“Mommy, can we get a puppy! Please, I want a puppy!”
“Let me think about it. We can go to the shelter and see what puppies they have. But no promises.”
Those sentences changed my life forever.
After many trips to the shelter and looking online at so many different sizes, breeds, colours, we finally found a dog we fell in love with.
He was a rescue dog, three months old, a foxhound beagle, and the only one in his litter to have velvety brown ears with no black.
I was eight. We named him Chase because if he wasn’t sleeping, he was running, and we were chasing him.
Over the years, Chase gave us so many laughs. When we enrolled him in an obedience workshop, he was the biggest misfit in the class.
He was always getting in trouble and never listened to anyone. But at the end of the workshop, he got a certificate for being “Most Improved.” We all laughed because he was the most disobedient dog in the class.
“They just gave us that because they didn’t want us to come back,” my father said.
Improved or not, he was part of the family.
When we went to the cottage, Chase was in the backseat with my brother and me. He loved to lay on my lap while I read my book and rubbed his head and belly.
Chase always found a way to get off his collar and run. One night, he ran away and no one knew where he had gone. The whole family grabbed hot dogs, treats, anything we could find that had a scent that would get his attention.
My mother found him six cottages down. The hotdog did the trick.
Once, when I was in Grade 10, I came home from school feeling as low as I ever have. I let Chase out, then fed him. Then I lay down on the cold kitchen floor, crying so hard my tears burned my cracked lips.
From the next room, I heard Chase get up and walk into the kitchen and look at me. I just started talking to him.
I told him everything I was feeling, just like an old friend. He licked my hand and stayed next to me with his head on my lap.
I knew that if I didn’t love myself that day, he loved me. He lifted my sagging spirits and maybe saved my life.
This fall, I got the news that made me drop to my knees and cry my eyes out once again.
My mom was on the phone with the vet. We had taken Chase there a week before because he was having problems getting up and was walking much slower than usual.
Chase had cancer.
The vet said he would we would be lucky to get six months. But even that grim prognosis proved over-optimistic.
Chase was diagnosed on Sept. 9. He died just over a month later, on the morning of Oct. 12. Thanksgiving Day.
We got him to the place that was going to take care of him and cremate him, and I kissed my dog goodbye.
I touched his paw. It was so cold. Almost as cold as the kitchen floor the day I thought that I wanted to end my life. I had already told him everything I wanted him to know.
Chase was my childhood dog. We came together when we both were very young. He was my safe space, my best friend, my biggest fan.
Thank you for all you have done for me, sweet angel.
I will love you forever.