Growing up, we always had a family dog. I don’t remember life with my parents first lab, Ebony, but I still have vivid memories of our second lab, Ginger. Pets have a way of helping define certain periods of your life, don’t they? Ginger was my childhood. But my dog, Paxton, has helped define pretty much my entire adult life.
I trust that my first dog as an adult will hold a special place in my heart that will never be challenged. The one to call my own and whom I did not have to share with my siblings! Paxton was certainly special for me. He was the constant through different relationships in my life, different jobs, three kids, a new home, new friends and new baby-sitters too. He taught me my first “daddy” lessons and gave me a taste of those responsibilities before my three boys came along. No matter how things have changed for me, no matter what I’ve stumbled through or celebrated in my adult life, he was the glue, always wanting to sit or lie right next to me, loving tail wag and all.
Paxton was unique. He was a rescue and I thought that he might have been a bit scarred from an experience before we met because while he naturally looked like a grumpy old man, he certainly acted that way from time to time too. I chalk that up to his separation anxiety. He would show his displeasure anytime you closed the door behind you! He was protective and just wanted to be with someone. As a puppy, I fondly remember how he’d howl at the passing train [when I lived in Fleetwood] and remember each scare he gave me, escaping out of a fenced backyard more than once. He didn’t love taking walks and wasn’t the best at fetch. But he could cuddle with the best of them. And that, is what I’ll miss the most. He was an incredibly loving dog and was always willing to show his affection.
The last two weeks have been difficult, and in an unfamiliar way. No one is immune to loss, and whether that’s the family pet or a loved one, we’ve all experienced the heartache of watching someone decline in health. It’s the sad reality of life, that you can’t fix every sickness or stop the frailty of the human/animal body. The end will come, sometimes requiring your judgment, and then sadness follows. That made this goodbye different than any other for me though. He was a special one to have to let go.
We’re all doing fine. Yes, experiencing loss is a tough lesson for little boys to go through. And while it seems like Desiree and I can’t look at each other right now without our eyes welling up a bit, I think the clichés that typically accompany a loss like this are all true:
It’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. So while we cry because it’s over, we also smile, because it happened.
RIP Paxton. There will never be another dog like you
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