You weren't merely my dog, and you weren't merely my best friend. You were a part of my heart, and easily the biggest and best part of my life. From the moment I brought you home, I loved and cared about you more than I did anyone else, and that hasn't changed since the moment you died beside me--my hand stroking the fur on the back of your neck--almost four months ago.
While friends have told me not to feel guilt, and to only remember the good times you and I shared, the truth is that I wasn't always what you deserved. The times I took you for granted, or was too tired to take you for a walk, or too preoccupied with something silly to accept your invitation to play fetch, or wasting my time with someone that didn't care about me when I should have been with you, you seemed to only have one desire: to be directly by my side.
I always thought there would be more time, and I was always preparing for a better future. Not that you could understand me, but I promised you so many times that "better days were ahead". Days in which we'd have a bigger home, you'd have a backyard in which to play, I'd have more free time, and we'd have someone else with us that would love the two of us. I was too foolish to understand that there was no need to look ahead to "better days", because the life we had with one another was perfect. Everything was just right the way it was, because I was with you. If only I had known then what I know now.
I would not be the person I am today if it were not for you. You were there during the lowest periods of my life. No matter the depths of my depression, and no matter how worthless I felt I was, in your eyes there existed no one better. You looked to me for guidance, protection, food, a set of rules, and most of all, for love. I realized that. You likely didn't realize that there were many times that I looked to you for a reason to get up in the morning. There were many instances in which you were the only thing that tethered me to sanity.
Speaking of which, I'm surprised I didn't lose my mind after you were taken from me, particularly in those first few days when waking up brought with it the painful reminder you were gone, or the two-and-a-half months in which I had to unlock and walk through the front door of my old apartment without hearing you bark, seeing you spin, and being greeted before I could remove my coat. I'm proud of myself for keeping it together during the cold nights spent in my queen-sized bed in which my fuzzy, twenty-pound, brown-eyed "space heater" isn't there in your usual spot directly to my right, your back pressed against my chest, my left arm draped over you.
I miss our naps on the living room floor. I miss removing the goop from your eyes, and wiping your perennially runny nose. I miss the way you would stand guard over me--practically DARING anyone to come near me--when I was sick. I miss the way you hated any female that tried to get close to me. I miss seeing the confused concern in your face whenever you saw me cry, and the way you would leap to my side and burrow your head underneath my arm during those times. I miss your ornery demeanor, your peculiar habits, your stinky feet, your bony butt, your general distrust of all of humanity, and those soulful, loving, beautiful brown eyes. I miss you, Tek. I miss you every single day.
I want you to know that I will almost certainly share my life with another dog someday, and I will love him or her with all my heart. There stands a good chance that I will even allow another sheltie into my life. But I promise you with everything that I am, and I swear on your life, my life, and the life we shared together, that I will never replace you. You will always be my dog. When I die, I want my last thoughts to be of you.
Your best friend Ken