Today I came across this tribute I wrote when I had to put my fifteen-year-old dog to sleep several years ago. I’ve never published it anywhere, because at the time, “Blogs” were still for the ultra geeks. Now I can share Fenway with everyone.
A Tribute to Fenway
You came into my life one spring afternoon. You were only six months old. I spent an entire week with you and fell instantly in love. When I left at the end of that week, you ran to the room where I had stayed to see if I was still there. You did this for several days.
By the time summer rolled around, you and I became roommates. I loved you with all of my heart and I even let you sleep with me sometimes. Our status as roommates was short—only six weeks. But the foundation for our friendship had been cemented and nothing would ever shake it.
I finished my final year in college with you by my side. You slept with me every night. When we moved to Boston, my car was so packed full that you had to ride on top of everything in the back seat. You had a good view of the road as we hurtled down the highway for seventeen hours. When we got to Boston, you were the only friend I had. I spent a lonely birthday that year with only you for company. I was so glad not to be alone!
You used to sit on the back of the couch and look out the window…watching the world go by. When I came home you would jump up so high over and over again because you were so excited to see me. It probably seemed like years since I had left when it was only hours.
Then my life took a strange twist. You moved to Los Angeles. I was alone for about three months, during which time I moved to Washington DC. Then I got the call: you had to come back to live with me. Your new living arrangements were not working out. You didn’t like LA and I was lonely, yet again, in a strange new city with no friends. So we became roommates again.
This time, it was official. Never again would we not be together. We were best friends and best friends are together no matter what. That was us.
But Washington DC wasn’t good for either of us. We were poor. Dirt poor. After the bills had all been paid, I had to go without so you would not go hungry. I was so lonely. I had very little social life, except what you and I did together. Then the last straw fell.
I met someone new and I let him mess with my mind. He tried to tell me you were not good for me. He tried to tell me I should let you go. I was so confused and brainwashed I actually gave it a few moments of thought. But then a co-worker came to me and told me she had done the same thing for a guy. And as she stood at my desk crying, she didn’t have to say another word. Her regret was clearly evident. How could I ever let my best friend go? I decided then and there…no way.
He eventually was gone from our lives, even though you tried your best to get to know him and tried your best to be his friend too. He was jealous of our friendship and I could not make him understand how important you were to me. So instead of letting you go, I let him go. And it was the best decision I ever made.
After that, we moved back to live with mom and dad in Florida. What a change! We had been on our own for three years and suddenly, at age 25, we were living at home again. I was still in a confused state of mind, thanks to you-know-who, so I let myself get washed along into yet another not so noteworthy relationship. This one didn’t last long. So after a just a couple months in Florida, I was finally getting my feet on solid ground.
And then came the phone call. A job offer. Atlanta. We had been in Florida for nine months and we were ready to get back out on our own. So we moved to Atlanta. It was so great to have you with me. How many cities had I moved to where I had no friends but you? Too many to count. You were the constant in my ever-changing life. You never criticized me or judged me when I was making stupid decisions. You never held it against me that I had considered letting you go. You loved me as I was and that was enough for you.
Our first day in Atlanta was the first day of the rest of our lives. Appropriately, we started out there on January 1. And our lives were never the same. This time, I met THE someone. The someone I would cherish the rest of my days. You liked him immediately. He was very tolerant of your outgoing and vivacious nature and he helped me introduce you to other friends. We had fun together, the three of us. He even invited you over to stay one weekend when I was gone. I knew it was meant to last.
After a while, though, he decided to move to Chicago. He didn’t ask me to go with him, and I didn’t offer to follow him. We did the long-distance-thing for twelve very long months. And again, you were there. Steady. Unchanging. Always happy to see me. Always greeting me with love and affection. Job changes, apartment changes, friend changes…you were there for me through it all.
Then the happy day came…he wanted to marry me! We decided we would all live together in Chicago. You liked Chicago, except for the really cold days. But you loved to swim in the lake and you loved it when we all went for long walks. It was lots of fun to be there.
After two years, though, we decided to move back to Florida. We wanted to be close to family. And we moved to Orlando. We rented our first house and you loved it there. Warm weather all the time. Playing ball outside in the back yard with him. And best of all…a swimming pool! Then your world changed forever.
A new friend moved into the house, and he was loud, wild, crazy, hyper, and he never could seem to find the bathroom when he needed it. He ate all of your food without asking and always wanted to sleep in your bed. You were not happy with us. Eventually, you became friends, although you never let him forget who was in charge. It didn’t matter that he was three times as big as you. You ruled our home.
We soon bought a house with the biggest yard you had ever seen. And the pool was wonderful. You finally got used to jumping and you and our new friend would fight over who got to get the Frisbee first.
But life was not done with its surprises. You thought things couldn’t get much worse than him, when not one, but TWO children came into our lives. One cried all the time and the other, well, she cried a lot too. You wanted them to stay away from you and you let them know in no uncertain terms that they were to keep out of your space.
We finally moved (again) into what would be your last home. We were all so happy there. The children actually were not so bad after all. They were fun to be around and they gave you all their leftovers when they didn’t want to eat anymore. The wild hyper friend was also fun to have around. It was fun to watch you chase him through the house and try to take his toys away. He always lost in the chases and take-away games. I was so proud to see you kicking some male butt.
You weren’t too crazy about the cat, but you just ignored him. He wasn’t worth your time and you really were never into cats anyway.
But then the bad times started. You slowed down. Life was catching up with you. You got very sick and had to go on heart medication. Every single day, two times a day, you had to force that pill down your throat. And then the coughing started. Your lungs were filling up with fluid. Your heart could not keep up with the blood and your whole system began to stop working.
And then I made the most difficult decision of my life. I knew it was time to let you go. You were not very happy. You didn’t sleep well. You wanted to run and play and hang out with us and go for long walks, but you just couldn’t. And sometimes it hurt to breathe. I avoided making the decision as long as I could. Then one day it became very clear to me…I couldn’t avoid it any longer. Not if I wanted your suffering to end. How could I let you go on this way when it sometimes hurt you to walk and to breathe and going up and down the stairs was painful?
I called the doctor and made an appointment. I stayed with you until the very end. You were tired and you lay on the table. I cried and cried. I am not sure what was going through your mind, but you just let me hold you. You were so warm and soft. You looked at me with those same eyes you had always seen me with. You loved me no matter what. You trusted me.
The doctor gave you the medicine that would shut the world out forever. And when he listened to your heart as it slowed and finally stopped, he told me you were gone. I cried. No, I sobbed. It was the most painful experience I had ever endured. I lay across you and held you in my arms and cried for ten solid minutes. I thanked you for the most wonderful 15 years of life. I felt I could not give you a fitting tribute, but I decided to sit down and write this letter.
Thank you, Fenway:
for the licks in the face, even when I didn’t want them
for drying my tears when they flowed down my face
for always being happy to see me, even when you could only wag your tail in greeting
for protecting me from danger
for chasing away the boogeymen and unseen things that came our way
for letting me love on you like a doll baby
for sleeping with me every night
for the smiles you gave me when I woke up to your face on the pillow next to mine
for the things you did that made you more human than dog
for drinking the beer so I didn’t have to
for the pure joy of knowing I would always have someone who loved me unconditionally
for the fun of watching you swim in a pool or in the lake and chase anything thrown in
for chasing a 110-pound dog around and keeping him in his place
for all the cute pictures you let me take
for the memories everyone in our family will always have of you.
Fifteen years is a long time. Almost half my life was spent with you. I will never, ever forget your sweet face or your quirky personality. I will never forget the times we had together. Thank you for a lifetime of love, friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, and pure and simple joy.
Fenway, you truly were my best friend.