This week has been an exceptionally difficult one for our family – both human and animal. The reality of the fragility of life and the far-too-fast passage of time hit home when we said goodbye to CJ, the spotted wonder who brought unconditional love and every other amazing dog power, to our family for more than a decade.
In the late 90s, my sister and I were working at a small restaurant in suburban Maryland called CJ’s Pub. One evening, a local farmer stopped into the pub on his way to an animal shelter where he planned to hand over several dalmatian puppies he couldn’t sell. In true thoughtful teenage fashion, my sister and I said we would take one of the puppies home and ask permission later. While others cooed over the energetic pups pining for their attention, we saw a shy, mangy little one hiding in the corner, scooped her into our arms, and put her in the backseat of my sister’s Honda Civic.
Having never cared for a dog, apart from the occasional back-door visits from our neighbors’ golden retriever, we stopped into a store on our ride home and talked about names while we picked out a collar, leash and some food.
I was so blinded by love for this little puppy that I don’t remember too much about our mother’s reaction except that she never once doubted our decision and immediately called in the dog expert closest to her heart, who is now her husband, and he came up to talk to us about medical care and training.
Over the next years, CJ got to know the cats and cozied up to my mom the most. My sister and I went off to college and my mom and her furry little ones moved down to Virginia. CJ stayed at my mother’s side and under her wings while everyone moved out, moved in, got married, got jobs, and got started in their next leg of life. CJ said hello and goodbye to brother animals and adored her dad, a contributor to this blog, DW.
I share this with you today because the loss of our beloved dalmatian – and the realization that an era in our family history has passed as well – is too hard to discuss vocally but too great to internalize. Tears once caught by the fur on CJ’s sweet furry face and her kisses, will be shed for her and caught by the shoulders of others who loved and were loved by her.
As time passes and our pain (hopefully) dulls, your patience and support through these emotions will not go unnoticed. While we may not be up to the task of regular posts, submissions for guest posts are welcome and appreciated as are any comforting words or advice.