I remember the emails well: I have this foster dog, my best friend wrote, and I’m thinking about keeping him.
This was a big deal. At the time, Sara only had one dog, a recovering reactive dog named Layla who was pretty picky about her canine companions. But Layla seemed to like this dog, so despite some reservations (and a whole lot of emailing and blogging and general hemming and hawing that seems funny in retrospect), Sara decided to adopt Boots.
The first thing she needed to do was find a suitable name. The dog (well, puppy, really- he was probably around 6 months old at the time) she had pulled from the local city pound had been terrified. He would pancake to the ground and pee himself when people even looked at him. He had huge eyes and though scared of the world, desperately wanted to be right.
She named him after the house elf in the Harry Potter books, and like his namesake, Dobby was brave in the face of fear. Over time he blossomed. He and Sara played in rally, and his prancy, bouncy heeling was beautiful to watch. He loved balls, and would parade around the house or training area when he was given one. He would curl up into a ball of fur and snuggle pretty much any time.
And then he began having seizures.
With each subsequent seizure, his behavior deteriorated. Sara consulted with neurologists and a board certified veterinary behaviorist. She tried meds. Lots of them. And then she ran out of things to try, and he kept getting worse.
And so Sara- who loved Dobby with all her heart, who cared for him through it all, who gave him the best life he could have hoped for- selflessly gave him one last gift. She set him free from a body plagued with physical and emotional illness.
Tonight, I am with Sara. As we walked our dogs together earlier, it reminded me of past walks in that same park, along the same path, with the same dogs... minus one. It's so strange to know that I'll never see that eager, earnest, amazing little dog again. Our time with our dogs is so short. Sara’s time with Dobby was even shorter. Don't waste a single moment. Go for a walk. Throw a tennis ball. Snuggle on the couch. Be with your dog.
Do it in honor of Dobby, the brave and courageous dog.
If you’d like to read Sara’s beautiful tribute to her dog, please read it here. It's way better than mine. There's also a follow up here.