Sometimes when I think of the happiest of days in my life, I see his face.
Every morning I would wake up to his kisses and speckled face staring at me with anticipation to be let out to use the "tree". His whimpering and growl at the door scratching impatiently to get my attention. Covers over my head I would finally start to get up to let him out, his nose pressed hard against the corner of the door and frame.
Freckles. He was my very first dog, the one I connected with at the pound on a spring day- I could hardly leave his holding pin without my eyes starting to well up with tears. You should have seen him. Dainty and spotted from head to toe, his face so cute you could swear he was a cartoon. Everyone collected by his cage all falling in-love...But he was mine, I already knew it.
When I told my mother about him she was intrigued, she went with me to visit him and I knew once she saw him she would fall in-love too. The greatest thing about being a kid is your power of persuasion. All I had to do was a "pretty please" and a smile. He was indeed, mine.
But mom and I had pulled a fast one on my dad. He was a bit out of the loop when we went to the pound to "visit" Freckles. I still remember the look on dad's face when the lady at the front desk said, "Congrats on your new dog!" Oh Lordy....he had no idea...The entire car ride home my dad glared at Freckles. He wasn't happy about our selection at the time, in fact he was a bit peeved that we had somehow snuck this new addition to the family into our home without his consent. I think Freckles knew glancing at my dad, "Oh, you don't like me, do you?"
Having Freckles was the best thing that happened to me. I had an instant brother, a best friend and someone I could take walks with everyday. I loved coming home from school to see him there just waiting for me, wagging tail, whimpering in excitement.
We spent many summers as a family taking him to the park, the beach and of course just simple strolls in the neighborhood. He was my protector too! Often times my mom and dad would hardly worry about me if Freckles was by my side. He had an aggressive personality towards those who were not members of the pack.
When I think back on these moments I sometimes feel tears start to come. Quite possibly the best moments were when I saw my dad start to love Freckles too. I watched as slowly Freckles won my dad over, day after day by just being him; smart and relentless to win over his affections. This amazing discovery of love for a dog who had once been seen as a nuisance was starting to take a special part in my dads heart forever. It was indeed a beautiful thing.
Parting with your dog is a hurtful moment. But unfortunately they don't live as long as we do and well why we may not understand the reasons for that, we must accept and move forward.
I had a special conversation with Freckles the night before he passed. I remember seeing him in that state of slowing, frail and thin, sunken eyes and weak. I crouched next to him placing my hands on his dainty body and said to him..."It's ok, you can go now...I don't like to see you in this pain...I love you so much, you've been my best friend, you can let go..." I swear in that moment he looked up at me and he knew it was time.
The next day he passed, and the conversation lingered in my mind. I believe that was the first time I realized how much death could warp my world. I had grown up with him and he wasn't going to be around anymore. I wouldn't come home to see him in that same spot, nor would I lie next to him watching movies and petting his fur...I floated above my emotions for the first time and somehow pushed away my hurt for months.
Of course those feelings eventually came out, and I dealt with them. But as a sliver of hope always seemed to shine above, Freckles had become like an angel above, watching over and re-surfacing in other forms from dog to dog that followed...and while I don't have one now, I have a feeling there will be another that I bond with in a special way yet again.