unconditional love

In the early hours of the morning, one of my beloved miniature poodles, Chocolate, passed away. He was nearly 14 human years old. Lifetimes, if you think in dog years.

I spent much of the morning in tears. When I found myself alone, I would sink into my own thoughts and my eyes would blur as I recalled the state he was in the last time I saw him two weeks ago - perfectly healthy, endlessly happy. I called my mom in the evening and asked her to retell the past night's events to me, so I could piece together the mysterious puzzle of his passing. He had fallen ill quite suddenly over the weekend. After years and years of suffering no more than playful scratches, it was strange to see him immobilized by pain. My dad took him to emergency, where the veterinarian gave him two options: spend thousands of dollars on surgery to save our dog, procedures which might have only stalled death for a few days or weeks because of his age, or leave him to die peacefully. My dad took Chocolate and brought him home. Upon arriving, he laid him down gingerly next to Precious, his life-long companion. And in the morning, he was gone.

Earlier today, I struggled with the irony of it all. With as many good things that have happened to me this summer, I feel like there are a thousand more bad things that have come my way. In the span of two months, I lost two of my life's sources of pure unconditional love. Great beings who had so much to give, so much to care about. I know that shortly, I will lose another: Precious, who herself is in her last phase of life and who, I am certain, will be wanting to find Choco again soon. I know that I have every reason to feel angry and hateful and bitter. But what I am finding is that I feel more accepting, understanding, and open to love.

I had always joked that it was difficult for him to comprehend things, and I often called him "Chococat," in reference to the Sanrio character and his cat-like, attention-seeking tendencies. But for all the reasons he irked me, he gave me two more to make me adore him. He was such an explorer and had this boundless energy that affected everyone in the room. He was never afraid to stand up for himself despite his tiny size. I remember once, when I was much younger, maybe 10 or 11, I was taking him and Precious out for a walk when he scared off a dog, at least 20 times his own size, who was threatening us. Such a big bite for such a small dog. I loved the relationship he and Precious had: he, always the trouble-making brother; she, always the overprotective, mildly-irritated but wildly-amused sister. I will miss that dynamic incredibly.

The most important lesson I learned from my tiny 10-pound dog was forgiveness. There were so many instances during our time together when I made mistakes, some of which took years for me to forgive myself. Despite all the times that I messed up, he continued to love me, honestly and unconditionally. From him, I came to understand that things happen, intentionally or not. We use the strength from our relationships to get through them and move on. They are one of life's greatest assets.

Now that he is gone, I will try my best to incorporate his qualities into my own life in order to preserve and honor his memory. It is amazing to see how much of an effect my dog had on me. We grew up together, and we learned a lot about life together. And though we never spoke the same language, I am certain we understood each other 100%.

Rest in Paradise, Chococat. And make sure to give Angelina a kiss for me.

My favorite picture of my pups, Chocolate and Precious (circa 2002)

1 comment:

MattK (Section 2) said...

A good ode to a farewell friend. I'm sure he's with you now in spirit giving you his love.