Saying Goodbye to My Best Friend of 14 Years

Posted 9 June, 2011 by Amanda / 20 Comments

Just writing that title makes my throat clench and my eyes fill with tears.  He may have just been a dog, but he was so much more than my pet.  He was my best friend for 14 years.  Golden retrievers usually have an average life span of 10 years; he lived for 14 amazing years.  He was my baby, the little puppy we named Curly because he was born with a little wave on his forehead.  He came into my life when I was just 11 years old, was there for me throughout the dark days of my teenage years, and helped to usher me into my 20s and adulthood.  How do you say good-bye to someone who has been such a fixture in your life?

I want to be eloquent in my good-bye, but my heart is broken, and I know that nothing I could say will ever truly express how much one 80 pound furball impacted and enriched my life for more than half my life.  I want to get into my car, and remember how much he loved sticking his head out of the window; I want to go for a walk and remember how he used to love going on walks, even when they caused him pain.  He was so happy.  I want to remember all the crazy things he did, all the socks he stole, all the Kleenxes he dug out of the garbage and ripped up to tell us he wasn’t getting enough attention, all those ridiculously sappy looks he gave me, and how he filled my life with unconditional love.

Losing a beloved pet is a heart-wrenching and painful experience, but the joy Curly has given me these past 14 years far outweighs the pain.  I repeat this to myself whenever I am overcome with grief and longing.  Even in his final days, he was happy to be inside with his humans, lying on the air vent, one of his favorite places in the house during the summer.  Even when I had to carry him outside because he could not handle walking on his own, he never, ever, once complained, or whined, or was snippy.  Sometimes, he would lie down on the grass, sticking his nose up in the air, looking content with that smile only dogs can smile.  I wanted to lie down on the grass with him, and press pause, so that I could capture the moment in my heart forever.

Everything that I do is inundated with memories of him; the jingle of my keys reminds me of how excited he used to get when I said the words, “Car ride?”  The clinking of ice in my glass of how ice cubes were one of his favorite treats, and that he would come running whenever he heard that clinking sound.  How saying, “Oops,” while in the kitchen sent him running in to see what fell on the floor.  The last day he was with me, I was so proud of his brave and gentle soul that my heart filled with so much love that my body could not contain it.  I wept.

But losing him only makes me more determined to appreciate life.  There is something about experiencing the death of a loved one that makes me realize how much I take for granted in life, and how the simplest things bring the greatest joys.  It was a gorgeous day, that day we said goodbye.  I lifted my head into the breeze, letting the wind ruffle my hair the way it used to ruffle his.  This is how I want to mourn him, by taking pleasure in what I normally ignore, or what I forget about under the weight of responsibilities and never-ending to-do lists.   I let my memories of him wash over me, and somehow I find myself smiling rather than crying.  He was the best.  My best friend.

And I will miss him.  Goodbye Curly, I will always love you.

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20 Responses to “Saying Goodbye to My Best Friend of 14 Years”

  1. *hugs* My condolences for the loss of your beloved companion. I too know how this feels, as my chow chow Snowbear was my companion throughout my childhood, adolescence and early 20s, as well. As you work through your grief, I hope you find solace in the happy memories that you mentioned. Those will never leave you. I don’t know if you scrapbook, but making a scrapbook for Snowbear helped me a lot.

    I think our dogs are kindred spirits. Mine too loved ice cubes and car rides. And, he had to be lifted up in his last year because his hips stopped working. I imagine them both now, youthful as ever, chasing each other over Rainbow Bridge, and relaxing in the fields, as they settle in to their new existence. Curly is not alone now, and neither are you. He lives on in you. *hugs*

    • Thanks, Smash. I’m not the best at scrapbooking, but I’ve done it before, and I really like that idea. I have so many pictures of Curly, and it would be nice to have them all in one spot.

  2. Felicia

    ((((((((((((((( hugs )))))))))))))))))) As a fellow dog lover and one that lost a pet in the last year, I know this is a tough time! Take time to heal and just remember all the good times. Everything still reminds me of Pugita but now I can just do a little smile and imagine her right there with me.

    I just donate $25 to our local Golden Retriever Rescue in honor of Curly. I do it once a month to the Pug Rescue society as it is a great way to remember the furr balls that made such an impact on our lives!

    • Oh, Felicia, thank you so much. I am going to talk to my family to see if we can make a donation to our local golden retriever rescue, too (which, until 15 minutes ago, I never knew existed, but I’m glad I do now). That would be a fantastic way to remember Curly.

      • Felicia

        Donating to the Pug Rescue society really helped me deal with the loss of Pugita after she passed away. I am not ready for another Pug (yet) but it did feel like something that would honor her (also help another pug until it found a home) :)

        • Even though Curly wasn’t a rescue, I like to think that he rescued me. Giving to an organization that helps unite other goldens with people so that they can experience the same joy that I’ve had with Curly will go a long way toward helping me. :)

  3. HUGE ((((((HUGS)))))) sweetie! I am always absolutely devastated when we lose a pet. They become just as important to us as our children and it is such a hard loss.

    • Thanks, Christi. I’ve always planned to have dogs the same way most (normal?) people plan to have children. I’ve lost pets before, but I think Curly was the first dog that was ever really mine, and that just makes it so much more difficult.

  4. I am so sorry to read this. I wish I had read it sooner. Losing a pet is very hard. I’ve done it too many times, unfortunately. I’m sending you tons of virtual hugs.

  5. Amanda,
    *Texas sized hugs * to you, my friend. I can imagine how hard it must be, and I’m so sorry for your lose. I think it is great to remember that the joy and the times you had together outweigh the pain.

    I’ve had my dog, Ozzie, for 10 wonderful years so far, and you are right. They become something more than just dogs, but true friends and companions.

    On days that Ozzie is out at the groomers, the house feels so weird without him there. I tear up when I think of his age and how he will probably only have a few more years left. But I wouldn’t trade the presence of him in my life for anything.

    Those are great. Curly was beautiful!

    @Felicia, You are awesome for making a donation in Curly’s name.

    • Thanks, Missie. It is weird to be home without Curly. I keep thinking about going to get him (he was an outside dog, but spent a lot of time in the house) only to realize a second later that he’s gone. And that’s tough. Give Ozzie a big hug for me (and Curly).

  6. I’m sorry for your loss Amanda. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said in an already amazing way by the ladies above me. So I’m sending you a hug *huge bear hug* and say that if there’s anything you need don’t hesitate to ask.

    • Rachel, you know that it is the thought and meaning behind it that counts. Virtual or real life, it still means a lot.

  7. kay

    Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss Amanda :( Our pets really are part of our family, and losing them is never easy. I’m sending you lots of love and a big hugs through the internet.

  8. lisa kovits

    I am so sorry we just had to put are dog to sleep to he was 14 and he had hip problem he went parlaized we had to take him out to use the bathroom we are so upset we just cant get over it and dont know how we lost him 2 days ago and it so hard to get on with life with him not here anymore,. we are so sad i am so sorry to you to