We grew up together, both puppies with boundless energy and trust and love. It's cliche because it's true: dogs are totally limitless in their loyalty. He was my alarm clock every day, urging me awake, prodding at me with his paws. He would tug on my school uniform before I left, begging me to stay with him. I wish I could have brought him with me, I wish he wasn't leaving now.
He loved me even when I left him. He waited by my door when I left for college, four long years of 'why did you leave?' and 'you're finally home!' Even after the arthritis kicked in and he could barely hold himself up, he was always the first one to welcome me back. Weak limbs be damned.
When he was older, calmer, I would hold him, swaddled in a thick blanket, and he would fall asleep on my chest like a baby - his belly rising and falling with ease and comfort, his breath coming out in soft wisps as he slept. This was peace.
Now there are no more false alarms or false hope. My dog, my little bear, my Buster, once so filled with life and energy, has been reduced to only moments of wellness, short bursts of clarity. He can no longer walk; instead, he howls, he sleeps. It's time.
And so I say goodbye to my oldest companion. My heart isn't heavy so much as it is hollow. Times like these I pray for an afterlife, for some sort of Heavenly world because any other reality is too much right now. I need to trust that I will see him, see all of them, again someday.
I know he's held on so long for us - his love is that selfless - but it's finally time to let go.