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  • July 22nd, 2008 | 9:11 PM
Saying goodbye to Chelsie

It was not a coincidence that today's memory challenge was about animals. I have been trying to get up the courage to write this post. I still don't think I have the courage but I need to write it now.

Monday, my 50th birthday, was not spent with cake and ice cream. There was no quiet dinner out at a favorite restaurant. Instead I came home from work early to spend a few last hours with my best four-legged friend Chelsie. Her time had come. And as always is the case, it is too soon for those of us left behind.

Was it only May that I wrote this post about her? I knew then that my time with her was coming to an end. Later in May I posted the sunflower episode. After that she slowed down even more, rarely wanting to move from one of her two favorite spots in the library, one of two corners, each with the safety of a chair for her to hide behind. She was less interested in saying hello in the morning or when I came home from work. She would skip meals for several days. After that it came fast.

Monday afternoon I sat with her for the last time.

I spoke softly and recalled every step of the journey we had taken together over the last 14 years. She came into my life at my absolutely lowest point, when I was living in New Orleans. She would jump up like a kangaroo to greet me each day. As I spoke, I reminded her of the great escape I gave her from the pound. It was a horrible place, filthy and she was covered with so many bugs. She was skin and bones but even then, not interested in food. I talked of the agility classes we had taken together and how much she used to love the tunnel and the poles. I laughed again at how she never met a puddle she didn't want to roll in and how, in her younger years, she believed children and ducks at the park were meant for herding. She and my big orange cat Benjamin were the best of friends. I don't know if she thought she was a cat or if she thought the cat was a dog but the two of them did everything together, including getting into cabinets for their favorite treat, bread. She wasn't food motivated but she did love the scraps of plain tortillas and a spoonful of vanilla ice cream.

In New Orleans life was rough and many a day I didn't want to get out of bed, not even to go to work. But I got out of bed for her. And while I lived in a very scary place and she really wasn't that big of a dog, I felt a little safer with her by my side.

On the trip moving from New Orleans back home to California Chelsie was supposed to ride shot-gun but instead she scooted over as close as she could get, her nose always under the steering wheel. And when I got pulled over for speeding I think it was her goofy clown face that saved me from getting that much-deserved ticket.

She was terrified of most men but once we were in California and she met me soon-to-be husband, she didn't hesitate to give him all the love she had reserved for me. She was content to sleep on the floor on the side of the bed until someone got up in the middle of the night and then she would quickly jump up and claim as much of it as she could. She and Benjamin would sit on the chest in front of the window to watch for me to come home. When she injured her back and had major surgery I had to move the chest and not let her jump anymore. I think she began to die a little bit back then, so much did that girl love to jump.

When Benjamin died she mourned him for months and some of the light went out of her eyes. She would lay in the garage staring at the last place she saw him and my heart hurt for her hurting, missing her buddy.

Monday I knew it was time. I told her to go find Benjamin. That it was okay to leave me now.

A wonderful vet, Dr. Apple, came to our home so we didn't have to subject her to the vet's office. (In recent years she had become so fearful of the vet that she had to be sedated for basic exams.) I worried that she would give me a look of betrayal at the end but instead I saw her finally relax and look more peaceful than I have seen in longer than I want to remember.

This morning when I came downstairs there was no black and white clown face to greet me. When the doorbell rang there was no answering bark to make sure I heard it. My husband went out to get the paper alone. The house is emptier than I could have imagined it would be.

Chelsie was not my first dog nor will she be my last. But she was the dog I needed most for one of the toughest struggles in my life. I was so proud to call her friend.

Goodbye, my friend. Run wild. Run free.
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There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 120 comments — Leave comment )
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July 23rd, 2008 05:42 am (UTC)
Awww :(((
My heart breaks for you and your husband and your dog.

All our love and thoughts tonight, to you and Chelsie, who is at the Rainbow Bridge

((((((((((((YOU)))))))from Meg
and licks and leans from Tucker and Shelby
July 23rd, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you Meg and Tucker and Shelby. I know you know all too well how much this hurts and how I wouldn't trade it for anything.
July 23rd, 2008 05:45 am (UTC)
I am so sorry.
July 23rd, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Lisa.
July 23rd, 2008 06:13 am (UTC)
Hugs, Susan. I'm so sorry for your loss.
July 23rd, 2008 02:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
July 23rd, 2008 07:22 am (UTC)
Oh, honey. I'm so sorry.
July 23rd, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Cindy. I know you know how much this sort of thing hurts, but man, what love they give us while they are here.
July 23rd, 2008 07:24 am (UTC)
What a beautiful tribute to your friend, your family. I'm so sorry for your loss.

"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan....
"The Once Again Prince," Separate Lifetimes, by Irving Townsend "
July 23rd, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Angela. I love the quote you shared. It is just perfect for how I feel right now.
July 23rd, 2008 07:59 am (UTC)
For You and for Chelsie
and for all of your friends here, who hurt when you hurt
I'm crying, damn it
I'm sorry Chelsie had to go but the times of your life together sound like bliss
and in the end, that's what matters most {}

July 23rd, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
Re: For You and for Chelsie
Thank you Pamela. You would have loved my girl and she would have loved you too!
July 23rd, 2008 10:27 am (UTC)
It's never easy to say goodbye to a beloved pet who has meant so much, but it sounds like you gave Chelsie a much-deserved peaceful ending of her life. I wish you happy memories and healing, Susan.
July 23rd, 2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Mary. No, it is never easy to say goodbye to our pets. Thankfully they give so much love that it is easy to open our hearts to new ones to help fill the void.
July 23rd, 2008 10:56 am (UTC)
That was sad and beautiful. I'm sorry for your loss.
July 23rd, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Linda.
July 23rd, 2008 11:04 am (UTC)
July 23rd, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
July 23rd, 2008 11:08 am (UTC)
Oh Susan. I am so sorry. She was such a special friend.
My thoughts are with you.

July 23rd, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
She was. She really was. Thank you.
July 23rd, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
Susan - My heart breaks for you. I know how the love of a dog fills your life. You and Chelsie were so lucky to have found one another. I know her absence here on earth leaves an aching emptiness - but that full and overflowing spot in your heart is there always.

I send a heartfelt hug to you and a smile heaven-ward for Chelsie.

July 23rd, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you Barbara. I know you know how much richer our lives are with our four-legged friends. I was very lucky to have found her when I needed her most. And lucky to have her as long as I did.
July 23rd, 2008 11:18 am (UTC)
My heart goes out to you. But I'm sure of one thing now--there must be puddles in heaven and lots of fields to play in.
July 23rd, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
I love that image of her finding puddles again. Thank you.
July 23rd, 2008 11:33 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry, Susan. Losing a pet is just as hard as losing any family member. Your tribute to Chelsie was lovely.
July 23rd, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Stacy. And yes, it is just as hard.
July 23rd, 2008 11:51 am (UTC)
Oh, sweetie, you had already told me but this made me well up again. I knew you'd had some rough times, but I didn't know Chelsie was the one who got you through them.

Our cat I told you about got my husband through dialysis so it was similar and so, so hard.

I'm sorry.
July 23rd, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
Yes, she was a tough-time buddy and her passing leaves a big hole in my heart. We are already looking for more forever friends but part of my heart will always belong to Chelsie.

I'm so glad your husband had your cat when he needed it most.
July 23rd, 2008 12:07 pm (UTC)
A very beautiful tribute to a very dear friend. She was a wonderful dog. You were lucky to have her and she was lucky to have you. I am so so sorry for your loss.
July 23rd, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you. She was a dear friend and I hope everyone gets the chance to have that kind of an animal friend at least once in their life. I know my life is richer because of the time spent with her.
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( 120 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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