Eleven and a half years ago, a friend gave us a dog. Her name was Checkers and she needed a new home. When we first met Checkers, Kristy and I were not long married and still living in the first home we had together. We were waiting for our new house to be built and with a new home came our first opportunity to consider a pet. Enter Checkers and she stole our hearts. She officially joined the family when she moved in with us to our new house.
Checkers fast became a comfortable and much loved part of our family, always finding new and creative ways to sprawl out on the furniture and make herself comfortable in our lives. Her version of comfort, as you can see, is different than ours, but it made for some great photos.
She was well behaved but not without the occasional mischief. Harmless stuff mainly. I remember one time when Kristy and I were preparing to eat wings and watch a movie only to find Checkers had beat us to it. The wings at least. She cleared the entire plate of wings; hot sauce, bones, and all. She probably ate 20 wings to herself that evening. We braced for the worst after that, but she didn’t seem to suffer in the least. I on the other hand needed some wings…
She loved rodents! Even alerting us on two different occasions that a mouse had found its way in to the house. If she could explain things herself I might imagine she would say that her life’s work revolved around catching a rodent. Be it a squirrel, a mouse, or a chipmunk, she would have her day! Alas, she did not get her day after all. She could smell them and she could see them, but catching them would have to be for the cats.
Checkers was a sweetheart. A gentle soul. Lovingly nick-named Big Soft Dog by my dad. She was the perfect dog to have when our kids came along. She would tolerate the kids along with their mistreatment of her like a second mother. So patient and so aware of her role as a protector and friend.
Neither of the kids have ever known a time without Checkers.
Checkers turned 15 in September of 2016. The vet said that considering her size she had done extraordinarily well over the years, and he was very supportive of her as she aged. Her last years were still happy, but we could see the pain starting to bother her. She was getting old. She had trouble standing. Often she couldn’t get outside soon enough when she needed to go to the bathroom. And so today the time had come for us to let her go and say our goodbyes. This morning, racked with grief, we took her to the vet as a family. There we were able to be with her as she peacefully went on her way, now free from pain.
We now begin to work through it. Grief is like thick and heavy mud. You can try and reject it, but it clings. Time is the only antidote. In the end it dries up (in a number of ways) and you are okay again. Still though you can see that dirty spot on the ground where you were when the mud had you. And if you think about it a little too long, dirt becomes mud again. And so we work through it.
You were a great dog, Checkers. A really great dog. Levi has been saying that there could never be another dog just like her. I think he might be right.
Sing us out, Checkers…