There are so many things that will be different now that you are gone; no longer will I be greeted by your big head and your wagging tail when I go to mum and dad’s house; no longer will I be followed into the guest room where you will inevitably sleep on the floor next to me if I had to crash there; and no longer will I fuss about what to buy you for your birthday and for Christmas.
When you looked up at me with pain in your eyes as you took your last breaths on this earth, I have never felt a heartbreak worse than that. You were the love of my life. You are the love of my life. I always said that no matter whom was thrust into my life, they couldn’t compare to you, because no one would ever be as happy to see me as you were. And to see you go to sleep for the final time has completely destroyed me. I knew that you were in pain, and the only thing worse than seeing you fall to a final sleep, would be to see you try to get through every day as your body slowly succumbed to the cancer that had eventually brought an end to your happy, full life.
I still remember when we first got you as a little innocent puppy, and I thought I could get in before everyone else did, and I called you Zelda, even though you were a boy. I even tried to call you Zelda after we had officially named you Inglis Cronk Slater Smith just to see if you’d respond, and you didn’t. You were too clever for my little shenanigans.
And then you grew up, and you were an absolute rascal. I wondered if those flappy ears on that big noggin of yours were just for decoration; you would do things that would irritate us, and you knew it would irritate us, but you’d do it anyway. You would bark at nothing, and I would open the door to tell you to be quiet, and you’d look up at me sheepishly, knowing that you were in trouble. But as soon as that door was shut again, BARK BARK BARK.
I wouldn’t exactly call you the smartest dog in the canine species as well. You wore that participation award at puppy school with pride, probably because you knew deep down that you wouldn’t be as smart as the other dogs. I often compared you to the stereotypical jock of Hollywood high school movies: big, handsome, athletic, and stupid as hell. The permanent look on your face told me “I’m Inglis, I’m hungry, do you like food? Because I like food. My name is Inglis. Did I mention I like food?” I’m glad that of the few things that you retained in that beautiful big head of yours, you learned to do your toilet business outside, as taught to you by my handsome Border Collie x Kelpie, Stumpy.
My favourite thing about you was when you would know if you were in trouble if I used your full name. Inglis Cronk Slater Smith. I said it so many times when I was angry at you that it just slipped off the tongue so effortlessly. But you knew when it was a simple ‘Inglis’, you were in the clear, and you would waltz on over with a smile on your face.
Actually, no. My favourite thing about you was how you would know when I was upset, and you would fight tooth and nail to get to me and lick the tears off my face and give me as many kisses as you possibly could just to show that through all the heartache and pain I may had faced, you still loved me. And that was enough. And it really was. I’m just annoyed it took me a while to see that.
Often when someone refers to someone as “the love of their life”, they go on dates, right? Well, we did that. In the last weeks of your life when I was housesitting to look after you, I would order in food – and not share with you, regardless of that look you gave me – and we would watch movies on Netflix. Remember how much you liked How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? I don’t think you left my side when we watched that. However, you weren’t so keen on Christmas With a View, which I don’t understand, because as your owner, you should’ve adopted my liking for terrible Christmas movies.
Some people may haven’t been as happy to see me as I would’ve liked, but you always were. And when I saw you in the last minutes of your life, and you saw the tears flowing out of my eyes, with your last ounces of energy, you raised your head and licked it away, because you knew that I needed your comfort at that moment more than I’ve ever needed it before.
Whenever I hear Don’t Stop by No Doubt, I won’t think of how it’s one of my favourite all-time songs; it will serve as a reminder of our bond. I remember it so clearly, as if it were yesterday; I held you in my arms, and belted out those Gwen Stefani lyrics, and watched in amusement as you tried to squirm out of my hold as I potentially rendered you partially deaf with my horrible
singing voice squealing.
In your last moments with me, my baby, I could tell you knew what was going to happen. Your eyes were red and sad, because you knew you would be saying farewell to me and to the rest of your family. But we couldn’t let you live like that, my big boy. There was no way we could do that.
But what I wouldn’t give to wake up and see you on the floor next to me, laying on your back with your paws in the air, with your mouth drooping; or to see you look at me sitting on the sofa, and then you would place one paw on the couch, as if to ask me “So can I come up there and sit with you?”; or to just give me those kisses that I needed so much when I felt as broken as I do now. I really need those kisses now, Inglis, but I have to make peace with the fact that I will never get them again.
Rest easy, my beautiful baby boy. Tell Stumpy I miss him, and now I hope you can enjoy all the rope games, and eat all the chocolate guilt free like I do, knowing that it can’t harm you now. You have been the most beautiful, loyal and caring dog, and anyone who has come into contact with you over the years is that much better off having known you.
I love you so much Inglis Cronk Slater Smith, and I will never forget you. You will always hold a special place in my heart.