The day I lost my brother, my best friend and my boyfriend- a pet is the only thing in the world that can be all those things at once. One day, I came home from middle school and my parents surprised us with a puppy. When we first saw him at the breeder’s house, I said I didn’t want him and that we didn’t need a puppy. I was SO wrong.
We named him Manny because he was the little man in the house- joining me and my two sisters. He was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever and he was perfect. Wavy dead grass colored fur and the most handsome face in the world. The kind of dog that everyone wanted to see when they came over. He even sang. His favorite song was ‘Happy Birthday’. Friends made him sing it even if there were no birthdays to celebrate. One time, my sisters and I were playing Rock Band and he joined in on ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’. We kept playing on even though it was hilarious. My drumstick even broke mid-song. I guess he just wanted to show us his back-up vocal skills.
He listened. He was extremely smart. At dinnertime, he knew he wasn’t allowed in the dining room, so he’d lie right behind the line that separates the dining room and living room. He always knew when we were having pasta for dinner. It was his favorite. You’d think, being a dog, meat would be his favorite. Nope, he craved pasta. And yes, we definitely have some Lady and the Tramp style photos somewhere.
I could go on and on about favorites, but I guess I should get back to that day. The day we had to put him down. (I hate those words.) It was the worst thing I’ve ever been through. He wasn’t doing so well. His legs puffed up. He couldn’t walk anymore without being held by someone. He went to the bathroom where he sat/slept. His eyes were hazy. He whimpered at night. He just couldn’t control his own body anymore.
I took off from work to come home a few days before his appointment. I needed to spend his last days with him. I took care of him and slept downstairs where he was sleeping. We fed him like a king- giving him everything we ate for dinners. Even though my family members thought I shouldn’t go to the appointment, I did.
I couldn’t say goodbye from home. I couldn’t let my dad do it alone. I couldn’t let Manny leave without me.
On the car ride there, the radio played Rolling Stones “Wild Horses.” I found it fitting. Wild horses really couldn’t drag me away. I wanted him in my life forever. He was my constant. My favorite. The one I looked forward to seeing when I came home.
We laid him on the doctor’s table. I couldn’t breathe. Was this really happening? Am I really going to watch someone I love die? The doctor came back with a huge needle and explained what was going to happen. Tears fell from my eyes under my sunglasses. The doctor’s assistant handed me his collar and I held it in my hand with a tight grip.
I watched the light fade from his eyes until he wasn’t there. My heart sunk. I watched my dad wipe tears from his eyes as he bent down to the table to say his goodbyes. Seeing my dad cry makes me cry even more. I held onto his paw one last time- wishing it wasn’t the last. My dad said it was time to go. So we left. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
There was a Grey’s Anatomy episode back in season two. Dr. Burke had gotten shot and had surgery. Cristina hadn’t seen him all day. When she finally did, she crept into bed with him and hugged him tightly whispering, “Don’t ever die.” After the episode ended, I went over to Manny, lifted his floppy ear and whispered, “Don’t ever die.” I knew it was an impossible task, but loving someone so much makes us want to hold on. And hold on forever.
Sam Kirschberg is a Long Islander living in NYC. She writes for HelloGiggles. She was once nicknamed Nelly (the rapper with the band-aid, not Furtado) during the summer of ’05. Believer in jinxes and signs, beanies and hoodies, pineapple and pizza, puppies and snow days..among other things. One day she hopes to be married and have “You jump”/“I jump” friendship bracelets with her spouse. (That’s how much she loves Titanic.) You can follow her on twitter @chillsochill or on her tumblr.