Yesterday was not the first day I dealt with the loss of a dog. We always had a dog in my family growing up. When one died, we got another one. The breed was always a wire hair fox terrier and always a male. The dog stayed outside in the backyard (save for cold nights and my mother put him in the laundry room), and I usually feared the dog because of a terrier's usual desire to jump up on its hind legs when you walked towards them.
J.W. and Rocky were integral dogs of my childhood, and Bailey was a wonderful dog during my high school/college years. But when I first lived on my own, I didn't live with a dog for three years. When I decided to move in with Jason in 2004, I was a little concerned about living with a dog under the same roof. Until then, I thought all dogs that lived indoors chewed up valuable material possessions and always peed on carpet.
Yet for the five years I lived with Juliet, a schnauzer/terrier mix, she never chewed anything up and rarely peed on the floor. She was the epitome of a great dog: friendly, upbeat, and usually told you when she needed a bathroom break. She was a perfect pet during parties (even though she was accidentally let out a couple of times) and very importantly, she was there for me when I was the only one home.
I took to Juliet very quickly once I moved in. I voluntarily walked her every single day -- no matter what the weather was like -- helping me stick to a regular routine of walking. That routine led me to walk even farther, then eventually jog, and then get back into riding my bike. Essentially, Juliet gave me the opportunity to keep exercise as a lifestyle, not a nagging hassle.
When Jason moved out and took Juliet with him (she was his dog), I lived exactly one month without a dog. That was a very long month, and things picked up when I brought Victory home four years ago. Now Victory and I live with Jenny and her two dogs, and I can't imagine me and Jenny without dogs in our house.
All of this came from living with a dog for five years. Juliet lived to eighteen, which is an amazing age for any dog. I knew she was going downhill for the past few years. Every time I went to Jason and Dana's house, I made sure I said hello to Juliet and pet her, thinking it might be the last time I see her alive. She was hard of hearing, could barely see, lost a tremendous amount of weight, and was very aloof. She never minded petting, and I was always happy to see her.
I used to not understand why people would be so torn up over the passing of a dog. Now I get it, and I don't regret becoming close to one. I made the most out of every day I had with Juliet, and I make the most of the days I have with Victory, Truvy, and Sunny. Life has been very random with all kinds of difficulties and triumphs in the past two years, and having a dog greet me when I come home always has a healing effect.
And this path to the present was because of one dog. Yes, a dog. They're that important.