Monday, February 7, 2011

My Sweet Stubby,

I woke up very early today just as I did one month ago today. That morning I was faced with fear and heartache where today I feel only emptiness. I grieve for you each and every day, and I hope that one day I can get past these feelings of despair. My life has not been the same since you left but I know you are safe, well, and living life like you once did.

You were so brave as you knew your time here was ending. You trusted us to make the right decisions and though we know we did, it still hurt so much to make them. I couldn't let you go but I couldn't see you suffer anymore. Your little body tried so hard to stay strong but in the end it was only your strong will that carried you on.

You were only concerned for me as each night you would wish upon a star before going to sleep. "Please watch over my mom and dad when I am gone" is what you would say, not caring about your own wellbeing but being very concerned about ours. You would kiss me goodnight and tell me that everything was going to be okay, but it wasn't.

We stayed with you and held you as we told you how much we loved you. You held onto Tweedles's paw here while reaching for Betty's paw on the other side. Even after you were safely on your journey I couldn't let you go. I wondered then and still do how I am going to live without you.

Losing you has been the hardest thing I've ever had to face. Your time here was so short but I take comfort in knowing that I will see you again one day. It's hard for me to think about the end so I try to focus on the beginning and the middle. Though my favorite memories of you are from last couple of years, the beginning of your life with us was truly the happiest time of my life.

I still remember the day we brought you home like it was yesterday. I couldn't believe how tiny you were, this little pug that we were now parents to. I remember feeling overwhelmed at the enormity of the task we were taking on but knowing that we could and would do it together. Do you remember that day, too? You were the last member of your litter and at first I wasn't so sold on you. You were cute but I didn't think you were the one until I picked you up and you snorted in my face. I turned to Daddy and said "Get the checkbook" because it was all over. You had picked me and I was forever honored to be your mommy. You won the hearts of everyone you met but I never knew on that day that I would be forever changed by your life.

This is one of my favorite pictures of you standing next to Deanne, her giggling profusely at the funny little puggy snorting in her ear. I still remember the car ride home, Drew and Deanne squealing in the back seat while you sat in my lap in the front seat as quiet as a mouse. "I think he's broken" I said to Daddy which made him laugh. "He's not broken, he's just scared" he reminded me gently. We tried to feed you ice cubes to cool you on that hot July day but you just sat there and shook, wondering what was happening to you.

We had no idea what to do with such a little puppy like you. You made yourself right at home from the moment you walked into our house and our hearts. Every place was Stubby's place and soon you settled in with the family that would love you forever. We knew we loved you but never knew you would love us as much as you did.

I would hold you and look at you for hours. You were so perfect and so perfect for me. How could I have gotten so lucky to have such an adorable pug like you? I had waiting for so many years to get a pug and it was fate that brought you to me.

It's funny looking back at these old pictures because I wonder what you were thinking. Plucked from your family at 10 weeks old, you had no idea what kind of house you would end up in. Sometimes you looked so confused and scared but I think you just missed your surroundings as you settled into new ones. Do you remember how that silly little bowl would change colors when we put water in it? It was an oatmeal bowl, not a dog bowl! We were so unprepared for puppy life, weren't we?

Your first day home was filled with such magic and excitement. Every step you took had to be recorded and your small size never ceased to amaze me. I had secretly hoped you would stay small forever but knew in my heart that you would grow into a big, strong man. Oh how right I was but back then you were just a baby.

You tired so easily when you were a baby. I would take you in the yard and sit with you for hours. We would make plans for our future and all the things we would do. I never imagined the day would come when you would have to leave but I promise you I will do all the things you didn't get to do. You are still with me in spirit even though your body is gone and I know you are watching over me, protecting me from harm.

We told ourselves that we wouldn't allow you on the furniture but who could resist such a cute face? All you had to do was look at me and I would melt. There was no resisting Stubby, not by me and not by anyone. You had that power to charm and you used it at will. I never really understood that until I looked back at these pictures.

I know that you remember your huge house, don't you? What were we thinking buying a cage that big? Did we think you would grow into it? Luckily, Daddy was smart enough to place a divider in the cage so that your spot was just the right size. We never did take the divider out because after we moved to our new house we decided you were a big boy and didn't need a cage anymore. Your cage was moved to the basement, never to be used again.

But in the meantime, you tried to eat your way out of your house. I know it must have been lonely to be in there while we were off at work, but it kept you safe and out of harms way. You slept in our bed with us from the first night you were home until the last night of your life. There was no way we could let you sleep in your house or on the floor, so far away from us. You needed us just as much as we needed you.

Your favorite place to sit was always on Daddy's lap. Even though you were Mommy's baby you were Daddy's little guy. He never thought of himself as a little dog guy until you came along. You guys were inseparable and he loved you like only a Daddy could. You were his constant companion, his every thought, and his best friend. He told everyone he met about the work you did as an assisted therapy dog. He was so proud of you and he misses you so much.

If Daddy got home before I did, he would take you outside to wait for me. Daddy and Stubby time, he would call it. You guys would bond and talk guy talk. He would tell you all about his day and you would listen, never questioning or judging, just accepting him as your own. He would ask you about your day and you would tell him how, despite the long list of chores I had left for you, that you didn't get a thing done.

I would pull into the driveway and see my two little guys waiting just for me. Oh how those memories are so fresh in my mind. What did I ever do to deserve this perfect little family of mine? I would rush into your waiting arms and promise to stay by your side forever.

As you started to grow I wondered what you would look like. Would you still be the cutest pug ever? I never really had any doubts and even if you weren't perfect to anyone else you were still perfect to me. Even at the end you were more then I could ever have imagined. You never were a problem, only a joy.

Your first Thanksgiving was such a happy time. You knew it was my favorite holiday and soon it would be yours, too. We celebrated with my family and were thankful for all we had been given. I see the baby gate in the background of his picture but I don't remember why it is there. Did your grandpa not want you running into the bedroom while he was napping? You were ever the curious little pug, looking for a warm body to cuddle up to and love. Grandpa was not in the best of health and didn't realize that your love would cure him of whatever ailed him. If only he had known.

You weren't yet born when my mom died but you stayed right by my side when my dad died. You silently listened to me talk about him and about how amazing he was. You knew I was hurting and your presence comforted me so much. You kissed away my tears as they fell on you. Losing my parents hasn't been as hard as losing you because you were my baby. Were and always will be.

I tried so hard to keep it together your first Christmas but I was missing my dad. You were the best gift to me that season. Thank you for knowing what to do to help me through the dark times. I couldn't have made it through them without you.

Do you remember how I would come home from the beauty salon with my hair straightened and you wouldn't recognize me? "It's me Stubby, your mommy" I would say to you and you would just stand there looking at me so strange. I would walk ever so gently over to you, not wanting to scare you. I would pick you up and as soon as you smelled me the kisses would flow. You smelled me as your own and everything was once again all right in your world.

You loved being in our bed - I mean your bed. You would snuggle under the covers, peeking your eyes out to see who was coming and going. Even though you took up half the bed with your little body, we wouldn't have had it any other way because it was where you belonged. It seems wrong to sleep now that you are gone because there is no warmth from an empty bed. I can still see you sleeping next to me, peacefully dreaming without a care in the world.

Sometimes I held on to you not wanting to ever let you go. I feared for your safety and worried that something terrible might happen to you. You would let me hold you for a short time before jumping down to grab a bone or toy. It was all that jumping that I think led to your eventual back problems. Had I of known then what I know now maybe things would have been different. I can't look back and wonder what if, but I can look back in wonder at you.

All of your friends always commented on your smile. You were such a happy pug, always. Your smile lit up a room and filled my heart with such joy. Even when you weren't smiling on the outside I knew you were smiling on the inside because you were always so happy. Happy to just be with us, never needing anything else.

I don't know why I ever worried about what you would look like when you grew up because you were simply beautiful. You had a face that was always full of expression whether we talked to you or you to us. You understood so many words and would tilt your head this way and that to show your understanding. Even as your body deteriorated and it became hard for you to bend down to eat, you knew a head tilt would bring a smile to my face. Always one to please, you never let me down.

I remember when your chin started to gray. It look so cute and made you look so distinguished. With years of experience behind your eyes you knew that you were becoming a big boy. You may have been a big boy but you'll always be my little boy. Your perch on the arm of the sofa was a show of who was in charm. You were always the king of the casa.

Soon we outgrew our house and decided it was time to buy a bigger one. One that would have lots of room for you to grow into. One that would have a big fenced in yard for you to play in. One that would surrounded you with love all the days of your life. And as our house grew so did you, into the big boy you were meant to be. You loved your new freedom in the house and the only two mistakes you ever had in the house were because we were gone too long. They were our fault, not yours.

You loved being in your backyard. It was your true domain and everyone that entered had to play with you. I know you wanted some brothers and sisters (pugs and humans) to play with but all the neighborhood kids provided you with the fun times you sought. They would ride their bikes past the yard and you would run alongside them, begging them to come inside to play. When they would turn the corner you would run like a maniac across the yard to the other fence, pleading with them to stop and play. Your path across the yard was well worn and even though you couldn't run anymore last summer you still managed to sit in your yard and bark at the kids. It was your yard because we bought this house for you. It was and will always be Stubby's yard.

You had so many friends throughout your life, even before you started blogging. Your best friend Cody, the golden retriever, was really more like your big brother to you. He showed you around the neighborhood when we moved to our new house and he remained your best friend until he left for the Bridge. His cousin T-Bone the bulldog made you laugh because he thought he was a lap dog like you. I know all of you are back together and playing like you used to. Please hug them for me and tell them I miss them.

You didn't like dressing up for Halloween but you always did. Thank you for doing that for me. The kids just loved seeing you in your costumes and even though you never went trick-or-treating, it was tradition for you to hand out candy to everyone who stopped by. Those horns were the bane of my existence for a while and after a couple years I was happy if you just wore your cape. You were the cutest devil dog ever.

I couldn't believe my eyes the first time I saw you in your Frankenpug costume. T-Bone wanted you to wear the same costume he did but you weren't so sold on the idea. If I thought the horns from the devil costume were bad the arms from this costume might have been worse. You couldn't shake them off like you did the horns but you would bump into the walls as you ran to answer the door each Halloween. Daddy bought you a turtle costume last year but you wore your Frankenpug costume one last time. I could tell something was wrong that day but I never really thought it would be your last Halloween. Halloween will never be the same without you. All the kids will be looking for you this year and I don't know how I'm going to tell them that you're gone. Hopefully I will be feeling a little better by then and can remember the good times without crying.

You never really had any clothes until you got older. I don't remember when we bought your lumberjack coat but it fit you so snuggly. This picture has to be at least five years old because that's our old kitchen floor. You were a wee bit overweight then but I didn't realize at the time how bad it was for your health. You wore that coat so much this past winter despite the fact that it hung on you because you had lost so much weight. That coat stills hangs in your command center just like it did a month ago. We haven't removed anything from there except the name tag off your collar. Daddy carries it on his key chain and it sounds like you are running everytime he grabs his keys off his desk.

I will always remember your smiling face and how happy you were no matter what. You never complained even when you didn't get your way. Your smile will live on through the many pictures and memories I have of you. So many of your friends did tribute posts when you left and even though it pained me to read them, I had to because I wanted to know how much they loved you. You touched their lives so much and they will never forget you either. I'm so glad you got to meet some of your blogging friends these past two years and hopefully I will get to meet those that you couldn't meet in person.

I adored you as a baby, fell in love with you as you grew, and cherished you until the end. I cannot say goodbye because it hurts too much. I will say 'see you later' for now because I know you will be waiting for me when it is my turn to leave this Earth. Until then I will be here remembering you and our life together. You can never be replaced because there can only be one Stubby. My Stubby. The Life of Stubby.