on and just kept coming back for more. You were relentless. Your Mom won out and we went home with YOU. And I am so thankful that SHE chose you. I can’t imagine life if I never had you.
2. You loved the beach. As soon as we would go over that Coronado Bridge and you would smell the salt air, you would just start flipping out. Barking, going in circles, sniffing the air out the window. You knew what was coming. And then how you would tear around that sand at Dog Beach. And go out in that water (regardless of the temperature) for a tennis ball (regardless how far it was). You would not leave the water until you found that darned tennis ball. And I know you loved those baths afterwards too!
3. Tennis balls. Man-o-man did you love tennis balls. It seems you always had at least one in your mouth. The best was that one time at our home in Mission Hills when you were only a pup that we dropped a box of about 50 tennis balls on the floor and you didn’t know what to do with them. You were just dancing and prancing for any and all of them. That was so funny!
4. The screen door. I love the fact that when you were just a pup, you created your own “doggy door” (despite us actually having a doggy door!) by busting a hole through the screen. This allowed you to come and go as you pleased. Your Mom and I left “your” door for years until we actually moved out of that house. We thought it was absolutely hilarious how you would just come and go as you pleased.
5. Fitness Quest 10. You were always up there. Since “we” started our business in year 2000, you helped us paint the place, hang out, greet people, play with people, and even show people about working out. In the beginning, do you remember how it was just you and me sitting up there alone wondering if anyone would ever come in? Man, we’ve seen a lot of changes.
And I loved how you used to sprint from the front of the studio to the back by the bathroom, do an about face, sprint into the Pilates area, and repeat this lap 2 or 3 times when you first entered the “Roots.” The excitement you showed EVERY time you came to work with me was exemplary.
6. The engagement ring. One of my best memories of you all time is the night I was proposing to Melanie and had you show up to The Prado restaurant in Balboa Park with the engagement ring around your neck. To see your Mom’s face when she saw YOU inside of a restaurant just about gave her a heart attack. And then when she saw what you had around your neck, that just about did it. No doubt, one of my top memories, Sid. You made me really proud that night and it was great to have you on my “team” to assist in that occasion.
7. And then came kids. First, it was Luke in 2002. Then Brady in 2005. Then McKenna in 2008. I know you didn’t like going from the spoiled, only-child to having to take a “back-seat” in some ways. In my book, you never played second-fiddle though. You were always my “first-born” and I always loved how you accepted your role with dignity, pride, grace, and loyalty for the family.
8. Surgeries. First, it was a blown-out knee. Then it was stomach surgery for eating something behind Fitness Quest 10 that you shouldn’t have. We later found out it was a plastic bag that probably had some Chinese food in it. And then surgery to remove cancer in 2010. We thought you had a few months after that one. And you made it 3.5 more years. Incredible.
9. Playing “Find Daddy.” That game was hilarious. I would go hide anywhere in the house and then you would come frantically searching for me. You would be sprinting, crying, and furiously searching for me as I would be saying “Find Daddy….Find Daddy.” And then to feel those licks on my face and the pure excitement when you found me. Man, I’m going to miss that game… and the licks!
10. Your tricks. You learned how to roll over and “play dead”, how to put a treat on your nose and wait until command and flick it up and catch it (thank you Bob Hill!), and you learned how to “get massage.” I used to love that when you would just roll over on your back and wait for your massage.
AND THEN SOME. I had to offer one more because that’s the kind of dog you were.
11. Just you being YOU. You taught me a lot about life Sid. As a matter of fact, many of the things in the poem “All I really need to know I learned from my dog” sums it up:
- Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
- Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
- When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
- Take naps and stretch before rising.
- Run, romp, and play daily.
- Be loyal.
- Never pretend to be something you’re not.
- Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
- If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
- When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
- Thrive on affection and let people touch you – enjoy back rubs and pats on your neck.
- When you leave your yard, make it an adventure.
- Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
- No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout – run right back and make friends.
- Bond with your pack.
- On cold nights, curl up in front of a crackling fire.
- When you’re excited, speak up.
- When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
- Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
I could go on and on.
But I will say this. Sid, you brought our ENTIRE family so much love and joy. And when I say family, I mean your immediate family and our Fitness Quest 10 family. You have truly “impacted” so many people by simply putting a smile on people’s faces.
I’m going to miss your smell. I’m going to miss you sitting at my feet as I type away at night after the kids go to bed. I’m going to miss your presence in the garage during my 5:30 am workouts. I’m going to miss your licks after a sweaty workout. I’m going to miss you waggin’ your tail when I come home at night or when I would pet you in the morning. I’m going to miss your intense loyalty and unconditional love. I’m going to miss your spirit.
Most of all, I will just miss YOU being YOU. Thank you Sid for bringing such JOY and LOVE to so many lives for 14.5 years. And thank you for leaving such an “Impact” on me. You lived one helluva life. And I’m proud to call you DAD… forever.