Friday, June 12, 2020

A letter to our dearest Lyla Jane

From the first time I laid eyes on you, I knew that you were the most gentle, loving dog ever.  Not long after that, you came to live with us in Huntsville and you joined the beagles to become part of our family, permanently.

I remember the early days when you were having trouble getting used to your new surroundings.  You would sneak off and go upstairs and do your business in the spare bedroom.  Fortunately you realized soon enough that Siri and Fiina loved you very much and along with Rachel, we were your family.  You didn't have to try to run away anymore -- you were home.  

We have walked probably a thousand miles together.  I smile just thinking of all the times that I probably yelled at you because you would stop to pee ten times every mile!  When you were two tired or not strong enough to walk, we would just sit and put your head on the couch.  You loved it when I would pet your face the most, and rub your ears.  It would always end with you shaking your Yoda ears our, and coming in for more pets.  

For your mom's birthday a few years ago, we got your DNA tested.  Your results came back saying you were 25% German Shepherd, 25% Labrador Retriever, 12.5% Chow Chow, 12.5% Siberian Husky and 25% a mix of a few other things.  I had a t-shirt made for your mom with the results on the front and your picture on the back with the caption "100% loved."  

We had our share of scares with your health over the years with you.  There was the time that you had a tumor growing in your belly and we feared the worst, but it turned out to be benign and you had a lot of good, healthy years after that.  Eventually your hearing deteriorated but you still managed to recognize your name when we called you.  

For the last couple of years your life has been winding down.  A few more naps, a few less miles on the walk and a little more medication in your breakfast kibble.  We have watched you closely to make sure that you were living your best life, and in as little old age pain as possible.  More recently we have noticed that you are struggling to get up, maintain your balance and your constant panting is telling us that you are in pain, even if you are trying your best to hide it.  We suspect that you have a tumor on your brain based on the symptoms, but it doesn't stop you from wagging your tail and always making us happy.  Sadly, even though you can speak, we know that you are ready to go.  

When your sister Siri died, it was a very sharp pain as she was told that it could be three to six months and she died that night.  That still hurts.  But with you, it has been a slow and dull pain where it is difficult to watch you deteriorate and not be living your best life.

I know that you don't understand any of this.  I know that you just want to be petted and eat your food and go on walks.  You don't understand the pain that your mom and I are in watching you in this condition, knowing that soon we will have to let you go.  We will try to be strong to the end so you don't worry about us, but just know that the tears are because of the vast amount of love we have for you.  

Remember when we recently loaded you and Fiina up into the car and drove to Michigan,  We know how much you love being at Grandpa and Grandpas where you can run around freely and chase deer.  We went on several long pontoon boat rides and you sat up on the front of the boat, with the wind blowing in your face.  You were in absolute heaven.  We were so happy that you got to make that trip one more time. 

This family is not going to be the same without you.  Just know that someday we may get another "big dog" but that we will never be trying to replace you.  You are one of a kind.  We promise to honor your memory always telling tales of your fluffiness, how you never met a stranger who did not want to pet you and how everyone you met said that you were the most wonderful dog in the world.  

I hope that as your dad for these 9 years, that I have given you the grandest of grand lives.  That you know how much I love you, and how letting you go is one of the hardest things we have ever had to do.  Please find Siri in doggie Heaven and chase bunnies together until someday we can be together again.