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Boots (February 14th, 1993- March 7th, 2009) German Shepard-Chow mix

This normally isn't my thing; I don't put my heart on my sleeve and I don't share my personal life. This is a milestone in my life, one that knew would come and have dreaded it. I've lost my best friend in the world this weekend. She lived a long life and I hope a good one (16 years and 3 weeks). There were times where I couldn't help but laugh or smile, playing and sharing good times together. There were health problems, scares, fights and upset. All the while she put up with me, and was always at my side. She was so tolerant when in the end, her health problems (arthritis and a mast cell tumor) were painful and restricting. My vet is a wonderful veteranarian; he was compassionate, caring and truly cared for Boots' needs. I have no doubt that he gave us a few more good years with Boots and for that I'm eternally grateful to him and his staff.

Always following me, when her paws became too slick from age to go up and down our stairs safely, we found a company (Ultrapaws) that made booties to help with traction for older dogs like Boots. What a world of difference! That helped with going down the stairs, but with her hips weaker from arthritis, I carried her upstairs each night. For the last year, I've carried her up and down our stairs without a second thought, never thinking it a burden, for all she's given me I owed her some rest and comfort. But right before Thanksgiving, she became sick (an infection, a fluid filled cyst on her toe and a small tumor, which we had a biopsy taken) and I was terrified her time had come. We took her to our vet and discussed the possibilities; it could be treatable (we didn't know at the time) or it may be a sign to let her go. We were lucky: antibiotics and a strong shot to help with her arthritis and she was wonderful. The day that she barked excitedly for a treat, I knew she felt better. All I had hoped for was to get through the Holiday's, have one last Christmas. She gave me that. She was doing so well, I hoped we'd have another birthday too, but then we got the tumor biopsy result back and realized that may be asking too much. Let me tell you, Boots was as tough as nails. She kept going, seeming to not be bothered by the tumor yet and was herself. Our vet didn't think that we'd probably have more than 4 weeks more with her. I was happy for him to be a little bit wrong; she made it three weeks past her birthday (6, almost 7 weeks more than expected) then she finally began to show signs. She was restless and finally the tumor was bothering her as well as the arthritis and no treatment would change this.

I realize now, that it wasn't so much that I gave anything to her, it was that she gave everything to me and sometimes I don't feel like I deserved her. I was holding her to me, even though she was in pain and uncomfortable. She was tough, but I couldn't let her suffer. We couldn't do anything more to improve her quality of life and it was the hardest decision I've ever made. I let her go, holding her head and hoping that the last thought she has was that I loved her and was there with her keeping her safe.

She's been gone a few days and now I find myself hoping to see her around the next corner, barking to go outside, sleeping by my feet, or asking for a treat... and my heart aches when I know she won't be there. I struggle to believe that I did the right thing and that this hole in my heart can someday be filled somewhat. She rests now in our yard, where she loved to sit in the grass, roll around or just sit by my side. She can see the house and I can see her, but not the way I want. I am not a religious person, but for the first time in my life, I pray there is a heaven, that she's there running like a puppy, free of pain and is waiting for me to join her someday.

I'll always miss and love you.
"...If tears could build a stairway and memories were a lane, I would walk right up to heaven and bring you home again..."

-- Paul, Lisa, Melissa (and Sadie)

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