I Buried My Best Friend

Emmy_DAP_AquarellYesterday, at around 11:20 am, my best friend died. I am 51 years-old, and I have never felt the depth of sorrow I felt as I held her in my arms and she breathed her last.

Emmy, our 13 year-old Weimeraner, had reached the point where quality of life was exhausted. She was, physically, worn out. What made this decision so difficult was that, mentally, she was still so vibrant.

I could see it in her eyes.

When you have a dog that has been a constant companion for 13 years, the eyes are as much a communicator as a wagging tail – or, in her case, stub. Up to the very end, she was with us. She had the desire. She had the heart. She just didn’t have the body.

I told Michelle and my two boys, Griffin and Penn, that it’s certainly okay to grieve, to hurt, to be sorrowful. But, more than anything, it was best to honor her with the memories of 13 years of companionship, faithfulness, and unconditional love.

I remember…

…getting her as a pup and her eyes were white blue. She had gangling legs that hinted she would one day be a big runner, never tiring of pursuing a ball or a boy.

…wherever I went, she was there. We belonged to each other, and she was a faithful, committed friend.

…seeing her trail two boys as they pedaled down the street on their bikes. She wanted to play for sure, but I’m positive she went along to protect.

…her being dog-tired, tongue hanging from the side of her hassling mouth, getting up to go again – chasing another ball DSC_0409or following again the boys who never stopped.

…her sitting behind me, looking over my right shoulder at Griffin and Penn as they pitched to me sitting on a 5 gallon bucket. She was as good an umpire as I’ve ever seen, and when a pitch flew awry, she was off to get it for us. If spitballs were legal, my boys would be masters.

…her waiting intensely in the outfield grass, head down, one leg raised, waiting for me to throw another pitch to Griffin and Penn as they took their swings. Batted balls would fly by her at Mach-speed, and off she would go to fetch the ball and return it to the infield.

…telling some ball players that Emmy could catch a grounder better than any of them. She would sometimes block it with her chest, and sometimes even catch it with her mouth. It was something that hurt when you saw it, yet she never quit, never let the hurt stop her from what she loved doing.

…her looking at us with those same eyes when Michelle brought home a dog sweater for Emmy to wear. Those eyes pleaded with us not to put it on her, but she always consented. Our happiness was more important than the silliness she felt wearing that sweater.

…her chasing the 4-wheeler as we enjoyed a rare ground-covering snow.

…her eating a whole box of rice krispie treats – except for three. They were gently placed on each bed in the house as if to say, “I ate them all, but I saved one for each of you.”

DSC_0403…her jumping excitedly every time into my old, red Chevrolet pick up like we were going somewhere great. She rode in the back seat, in the middle, and she was one of us.

…her sulking whenever we loaded the car with our luggage to go on a trip. She knew we were going somewhere, and she knew she wasn’t.

…her raising the roof with her loud, long bark whenever the doorbell rang or someone knocked on the door.

…her dropping a rock on my foot, then diving into the river behind our house to retrieve it. Her wagging, stubby tail was all we could see as she bobbed and searched the bottom for the rock. And, she did this over and over and over.

…her loving everyone who came into our house.

Emmy was the best dog I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning. She was, simply put, a good dog. Faithful. Protector. Tireless. Committed. Loving. And, she was all those things and more – in spite of me. Whenever I was impatient or scolding, she was faithful. When I’d really messed up my day, she was committed. When I was confused, she was a great listener. Regardless of me, she was…Emmy.

Her Ultimate Accomplishment

Of all the things Emmy was, her greatest feat was being part of the times we all shared together – for 13 years. That’s aDSC_0398 majority of the years my boys have lived, so to them, she has always been family. She was a bond that Michelle and Griffin and Penn and I will always remember and hold in that special place. It was as if she had orchestrated the last 13 years to create unforgettable memories that we will cherish. It is my hope that my boys will tell their children stories of their grandad and grandmother and that special dog.

Perhaps the ultimate way to describe Emmy is the way my friend Mike Lee described her to me in my sorrow – “a grace-gift from God” given to enjoy this life, to make it richer, to be a helper. I agree. As Reverend Maclean said to his sons in the movie “A River Runs Through It”

The Lord has blessed us all today. He’s just been especially good to me.

Amen.

Emmy

12 Comments

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12 responses to “I Buried My Best Friend

  1. M Pearson

    Mark,
    Sorry for your and your family’s loss. Having dedicated, wonderful, loving pets is a great experience, but the most difficult part of it is having to say goodbye.

  2. Jim Dibble

    Well Said my friend!!! I am sorry for your loss. I will never forget the time Casey and I came over to watch a ballgame and Michelle was trying to sleep and she let out an occasional trademark loud bark and you were telling Penn to qiuet her down. She was enjoying the game with us.

  3. Deborah vinson

    so so sorry for your loss i especailly know how u feel. I have been there with my weimers at differnt times. But just so u know there is a litter of pups with some of the same bloodline as emmy avaible right know. They r one of the best breeds of dogs. My Love is with your family during this time. U know the teacher u brought one back to in columbus called me a few years back cause her dog had passed away and she was wanting another with the same blood line but i dont breed, but Brooks got a pick of Litter years ago and he just father these pups. let me know we will make it work i”ll meet u half way. call me 601-248-6481 Love Deb and Wayne

  4. Nancy Releford

    Mark, So sorry for your loss! We too have experienced such great sorrow when we put our beloved Cavalier “scooter” down, just this past Dec. He came to our office every day & greeted our clients coming & going! If Scooter was around they would want to know why. The kids would come in & ask us for his ball so
    he could play catch with them up & down the hallway!
    A famous quote I just love is “Do not cry because it is over, but smile because it happened” I just think of our little man everyday & miss him dearly!

  5. Julie Dibble

    Sorry for your loss, what a wonderful tribute! It brought me to tears! I know you all will miss her tremendously!

  6. pjm

    I have read this blog 3 times and each time I have cried. This was a tear-jerking tribute to Emmy. I feel like one of the family is gone.

  7. “a grace-gift from God” so true and Wayne wept. I know this feeling all too well. May the grace of God continue to bless your family.

  8. Kathy Alford

    What a tribute to a best friend. Only animal lovers can know the grief that comes from losing one.

  9. John Padgett

    I remember every time I came to the house Emmy would run up to greet me and then tear off to grab a rock. Dropping it at my feet she would wait for me to throw it and then tear off after it. Back and forth, back and forth, she never tired of a game of fetch.

  10. Barb Starrett

    How we do understand the pain of ur family. Whit and I thought we might die when we had to put our Zeus down the day before his 12th bday. Phil came out to the house on a Sun aft(…….small town America …would have never made it in a city!).We cried like babies and buried him where I can see his grave from the kitchen window. There’s just something about the love and faithfulness of a pet. God really did create a blessing in them, far beyond what some people can understand or imagine. Ev en though it is one of life’s most painful experiences to lose them, I am thankful to be a person who does understand and has had the blessing of a beloved pet. The memories are precious.
    Love to you all.
    Barb Starrett

  11. Jan Hubbard

    Just had a chance to read about Emmy. Like all the other replys, we have lost several dogs, including our own “Emmy” named “Share”. There is never enough time to tell all our best friends did to please us. Sorry for your loss. God is good even when we loose our best friend.
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. Earl Phillips

    I know exactly how you felt. I had one of those dogs that was a brown lab
    german short hair cross and smarter than me when it came time to hunt. She just knew what to do.

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