Remembering Alfred

On Tuesday Feb 16th I lost my best furry friend. Knowing, deeply and completely, that it was kinder to put down a 16-year-old dog with cancer doesn’t reduce the hurt. Knowing pain and suffering was the majority of what was left, doesn’t lessen the sadness that grips the throat and blurs the eyes when looking at his empty bed. Even writing cathartic words doesn’t help… yet.

He’s been my sidekick, my companion, my nap-mate, my support and my friend for 16 years. His face always brought a smile to mine no matter how foul my mood or anguished my emotions. He was there through divorces, family losses, job losses and more with the type of empathy only dogs possess. Instinctively he knew when a lick to the face and a cuddle was needed. It is the cruelest twist of fates that now is when I need it the most.

He was also there for all of the highs and we, his adopted sister Sadie and I, celebrated every good thing with steak and eggs and belly rubs and whiskey (for me) – this included random, made-up, good-dog holidays. He loved car rides, chasing away squirrels and crows, movie-time cuddles, all of his human friends – which he made everywhere he went, scrambled eggs, long walks, sleeping in the sun, the mountains and Sadie. Empathetic, loving, happy and courageous, he once chased a full-grown bear away from the house – no joke.

When we first moved to California we were living in the Monrovia mountains. The only thing really separating our entrance from the main stairs where we lived was a flimsy $2 bamboo gate. A bear came up the stairs to the gate and Alfred pushed through and he and Sadie chased it down the stairs and down the hill. I caught them both and came face-to-face with the bear at the edge of the trees and even though I had them by their scruffs Alfred kept barking and trying to charge while being suspended in the air. The bear decided it didn’t want anything to do with this yelling human and his overconfident schnauzer and turned tail into the woods.

I’m glad he got to have one more winter where he could play in the snow and lick up freshly fallen frozen fluff; one of his favorite things to do. I just wish I could have gotten one more spring and summer with him. The warmer days are when I’ll miss my lazy-day balcony companion the most. A relaxing afternoon in the summer warmth, doing nothing much at all, with him snoring by my side was one of the best ways to spend time and the ultimate stress reliever.

I’m not looking for your sympathy, but this post is selfish. It’s something I need to do to celebrate someone who meant so much to me that I’m writing all of this through a blur of tears and with a heart that’s actively breaking into smaller and smaller particles. I’m hoping that getting all of this out and opening up a part of me on a platform that only gets to see one side might help.

I’ve lost a lot of humans in my life, from close friends to family members, but this loss has a particular sting that’s uniquely barbed from a decade and a half of spending every available moment together. If you’ve lost a pet that’s more family, than an animal you happen to own, then you know.

You know how there’s a hole in your world, the way nothing feels right and the horrible silence that emanates from toys, blankets and beds. You know how every movement feels wrong and how the morning feels like an impossible task without that wagging tail. You also know how time being the only antidote feels like a curse.

We’ll return to our regularly scheduled whiskey talk once the drams stop tasting so damn salty.

I miss you so much my friend.

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