By Joseph L. Mazzella

 

The day we brought Julie home I knew that we were in for quite a ride. She was more than just a dog. She was a Pekinese-Poodle with personality to spare. Always the smallest dog in the house, she didn’t let that stop her from trying to run the show. She made me laugh the way she would stroll up to the dog food bowl and bark away a dog ten times her size. She never once begged, but she wasn’t afraid to ask for attention either. Too many times I would find my toes being tickled by her tongue until I finally moved her up to my lap or on to my desk.

JulIe didn’t mind being petted but wouldn’t abide being carried around like a doll. The kids soon learned just how to treat her: with both love and respect. Julie loved a good dog treat and an enjoyable belly rub. When it came to haircuts and baths, however, she wasn’t afraid to show her displeasure about them with a gentle growl or nip to your hand.

Julie had her bad habits too. She thought the kitty litter box was gourmet dining and in her later years tended to use the bathroom on my floor just as I was getting her leashed to go outside.

Despite her faults, though, she still loved everyone who came her way and delighted in each new day God gave her here. Julie lived on and on while some of my younger dogs passed away over the years, but her health slowly got worse and worse. She lost weight and had trouble walking. She became both blind and deaf and we had to look for her favorite napping places when it was time to walk her.

Sometimes she would sleep so deeply that I would be afraid that she had finally passed away. Yet, she always lifted her head when I gently touched her old, frail body. That is until last night. Julie died in her sleep after living well over 100 in dog years. She had brought us so much laughter and given us so much love. She had shown us how to handle a body’s gradual decline with dignity and grace. She had reminded us how to cherish every moment that life gives us in this world. She had made a home in our hearts that will last forever.

I buried Julie in the woods behind my home with wet eyes and a hurting heart. I asked myself too why I have taken so many dogs into my life over the years when the pain of losing them is so great. As I was walking home remembering Julie, God gave me the answer: “The love is always greater than the pain.”

Thank you dear God for giving me Julie. I will miss the old girl. I will try my best to honor her memory too by cherishing every moment, delighting in each day, and loving everyone who comes my way.