Today marks the first anniversary of Charlie’s death, which leaves a hole in my heart that no one and no other pet could fill. His sweet disposition, sensitive spirit, and happy personality are tender memories. I smile to remember his whole-body-wagging excitement over favorite foods and treats and promised walks or rides in the car or guests at the front door. Here’s my all-time favorite photo of him.
I loved being his mom. Taking care of my baby boy was a privilege I couldn’t have imagined. When I think about his big goofy grin and excited bucking whenever I announced, “Charlie, I’m making broccoli!!! for your supper,” I cry. (Funny, my husband never responds to that announcement with the same enthusiasm.) I loved Charlie’s patience with us, too, like not waking us up, even when he wanted something. When I cried, he nuzzled my leg, licked my cheek, and hovered around me till I got my emotional bearings. Wish he were here for today’s tears.
Charlie’s HUGE vocabulary of understood words and communication methods amazed me. For example, he rolled his eyes toward the back door if he wanted to go out on the patio or toward the dog-food cupboard when he was hungry. He went into the bedroom and rolled his eyes up to say he wanted to be lifted up on the bed. If he was on the bed and wanted to be lifted down, he rolled his eyes toward the floor. With so much hair, he didn’t like getting hot, so if he wanted the ceiling fan on, guess where he rolled those big brown eyes. When his water bowl got empty ... you guessed it.
And of course, the standard communication for “I don’t want to ever, ever, ever be in the basement because I might have to endure a bath” was to wriggle away and plod up the basement stairs. Once I carried Charlie to the basement to wait out a tornado warning, and no matter how many times I told him he wasn’t getting a bath, he hustled up those stairs—no small trick since they were slippery wood. Finally, I picked him up, took him upstairs, got his favorite dog bed, brought them both back to the basement, laid him on the bed, and sat down right next to him on the floor. I petted him and talked soothingly with him for a half hour or so until the tornadoes spotted nearby had passed. I was as glad for his presence in my fear as he was for mine.
That was the thing about Charlie. He just wanted to be near us. And we wanted to be near him. Both my husband and I miss him dearly. There’s something about being a dog mom or dad that uniquely shows you what love and joy are.