The movie "Marley & Me" had a huge impact on me when I saw it in the theatre a few years ago. Holding my husband's hand, I sobbed during the final scene with Marley in the veterinarian's office, because I knew that day would come soon enough for our family pet, too.
That day came last Tuesday. The past few years had been hard for Odie, our spunky Chihuahua, when he lost an eye from glaucoma and had cancerous cells removed from his body in two different surgeries. But still, he plodded along, if a little slower, because I think he always knew how greatly his absence would affect our family.
I got Odie as a present upon my high school graduation in 1994. Yes, 1994! I am so fortunate to have had Odie with us as long as we did. Except for the four years I was in college and a brief period after graduation, he lived with me. For two years after I married my husband, he was our fur baby and in essence, our first child. He got a little depressed when our daughter came along, but eventually he settled into life with us and our two kids.
There will never be another pet like Odie. He might have been small, but he was fearless. One of my favorite memories is when he snatched a mini bagel smothered in cream cheese out of my hand when he was a tiny puppy. That was his favorite food. He also once charged a FedEx truck, which miraculously saw him at the last minute and stopped within two feet of him. Before the loss of his eye, he loved to take long walks around our neighborhood on his leash. And he always gave us extra love when we were sick.
Odie turned 16 in May. My daughter sang to him and drew him several sweet birthday cards. She loved to tell people stories about Odie. But we noticed he was losing his appetite and control of his bladder more and more, and moving very slowly. He developed an infection and was having trouble breathing last week when we finally decided it was time to let him go.
I'll always be grateful to my husband for being with him during that last hour in the vet's office while I was driving around town with the kids, crying and trying to tell myself he wouldn't be in pain anymore.
Now, the house is quiet. Sometimes I think I hear him scratching at the back door. I miss when he used to lie on his bed in the corner of my office when the kids were in school and I worked. I miss sitting outside in the sun with him while he rolled in the grass to scratch his back. I miss the feel of his smooth fur.
It is getting easier every day. I can' t think about getting another pet right now. He has always been the only animal in our home. We need time to grieve. But I will always be thankful to have experienced such a wonderful relationship with my dog, as difficult as it was at times. And I hope I'll see him again one day.
Goodbye Odie. I'll always love you.