You’re not gone… just on another great adventure. ~Christine Sternfels
Today, I picked up Charlie’s ashes and paw print. First I cried, then smiled, then cried, then smiled. Passersby were starting to look concerned (or scared). I finally got myself together, wiping the tears and snot from my face then I started to think about how life is according to how Charlie lived. Thought I’d share…
Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull
At 10:47am yesterday, our sweet boy Charlie drew his last breath. He would have been twelve this Thursday.
We got him for Danielle’s thirteenth birthday. She wanted a chocolate Lab so we went to a breeder’s house. When we got there, there were several little chocos running around and people were there trying to pick the next member of their family. That’s when we noticed a little tethered box in the corner. Something was moving under the rags when a head popped out. He was trying so desperately to uncover himself, but his paws were so big and clumsy. The breeder told us to make our pick before they were all gone and we asked him, how about the cute one in the box? He responded “Oh that? You don’t want that, he’s the runt and I can’t give you papers for him. You don’t want him” That’s when we knew, he was ours!
He was three months old and his paws were the size of his head. He always stumbled and his belly was so big that it dragged on the floor. We got him a trainer and she came to the house every week. It took three lessons for us to know, Charlie can’t be trained… he’s so smart he plays dumb so well! He was sweet, sensitive and very funny.
He loved camping and going for hikes but get this… he hates the water. Yes he’s a pure bred Hunting Labrador from the Dakotas and does excellent pointing to ducks, but trying to get him in the water was impossible. He cries when we bathe him, he whines when we take him to the beach but he’ll run around in the shallow water if he thinks we’re chasing each other. When he realizes he’s wet, he walks around as if he was saying “Ewe…ewe..wet..ewe” carefully trotting his way out of there. The first time we took him to the river and tried to get him in the water was fun. It was like playing tug of war. We were on one end and he was on the other. He dug his two front legs into the pebbled beach and anchored his butt down and pulled back. It was funny and it caught everyone’s attention because here was this water dog, afraid to go in. The drag marks was classic. Charlie gave in to trick us because as soon as we thought he was going in and stopped pulling, he ran away really fast.
He loved rolling in dirt, freshly cut grass and sand. He loves to pounce on short girls, get them down to the ground and just lick them. He was a 90 pound lap dog, oh he loved climbing on my husband’s lap all the time. It was a challenge pulling him back on road trips because he wanted to be in the front with hubby. He loved french fries and peanut butter. One time my husband was eating his pb&j sandwich. He had the sandwich in his hand, looked away for a second, turned to take another bite and it was gone! There was Charlie, licking his chops and getting rid of the evidence. He also loved getting his nails done. Good thing dogs are color blind, if he knew the kid was putting fuchsia on his toenails, I doubt he would have just sat there and let her… but then again he loved her so much he probably wouldn’t have cared. It’s fun watching hubby and the kid play catch with him. They will throw a frisbee or a ball, Charlie will look where it went, then look back at them with an expression on his face as if he was saying ” And you want me to do what with that thing?…” Charlie loved life, but most of all… he loved us and we knew it.
I will miss waking up to big eyes staring back at me after getting a whiff of his stale breath. I will miss having my morning cup of coffee outside when he does his morning business. When we watch scary movies, he will sit on the couch, bury his head under the blankets and shake like a baby. I will miss having to hide my gum or anything minty in a high place because he loves it so much. One time I was in the hallway passing by my daughter’s room when I saw him in there quietly (as if on stealth mode) unzipping her back pack to get to her gum. He even got into my aunt’s luggage and bit into the can of Altoids… that was a bit too much for him because he didn’t finish it. But no matter how much gum or mint he ate, he always had bad breath! I will miss his stinky farts, especially when the family is intensely watching a movie… everyone is quiet and concentrated until we all scream “Ewe, Charlie!”. I will miss making salad because he loved the bottoms of romaine hearts. I will miss him walking into my office in the middle of the day to rest his head on my lap or nag me with his paws to go outside. Packing lunch for the kid won’t be the same without him waiting for me to drop something on the floor. I will miss our therapy sessions where he sits there, paws crossed, listening to me while I complain about the little petty things. He always made me feel better, with his wise and quiet reassurance that life is so much more than that and everything will be okay. He was such a gentle giant, I think I’ve only heard him bark at most 4 times in his post puppy life. But when he barked, he meant business and they were times he was protecting us from squirrels, raccoons and stuff.
I could write a book on our life with him and all the things we’ll miss about him, he was so special. I will miss you terribly my sweet boy and my heart is hurting so much right now. You will be in our hearts and thoughts always… we love you Charlie!
It was an ordinary morning. Everyone got ready for the day like any other Friday. Dad’s in the shower thinking of his presentation that afternoon, mom’s in the kitchen packing lunch and checking the family’s calendar for the weekend, the kids are half awake rubbing the sleep off their eyes. Everyone was doing their thing.
Some families sat down for breakfast, others just grabbed something and dashed off to work and some sipped their coffee while the kids worked on their bowls of cereal, then off to school they went.
A few hours into the morning, the phone rings. Your child’s school is in lock-down. Someone decided to do a terrible thing and your child’s situation is unclear. Is she alive? Did he get hurt? What’s going on? Dear God, please let them be ok, please let them be ok.
The lives of families who lost their loved ones that day will never be the same. Every year, the holidays will be a bitter reminder of their loss. There are gifts under the tree that will never be opened. We all know what took place that day and I have no words to describe one terrible act that took 26 lives. My heart goes out to the town of Sandy Hook.
On day 23 of this series, I want to share with you an opportunity to give. United Way of Western Connecticut set up an official fund for the families of the victims and the community as a whole: The Sandy Hook School Support Fund will provide support services to families and the community. All donations to this fund will go directly to those affected.