LEARNING TO LET GO

I can’t tell you how she came to live with us, she was a black and tan shepherd and Dad was notorious about getting a lot of our animals from the shelter in town. I was about eight and she and I bonded right off. I remember she was so skinny, her face so sad and her eyes seemed scared and tired. I was determined that we were going to be great friends and I vowed to her that I would take really great care of her. I made sure before school that her water was fresh and at night I would feed and brush her. I talked to her like she was human and I guess that has always been who I am. Heide was not our first German Shepherd I had many growing up. Dad had built a big insulated dog house in the back yard and that is where all our dogs slept. It kept them warm in the Colorado winters and was cooler in the summer days. The dog house could have fit five or six dogs it was like a small play house size. As the weeks progressed Dad was concerned that she was not putting on weight like she should even with all the attention and pampering I was pouring on her. My Dad knew animals very well, he knew she wasn’t well and it was determined that she was pregnant when she came to live with us and due to the issues she was exhibiting she would most likely miscarry. This was the seventies and there wasn’t all the technology and treatments available like there is now. Every day I spent as much time with her as I could, often just holding her paw and letting her know she wasn’t alone. If she was suffering Dad would have eased her misery, but we both hoped that with all our care she would turn the corner. Then one day she didn’t come out of the dog house, her breathing shallow and Dad came out to talk to me. I knew already what he was going to say, with tears in my eyes I nodded up at him. I said Dad I don’t want her to be alone, can I please stay out here with her. At first Dad shook his head and said no you need to come inside for the night. I begged and cried, Dad looked at me and then he relented. He got his old coleman lantern out of the camper and a sleeping bag, he made a spot for me by her in the Dog house. Mom was less then impressed but Dad convinced her and they both understood my heart needed to. I remember laying there with her and Dad was right next door in the camper to call if needed. I held her paw, scratched and petted her head and at some point must have cried my self to sleep. I felt Dad nudge and pick me up early the next morning, with tears welling up in his eyes he held me close and whispered, she is gone. He took me inside the house and I slept for a long time as I was so exhausted. When I woke up I went back out side and Dad had buried her in the back yard. When I was ready to talk about it he stood there next to me holding my hand. I said it was so hard to let her go and how unfair it felt and how I hated death and how much my heart was breaking. He didn’t offer words of condolences but let me pour out my pain and come to the conclusion in it all. Later when he and I were out fishing I told him I had thought a lot about what happened. I told him how grateful I was he let me stay with her, how it made me feel better about letting her go, that she knew I loved her and that I had kept my promise of not lettering her be alone. He cast his line into the lake turned and said, letting go is the hardest lesson to learn and it never ever gets easier and he was so right it never has. You Matter

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