Holly, my “big girl”, left us today to bark with Hannah in the doggy afterlife. “Big” was a relative term to distinguish her from Hannah as neither were larger than our cat. The last three years have been equal parts wonderful and difficult, but we made the most out of them. After Hannah’s passing and a rough dental, we didn’t know how long Holly would last. Through three years of aging and two years of seizures she persevered, eating, drinking, walking, and loving each day.
She was a tough dog – living three months shy of eighteen. We thought her time had come numerous times and she just kept going. She fell completely down our wooden basement stairs twice in the last two years and ended with nothing more than a lip bleed. She endured 30 seizures that left her unable to walk for hours. By the next day she was back to normal. She started losing control of her legs to the point that she couldn’t stand up only to regain control the next day. Starting in 2016, each holiday was a milestone – would she make it to Thanksgiving, to Christmas, to the boys’ birthday, through my Seattle trip, to summer, to fall. Time passed and each milestone was shattered.
Up until a few weeks ago she spent her days walking around the house, checking on everyone like she always had. She was never a play dog, preferring to keep track of everything happening in the house and making sure all of the people and animals were following the rules. She loved being around people and in her later years enjoyed sitting on my lap while I rubbed her ears until she fell asleep.
The boys developed a deep relationship with her recently that has been special to watch. Though they were frustrated at first when she walked on their drawings and knocked over their toys, they began to understand that she didn’t mean it and we’d catch them gently moving her away and calmly talking to her. They would come up to her in her bed and pet her gently and cuddle. They told her she was pretty and cute even when she was covered in gunk and mess. When we told them it was time for her to pass, they cried with us, cuddled with her, and gave her a goodbye kiss.
We are sad that she is gone but relieved as well. Her last couple of years have been difficult and messy as she aged and became more uncomfortable and less able to control her body. The seizures didn’t help, nor did the 2 AM bathroom / feeding / wandering schedule that Sally dealt with. As our kitchen renovation wound up she became more and more uncomfortable in our bed so we moved her to a penned-in area in our bedroom. Even though she snuggled with Sally 99% of the time the bed felt empty without her. She got to spend one more time in our bed last night, cuddling under my arm. I think it was the most comfortable she had been in a while and I’m fortunate to have had that moment.
I miss her but I think we made the most of our time together in the past few years. I regret not catching Hannah early enough; even if she still passed we would have had weeks with her not days. I’m glad we’ve been able to have years with Holly, extracting so many little moments along the way. I will always remember our cuddles in bed and snuggles on the couch, the way she laid her muzzle on me when she slept, the groaning noise she used to make when you rubbed her belly. Even though her teeth were always rotting, she was a lovable, if stinky, dog.
Our house will not be the same anymore. We have cats but they take care of themselves. We will no longer be greeted by the barks of a sleepy dog, will no longer have another mouth to feed when we get home, will no longer go outside for a series of bathroom breaks throughout the day. We won’t have the “click-clack” of feet walking from room to room, peeking in to see who is doing what. Our two little dogs were a big part of our life and their chapter has now closed. It’s going to take a while to adjust but we aren’t going to get another dog for a long time.
It hurts, but we had our quality time. It will never be enough and I’ll always want just one more hug, but we spent meaningful time together and have so many memories. I love you Holly and miss you so much.