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Dear Champ

Dear Champ,

When I brought you home with me 12 years ago, I knew that one day you’d break my heart. I knew there would come a day when I’d have to say goodbye, and I’d miss being able to give you cuddles and kissies and butt scratches. But I never could have imagined all the other little things I’d miss when you were gone.

I never thought I’d hope for one more chance to sweep up the crumbs of kibble that covered the floor after every…single…meal. I never thought I’d miss hearing you ring your potty bells on the door at the precise moment I’d settled into the couch to relax or being barked at for the entirety of every meal until I shared a bite or two with you. I didn’t know how much I’d miss your snores or giving up the good spot on the couch so that you could have it. But I do. I miss every single little part of our days together.

I still look for you when I come into the house. I hear your sleepy sighs when you should be napping beside me. I hear your little nails hitting the wall in the middle of the night and smile thinking about all the times you would get stuck on your back on your bed and try to flip yourself back over. Sometimes I even reach over to scratch your little head in bed, even though it’s been years since you were able to jump up to sleep next to me. As much as I miss you, I’m thankful for these reminders and hope they’ll continue to comfort me on the hardest days.

To some people, a dog is just a pet. But you, sweet boy, were so much more to me. You were my best friend and roommate. You were my constant companion and a source of endless entertainment. You were the reason I got out of bed during some of my darkest days. When I felt I had nothing and no one to lean on, I always knew I had you—and that was enough. As Grandmama said recently, you were my person.

Thank you, Champ, for being my person in dog form. Thank you for trusting me after your first people let you down. Thank you for being my protector and loving me unconditionally. Thank you for tolerating all the times I couldn’t help but to smoosh your face or flap your ears. Thank you for the best memories I could have asked for. Thank you for everything you taught me. I’m so sad you’re gone, but I’m better because I had you.

You did good, bubba. You did so good.

Photo: Jess and Beck Photography