An Open Letter to My Childhood Dog

Bella Rose,

You came into my life in the same fashion in which you left it: riding in the backseat of my dad's car. The day Dad brought you home, you were just a scared little black ball of fur, only two months old and fresh out of the pound. I looked into your big, deep brown eyes, and at that very moment, I knew what love was. When you saw my tiny, three-year-old hands reaching out to touch you as I called your name, swelling with joy, I think you knew it too. You were my dog, my first real pet, but you were more than that; you were my best friend, my playmate, my "doggadoo," my girl.

I don't have a memory without you in it. I recall playing in the driveway of our home, looking to the window and seeing your sweet face watching me, protecting me. I remember getting off the school bus, dropping my book bag to the floor and falling to the carpet to give you a hug, knowing you had been waiting for me all afternoon. I think about eating dinner, kicking my legs under the table and feeling the tips of your fur brush against my toes, reminding me that you were there, awaiting the inevitable scraps. Everywhere I looked, you were there. Even as I got older (and you, grayer), you never failed to be there for me. When the girls at school made me cry, you sat with me patiently and listened without a hint of judgment. When I was sick, you laid beneath me, all day and all night, checking on me routinely, reminding me that I was never alone. Every homecoming, every prom, every first day, every last day, you never failed to be there. You dedicated your life to watching me grow from the little tiny three-year-old running around the backyard to a fully grown adult, living away from home and making my own decisions. For this, I cannot thank you enough. 

Even now, sitting on my bed in my dorm room, miles and miles away from home and all grown up, I need you. Two weeks ago, when I lost you, I locked myself in the bathroom of my dorm and collapsed on the cold linoleum, convinced that I would never get through this stabbing pain. For 15 years, you have been my go-to, a solid in my life, something I depended on. When I walk into my living room, I instinctually look to the corner where your bed lies and ache when I realize that you are no longer there to greet me. When I get up to get water in the middle of the night, I step over the spot where you used to lay beneath me, even though there is nothing there to trip over. When I leave the house, I look up the stairs to tell you that I'll be home soon, but I am speaking to myself. It is impossible for me to envision a world without you in it, even though I am now living in that world. I am still not sure how to continue when I cannot kiss the top of your big black head when I need to remember that everything will be alright. Over time, I know that the wound in my chest will close with a scar and that I will be able to think of you without crying. However, I want you to know that your time with me has not been spent in vain. I want to love something as unconditionally as you have loved me, and I will strive to make that happen. I want to listen as patiently as you have listened to me. I want to give as selflessly as you did. Lastly, I want to find another puppy, one who is sitting in a pound somewhere, a little furball who is scared and all alone, and I want to take her in and share with her the kind of love that we have shared. In the end, nothing is more sacred than the bond between a girl and her dog.

Thanks for giving me the best childhood I could have asked for. I wouldn't change a thing!

Much Love,

Alina (AKA Baby)