Grief is all worth the love of a dog

A tribute to a loyal and loving canine companion

Twelve years ago, I met my best friend and the love of my life at a home in Sherwood Park. He jumped on me, spun in a circle, and sat down, his dark brown eyes staring up at me in anticipation. His tail wagged so hard that his whole body wagged with it. It was love at first sight. He came home with me that night and we spent nearly every day for the next 12 years together.

We did everything together. We took a road trip to Quebec City, had light saber fights, naps in the park, and cuddles on the couch. We took long walks through the river valley. He loved everyone we met and they, in turn, loved him. 

He was there with me when I left my fiancé of six-and-a-half years. He comforted me as I worked to rebuild my shattered life. He ensured I got out of bed every day when my depression took hold and sat by my side when I wanted to end my life. His infectious energy and joy for life kept me moving forward. He protected me from the outside world and the inside world.

His appetite was voracious. Food of nearly any kind was fair game to him. Thirty peanut butter cookies? No problem. He could eat them all. A large tray of brownies? Absolutely on the menu, despite the fact that chocolate could kill him. A dozen croissants in a bag on top of the fridge? No sweat. For someone just over a foot tall, his reach was extraordinary. 

As he aged, he began to slow. He took long naps in sunbeams and spent summer afternoons  on the deck. Evenings were spent on the front porch, watching the world go by. Our walks became shorter and our cuddling became longer. He made sure to take the time to smell the roses (and trees and bushes) every time we went out. It took him a few attempts to jump onto the bed at night. His love of life and his excitement to meet others never waned. 

His body gave out on him one evening. I came home from a long day of work, having left him at home with my partner. He slowly made his way to greet me. He wagged his tail, slowly, and looked up at me. He knew. We rushed him to the emergency vet clinic where the veterinarian told us we had to make a choice: treatments and surgeries that had a small chance of giving him quality of life or saying goodbye. I held him and told him how good of a friend he had been, how happy he had made my life. I thanked him for keeping me alive all these years and being the one consistent and constant thing in my world. He fell asleep for the last time in my arms, his head resting in the crook of my elbow.

A dog’s life is short, far shorter than seems fair. The love they give in that short time is irreplaceable and unforgettable. The pain when they leave us is like no other, but for those of us who experience this love, the pain is worth enduring to have had that love in our lives.


Featured Image: Victoria and her beloved dog, R’lyeh. | Victoria Stevens

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2 thoughts on “Grief is all worth the love of a dog”

  1. I remember R’lyeh from delivering mail to the Salon. Saddened to read he has passed, though Victoria you wrote a lovely tribute. He was always a special comfort when I saw him too. I send my sympathies to you and those that knew him, and gratitude to R’lyeh for being such a source of strength through some of your life’s challenges.
    -Andie

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