Just over 13 years ago, a sweet little white fluffy Maltese was born, and I didn’t even know it. Just about twelve weeks later, I went to look at her, and she chose me right away. I was 24, and about a week later, my little Diva came home with me.
She was perfection.
She was just about four pounds and fit right into the shiny pink carrier with rhinestone hardware that I had ordered for her. She came EVERYWHERE with me – bars, restaurants, a movie theater, airplanes, trains, vacations, and the list goes on. I even took her into a hospital once, and no one knew, because she fit in that little carrier and was so well-behaved. I would parade her everywhere on her little leash (which was pink, of COURSE!) and we got stopped all the time, to the point where I felt like I needed to be put together because people loved to talk to me about her! Her signature move was immediately lying on her back whenever anyone approached her, demanding a belly rub. She was my sidekick, and as much as I laugh about this phrase, she was truly my “fur-baby.”
Fast forward three years.
I had just met my now-husband, Steve. Coincidentally, he also had a small dog – a piebald miniature dachshund named Beau. We were dating long-distance at the time, and the second time I came to visit him, Diva came with me. It was love at first sight for Beau, and he was pretty much obsessed with her ever since. When I got her, I thought maybe one day I’d have kids that would know her, but it was so far in the future that I didn’t put much thought into it.
Steve and I got married after a year of dating and got pregnant with our twins six months after that, so when we brought our babies home, Diva was five and Beau was three. As they grew, they quickly got used to getting licked by her, petting her soft fur, and trying not to trip over her as they started toddling around. She quickly got used to sitting under high chairs in the hopes that some food would come dropping her way. Far more food fell than I’d like to admit, and she put on a couple of pounds…but don’t we all put on a few in our old age?
Time flew by, as it always does, and we all got older.
We moved into our new house, and sweet Diva was just as sweet as ever, albeit with more pounds and fewer teeth. But we all loved her just the same (especially Beau!). My boys didn’t give her a ton of attention, but she always wanted to be where they were, and they loved it. But as the years continued to pass, I knew eventually we’d have to start thinking about how much time we had left with her, and the fact that we might have to make a tough decision in the future. As a child, we had to euthanize my cat and while I knew it was the right thing to do, it still broke my heart.
Fortunately, the decision was made for us. One Sunday morning, I was getting the boys ready to go to a birthday party. I got up to let the dogs out, and she was there on her bed, lying peacefully, and I just knew. There was no downfall, nothing obvious or catastrophic. I had no indication that her time had come. I called my husband, who was at our camp, to let him know, and the boys overheard. They were inconsolable.
Their grief was palpable.
We managed to get to (and through) the party – although I had to stop for a treat on the way to try and cheer them up – as soon as we got back in the car, they cried the whole way home. Honestly, I was slightly taken aback at their reaction. In my eyes, they didn’t pay her a ton of attention, but clearly, there was a lot more there than I realized. They didn’t know life without her. They talked about how they wanted another dog just like her, and how they wished we could go back in time so she was still with us. They cried thinking about Beau, and how much more (or little!) time we have left with him. It’s been a few weeks, and they still bring her up regularly. We are showering Beau with extra love as he navigates life without his partner. The poor little guy is still figuring it out.
I encourage talking about her.
I welcome the good, the bad, and the ugly – laughing and smiling about the good times, or crying when they feel sad because they miss her. We all loved her and vice versa, and she was a part of our lives and family, so we want to remember her. I tell them that we will always have wonderful memories with her, and she’s always in our hearts. She was my first “baby”, and she was with me as I really grew up, from a young, single girl to a wife, mom, and career woman. She lived in my parents’ house with me, and in my husband’s and my house with our family. I don’t think I’ll get another dog like her – although I may change my mind down the road – but no one will ever be like sweet Diva…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.