This is my Chelsea girl. If you are a dog person, you will know what I mean when I say that she was my heart dog. We lost her on Thursday night and if you have been there yourself, you know what I mean when I say that my world was turned upside down.
You don't need the whole story but suffice to say that this is the dog who changed my life. When we got her, we were living in a tiny apartment in the city and as we said goodbye, we now live in a small town near to nature, in a house and we have a car and a huge host of friends we would never have had without her in our lives. Getting her ended up changing the entire trajectory of our lives. It's a lot like when you have kids - you lose yourself and you find a new self that you didn't know was in there. I am so happy to have the life that I do where I do and it's almost all, directly or indirectly, because of my girl.
I don't know if anyone else feels this way but sometimes, I get these little glimpses of myself 10 years ago (or 20 sometimes). Generally, my life is so chaotic that I'm not pondering things or thinking bigger picture, my focus is almost entirely immediate. Then, once is a while, for one reason or another, I have an experience that makes me realise who I used to be and that I still have that person inside me, despite the way my life has gone. Before we had the kids, we spent a lot of time doing dog stuff - endless road trips to dog shows, hours and hours and hours of field training and obedience classes, hours spent with people who we would never, ever have encountered otherwise. I can think of so many special memories - meals shared in odd places (e.g., barbecues outside at dog shows at dusk, a roast beef dinner in a barn in the middle of nowhere that was one of the loveliest meals of my life), amazing bathroom adventures (hunt test washroom facilities that sometimes bring new meaning to "rustic"), trips to new places, several anxiety-inducing border crossings, being in an RV at a dog show in New Hampshire as we had tornado warnings that went on for several hours... They may not sound as magical to someone else but they were such a huge part of my life and Chelsea shared that. She also shared many nights up with a crying baby, hundreds of hours of hikes in all kinds of amazing places, hours and hours of drives to all kinds of places and naps, lots of cozy naps together. Saying goodbye to her the other night truly was one of the hardest things I have ever done but, as was so typical of Chelsea, she gave me a little gift, too - a glimpse of a part of myself that I have discovered that I miss, a bonding time for Dh and I, as we both realised that we want to get a puppy and put a toe back in the water with training again, now that the kids are old enough to come along. I love my new life as a mom and driver to activities and a "working mother" but I also still like parts of who I was and I'd like to try to make time for some of that again.
It's funny how tragedy can be good for the soul. I will miss my girlie more than words can express and Dh and I keep catching each other having a little cry about something - looking to one of her favourite spots and not seeing her there, walking by the leash collection in the hallway and realising that it's pretty excessive now with only one dog, the empty crate downstairs. I've also had the wonderful reminder, though, that I am surrounded by thoughtful and kind people who have been so wonderful and supportive, a husband who truly is my best friend and who shares the same vision as I do about how these things need to go (it was so clear to me that I couldn't let her suffer and that we needed to send her on her way and I don't know what I would have done if he had refused and we had to prolong the agony), a passion for dogs that he and I both share and that adds so much richness to our lives and a host of wonderful memories that had been dormant for such a long time.
Thank you, my sweet girl, for the many years of love, loyalty, naughtiness and laughter. Our family will never be the same without you and you have taken a piece of my heart that will never again be filled by anyone else. I'm sure that you are now eating dog cheese with Mike (a story for another day), rolling in the grass in that special way that you loved and napping on the softest pillows. Bless you, my love, and I look forward to seeing you again someday.