In my ongoing efforts to get my house organized, I was going through a box of old pictures the other day. I ran across a particular one that made me sit there on the floor and weep a little. It was one of Wolfie at Christmas-time. Who was Wolfie? He was my beloved Maltese "fuzzy snow puff" who died four years ago.

We knew if was time to let him go earlier in the year. He clearly didn’t feel good and had dementia. It was my selfishness and awkwardness stopping me from making the call to set him free. I knew that it wasn’t kind to expect him to live another year this way. But there were moments that gave me pause...

...As long as I saw you sniff the cooler air, or lick my hand with a tad more enthusiasm than normal, or seem happy to share a bean burrito from Taco Bell with me, those little joys justified my keeping him here a little longer. Sorry about that, sweet one.

I remember when I first met him.

The lady brought out the tiniest fuzzy snow-puff I'd even seen. She held him under his front legs, facing me, so that as she walked toward me his little paw-arms splayed forward and out, as if ready for a hug. He was tiny and pink and she handed him to me. He was light as a feather. He opened one sleepy eye and and he licked my nose once, then drifted to sleepy-town again.

He was so little I could set him in the bathtub while I got ready for work.  that I could set He'd be in there with his toys and trainer pads and I'd know he was secure. I'd listen to his tiny whisper-barks as he slept.

As he got a little older, he used to make me get up when the alarm went off. I think he hated the alarm more than I did, It would go off, snooze. Again. Snooze. Again. Hit snooze like a frickin’ ninja. Finally, he’d start pressing against me, and every time I moved to hit snooze, he'd move closer and closer, inching me off the bed until I got up. He'd stretch and stand and BAR-ROO-ROO at me.

How many “every days” did I walk in the door to his wagging tail and excitement over what the evening would bring? How many dumb movies, unhealthy snacks, and games of “bark at hand under the covers” and how many “BAR-ROO-ROO’s” did he sing? So many. So many moments. I miss you, buddy.

He loved Christmas. He also loved my Mom so much. He loved bits of Taco Bell bean burritos. He loved love. *sigh*

Dear Wolfie:

Thank you for your unconditional affection during those sixteen years, in both my happy moments and in some of the loneliest and darkest days I experienced. No matter how the world seemed to crumble around me, you laid ever closer by my side. When life was utterly beautiful, you wagged and shared the joy.  

All of those days you gave and loved and shared, until your own dark days began. Your eyes began to darken and your hearing faltered, but you never complained. Your joints ached and you no longer ran or jumped on the couch. Finally, you just became so-very-tired. You needed us to carry you and sit you in the grass each time. Your baths needed to become more regular. You simply wanted to have a bit of something good to eat, and then lay down and rest. Well-deserved rest.

But in your sleep, just like when you were a puppy, I’d watch you dream–-you’d whisper-bark, your legs would kick, and I’d imagine you were somewhere having the time of your life.

And then you’d wake up and slowly stand, ready to give the day the best you had. You just kept going as best you could. I could tell it began to be harder for you to be awake than it was being asleep. The dreams had become your happier reality–and so sweet Wolfie, you were finally set free. 

I still miss you so much. Always will. I hope you're somewhere wonderful. 

Merry Christmas, Wolfie. I will always love you.

 

Wolfgang “Wolfie”  1999 – 2015