Today I said farewell to one of my oldest and dearest of friends, my dog Tessa. She was 17. I adopted her when she was four months old, and I was only 19. We saw each other through all of our ups and downs and milestones: college graduation, moving from Pittsburgh to Seattle, a few short-lived relationships that she didn’t approve of, to finally meeting and marrying the love of my life, who she did approve of. Even though these last few months were hard for her, she stuck around to meet my human daughter Miriam.
She was sweet (mostly just to me and her select few humans), loyal to a fault, terribly stubborn, and very clever. She wasn’t much for obedience training but learned the words most important to her. We couldn’t utter the word “pizza” or she’d sit herself in front of the door, ready to greet the delivery man.
She was the best traveling companion because she never cared where we went, as long as she was with me. Together we saw the whole country; from the Jersey shore to Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean.
She especially loved the beaches, where she could just run and run and run. But not go in the water, of course. Water is terrible when you’re a dachshund.
She pretended to be cranky and annoyed at other dogs, and most humans too, but she loved her little pack. She was definitely the alpha female but fortunately Ted and Ardie were okay with that.
She was a connoisseur of comfort, and was most likely to be found either in bed or on the couch, but always under a blanket. Or three.
She was also quite good at selfies, before selfies were even a thing. But most of all, for 17 years, she was mine and I was hers. Amy Sedaris puts it well: “Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.”
And so today I knew it was time. I held her and whispered to her that I loved her, and that it was okay to go now. I told her we would be okay, and thanked her for being the best, most loyal, sweetest and bravest friend I’ve ever had. I only hope that somehow over the past 17 years I was able to repay her for everything she gave to me. She has left her little paw prints etched on my heart.
Good night my sweet girl.
“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us,
these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so
many years of our own lives.”
– John Galsworthy