Today marks four months since we said goodbye to you. I love and miss you so much, baby. I hope you know how hard a decision it was to let you go, but I knew it was what would be best for you. Nine years did not feel like enough time knowing you, but I don't think even forever would have been long enough.
You always knew how to make me laugh, especially when I didn't think I could. Whether it was grabbing a toy and making me play with you or simply laying next to me with your head in my lap, you were always the one to make me smile. I still come home sometimes and expect to see you standing in the doorway, whole body wiggling in excitement and a toy in your mouth. Even when your arthritis got the best of you in your final days, you still wanted to play.
You taught me so much too, big guy. You never held a grudge against people, even though you were abandoned at that shelter. You loved everyone you met, regardless of who they were or what they looked like. You never let anything bother you, even when the pain was too much, which you faced with a quiet dignity. I never saw such joy until I got my license and I could take you for car rides. Even when you couldn't stand up anymore, you'd still lie right by the door, nose outside the window and barking at any dog or motorcycle we drove past.
Thank you for sending us Madden. I know that was all you, buddy. Dolly, Tobey and I were missing you so much, and while of course we still do, sending this rambunctious pup to us has helped ease the pain a bit. I was heartbroken and having a difficult time until you sent her. She's given new life to Dolly and Tobey. You're still changing lives, big guy. In life, you helped show people that shelter dogs are wonderful family members and in passing, you have given a new life and chance to another dog. I call her my "Pocket Winnie" because she reminds me so much of you.
I'll always remember your last day with me. You curled up right next to me on your dog bed and we just laid there, while I sobbed into your coat. I knew you knew something was wrong, but as usual, you wanted to make sure I was okay. You always did take care of me. You were almost fourteen years old, but I wanted you to live forever. You knew better though. You always did.
I keep trying to write an essay about you, but I don't think I can properly pay tribute to you. I will keep trying and maybe someday I'll get it right. I hung your collar on my rearview mirror because of how much you loved car rides and I try and take the long way home because you loved that. It's the simple things that matter, you taught me that.
Without you, I would not be here; without you, there would be no Tobey or Madden. You brought so much joy and love to everyone who knew you. I miss you so much and even when the pain becomes too much sometimes, I know we made the right choice.
I love you, Winnie James.