Once upon a time, there was a sweet puppy named Winnie. She loved sunshine… the color purple… peanut butter… to take naps…. … to boof and bark… her brothers… her Mom and Dad…. and I loved that baby girl with all of my heart and soul.
I will never forget that day when I walked into the Fayetteville, NC Petsmart where the local dog rescue was hosting an adoption event. There were so many sweet faces… so many puppies that needed a home. I walked through what felt like kennel after kennel of dogs of all ages, shapes, sizes and breeds. I turned the corner and in the back was a pen of about 6 puppies with their Mama. All of the puppies were in a messy, lazy pile of cuteness and that’s when Winnie flashed those sweet, brown puppy eyes at me. The eyes that would ultimately burn a spot into my heart for eternity. I picked up that sweet puppy and she gave me a kiss. I remember her puppy breath… I can still close my eyes and feel her touch now. She snuggled up to me in my arms…. all of her mere 5 pounds… and that’s when I knew that she was going to be my baby girl.
Life with Winnie was never dull! Everyone who ever met her instantly fell in love with her. She could make you laugh… make you smile… make you fall asleep if you sat next to her on the sofa for longer than 5 minutes giving her rubs. She loved to be outside and in her prime could out run the best of us. She always made sure you knew she was there with the plethora of Winnie sounds – grunts, boofs, barks, grumbles and Winnie gestures – the butt bumps, the paw tap, the quick lick, the snuggle and the famous Winnie tail thump. She was a one of a kind hybrid… as I always liked to say, she was a four legged human. She had massively huge ears… short little legs… lots of muscle and a HUGE heart. She would get offended if you called her a dog and loved to sleep under the covers with her front paws over the top of the blanket and her head on my pillow.
Most importantly though…Winnie was one of my best friends and confidants. Both she and her brother Chief were by my side through literally every major event of my adult life. She provided a comfort that goes without words and a love that knew no boundaries. Even when I found out I couldn’t have children, both she and Chief had already filled the roles of child number one and two and will forever be my “first borns”.
I could tell stories about Winnie for hours…days probably. I even feel like this isn’t a fitting tribute or adequate use of my words to tell you about our sweet Winnie. A dear friend – the amazing Jessica – (who is an equally amazing photographer) gave Riche and I one of the greatest gifts…she came to our house one afternoon after we had found out about Winnie’s brain tumor diagnosis and took family pictures. The medications she was on allowed her to feel like a puppy all over again. She was able to play and run and boof and be with our sweet family without the pain of her being sick.
On the day that I knew it was time for me to make the hardest decision of my life, I carried my sweet girl into the backyard. It was a gorgeous, bright, sunny day in September. I held her up (as she did for me so many times) and we sat in her favorite spot in the backyard….listening to the creek behind the house…our heads turned up towards the sun…the heat covering us like a blanket. In that moment, it was just my little girl and me. Like so many times before. I talked to her (a conversation that will always be for us) and she looked at me with those big, brown puppy eyes and that’s when I felt at peace with my decision.
Riche drove us to the emergency vet and I held Winnie in the back seat the entire way. Up until the very end she snuggled against me and mustered all her strength to give us kisses. She was always a tough girl. And like our beginning when she flashed her brown puppy eyes, I held her tight…put her face next to mine…and stared into her brown puppy eyes until the end.
I will never…ever… forget that moment for as long as I live. My heart still breaks for the loss I felt and that’s why I try every day to remember my Winnie – my sweet, tough, loving, spunky, cranky, strong, beautiful, tail thumping, boofing, kissing…precious sweet little angel. I remember all of our moments together and remember that last day…sitting in the sun…just the two of us…and my heart feels stronger and blessed for the time I did have with my best friend.