The Dog Days of Life

Rebecca - Vancleave, Mississippi
Entered on December 7, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I first met Cassie when I went to visit friends one afternoon in 1991. I walked through the gate into the yard and this beautiful little white fluff-ball came right to me. I fell in love instantly and asked whose little white puppy. They said yours if you want her. I did not think twice and said yes! I do not make such decisions that quickly but this one just seemed so natural.

I believe dogs are an extension of the human soul sent to fill voids in people’s lives. I believe this because Cassie taught me that it is possible to be loved unconditionally. Dogs don’t care what you look like, how rich you are, where you live, or any of the things that people do. They care about you even when no one else does. Dogs are fiercely loyal which was just what I needed because it seemed the people in my life at the time were not. Cassie became a member of my family. She was my family. I did not have children or a relationship that worked in those days. Cassie was a real character; she helped me through some rough times. She was always there when I got up, when I went to bed and happy to see me when I came home. She was my constant companion; we played together, ate at the same time, slept at the same time. If you give a dog a chance they will fill most of the voids and make your life better for it.

When my brother died Cassie was there. When my mother died Cassie was there. When my father was dying from Alzheimer’s disease there was Cassie. She helped me at times when I was frazzled trying to care for him alone. I was alone except for Cassie who would press her body against my father to keep him safe in his chair while I made his dinner. I did not teach her that she just knew. She was there when he died too.

Eight years later after outliving her life expectancy by two years, it was time for me to let her go, a day I knew was coming but I did not want to face was here. How could I let my friend of seventeen years go? This time it was her body and mind that was gone; she was alive but not living. The kindest thing I could do was let her go. So on November 20th 2008, I allowed her to leave me. It did not look as though she would go on her own, so we took that last trip to the veterinarian.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for a loved one is let them go, to erase their pain and feel your own. In my case I am lucky as her life ends mine is just beginning again, most of the voids in my life filled, just as she leaves me.