Not 'just a dog'
It has been exactly one year since we had to say goodbye to our family dog Milo. I adopted him when he was almost three years old. He was a Bordercollie-Aussie mix. During the time he came to us, I didn't have much of a purpose in life. I went to work and was so exhausted afterwards that I slept or stayed on the sofa for the rest of the day. Even though it was often exhausting, Milo gave me a task. I felt guilty for not having enough energy to take care of his behavioral issues or go on more adventures with him. I didn't have enough patience with him when he barked at other dogs and nothing seemed to help. When I was away and didn't take him with me, I always felt like I was letting him down. When I moved out and left him with my parents, it hurt after every visit to leave him behind again, even though I knew living in the city would be too stressful for him. Even after his death, these thoughts came again and again. Should I have done something differently? Why didn't I have more patience with him? Why didn't I spend more time with him?
After reprocessing this with my therapist, I can definitely say that at the time I did my best to give Milo a good life. Not everything was perfect, guaranteed, but he was the center of attention in our family since day one. We all loved him. He improved our communication. Instead of living just our own life, there was a constant that we could talk about. I was happy to come home because I knew Milo would be happy. When I had pneumonia, he was with me the whole time, watching over me. Even away from that, he was an anchor and a reason to get up. For my mental health, he was an absolute blessing and brought meaning to my existence. A furry reason not to give up.
I was always afraid of the moment when I would have to say goodbye. When I think of Milo, tears still fill my eyes. I have the last minutes with him in front of me. How his head was resting on my hand and he was looking at me. I am sure he knew. He knew how close he was to his last breaths. Remembering him, those images come up and leave deep sadness.
Milo. I hope that someday I will think back about you and the joy will prevail because I got to spend 11 years with you. You are a good boy and I miss you every day. I will always love you and hope to see you again someday.