June 2010 – August 3, 2022
I remember the day I brought you home. I drove through a blizzard in my little 2WD Honda CRV from Maryland to Ohio. You had been pulled from a puppy mill by a rescue group there. Locked in a cage for the first 6 months of your life and terrified of everything. You wanted nothing to do with me when I arrived, but I sat on the floor with my back to you and eventually you came around and sniffed my hand. From that moment on, you were mine and I swore I would protect you from anything else you could fear. I remember you howling at a siren at the top of your lungs on the drive home and how hard I laughed. You were a doofus with a big fuzzy head and paws five times too big.
When I met Adam 2 years later, you peed all over the floor every time he walked in the door. Adam knew if he was going to win me over, he had to go through you, and he would drive almost an hour to visit just to take you for walks. He took you to training classes and was so proud when he taught you small tricks. Eventually you decided he was a keeper. Thank you for making sure he passed the test.
It took years of work but you finally came out of your shell. You passed your Canine Good Citizen test and took to therapy dog work like you were born for it. You taught kids to read, visited senior centers, and pranced through the halls of the VA Hospital. You brought happiness to so many people. You kept training, passed your public access tests, and became my service dog. I survived because of you.
You loved crazy weather. The more wind the better. During Superstorm Sandy in 2012 you sat on my balcony in Virginia while gale force wind and rain whipped around, just happy as a clam. I promised you would get to play in the snow every year, and I kept that promise, notwithstanding the year I rented you a “snow machine” that turned out to blow bubbles not real snow. Epic fail. The next year we took you on a trip to Durango to make up for it. We played in the Dallas snow storms in 2020 and 2021. You laid in every mud puddle you could find.
I think the only thing you loved more in life was sugar. Given the choice between ice cream and a steak you’d take the bowl of vanilla any day. Frosting, creme brûlée, whipped cream. It was all a win for your sweet tooth.
I want to remember the perfect little heart on your head so I knew exactly where to kiss you. Your round baby bear paws that turned into fuzzy little grinch feet if not trimmed and your adorable crossed legs. That horribly judgy look you gave me every time we brought a new dog home. You were the founding member of the Pope Pack, and eventually came to accept them all, but couldn’t stoop to their level of shenanigans and liked to be the Fun Police. I have so many photos of the other 5 playing around and you’re not in them, because you’re standing right next to me looking down your nose at their nonsense. I will miss the never ending amounts of sass you gave Adam knowing he would jump through any hoop to keep you happy because it made me happy, then the smug look you’d give him after knowing you’d won.
I want to remember how you’d come curl up in my lap when I sat on the floor with my legs in a V and the way you’d lean in and wrap your neck around mine when I hugged you. If I rubbed my face on yours, you’d reciprocate and rub yours back.
left: © The Artisan Hound; right: © Caroline Vaughn Photography
Your life expectancy as a Bernese Mountain Dog was 8-10, and I begged you to give me all 10. You did, and then 11 and 12 were a greater gift than I could have asked for. You took cancer head on twice and came out strong. I had an entire bank account set aside to fight anything that thought it could take you from me. But in the end, I couldn’t buy time. I couldn’t stop you from getting old. And your tired body gave me every last hour it possibly could. You slipped away peacefully in my arms and went into the heavens, but I will never let you go.
You are the reason Adam and I are married.
You are the reason I found my purpose in life and am fortunate enough to call it a job.
You are the reason I made it through hell and came out stronger on multiple occasions.
You are the reason I am who I am today.
You are my everything.
I will embrace the pain of losing you every day of my life to know you don’t have another moment with any pain of your own. Your legacy will live forever in my heart and behind every photo I create for a client. Say hi to Hannah for me and promise you’ll meet me under the willow tree in the snow covered meadows in my dreams. I love you so much.
Haute Dog Pet Photography
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