This I Believe

Amanda - Madison, Connecticut
Entered on April 21, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

It is hard to fall asleep nowadays. It is hard to go home for vacations. It is hard to do much of anything. Everything reminds me of him. When I look in the mirror, I see what he made me become. I see the strength that he gave me every day, even though he never said a word. He didn’t have to. The glimmer in his eyes said it all.

One of my friends once told me, that everyone and everything in your life has a purpose. Every being that you meet teaches you something, both about yourself and humanity. It is hard sometimes to see how, but if you look deep enough, you will see it. Most of the time, unfortunately, you will not see it until they have left your life. That is usually when you look back at how they affected your life, how they changed you, and how you changed them.

It’s hard to put into perspective what death does to a person. It is an individual reaction that cannot be expressed in words. The hardest death that I have had to endure came on December 28, 2008 at around five in the morning.

Dakota was the most beautiful Samoyed I have ever seen in my life. His smile was the kind that would wipe the tears from your face. From the day we brought him home, I knew that we were going to have an incomparable connection. His ears were the size of quarters, and were as soft as velvet. His paws were huge, just giving us an idea of the enormous animal he was going to become. But it all came back to those eyes and that smile. His eyes were a black oblivion, but yet the glimmer brought him to life. His smile went ear to ear, and never went away, even when we would discipline him. His trademark “Sammy Smile” matched with his sparkling eyes is what connected us from the beginning.

Yes, he was my dog, and some people would say that he was “just a dog”, but if they knew what he meant to me, they wouldn’t say that. He came home on August 22, 2001. I was eleven at the time, and just before I entered middle school. The years went by, and we grew up together. Everyone knows the trials and tribulations of middle school and then high school. A child develops into the kind of person that they are going to be throughout those years. I firmly believe that Dakota was the reason I became the person I am today.

Everytime I cried, he could sense it. I would just cuddle up in his blanket of fur, and I would just cry. He would sit there in silence, and just let me cry. When I felt like I was okay, he would put that smile back on, and cheer me up. No matter how bad my day was at school or at soccer practice, I always had that one saving grace; that I would soon be home to see my puppy (to this day I still call him my puppy, and even though he grew up and matured, he will always be my puppy). Every day I would come home from school to him sitting at the open front door, smiling and wagging his tail. When I come home from soccer tournaments, no matter how tired I was, when I saw Koty, my spirits were lifted, and I would always greet him with the same energy that he gave me.

As High School was ending, I was getting busier, between work, school, college stuff, and soccer; I did not spend a lot of time with him. My sister went off to college a year before me, and that’s when it hit me, that I’d be following in her footsteps soon enough. Although it made me sad, I looked forward to my senior year, and moving on with my life outside of Madison, Connecticut. Summer came, and I was getting ready for college and spending all my time working and relaxing. Koty and I were together every day, and spent hours every day just outside, him lying next to me while I tanned or went swimming, or whatever the activity may have been. The summer flew by, and I was off to school. The day I said goodbye to my puppy was the day my heart broke a bit. But I was excited to come home at the end of September to see him.

Every time I would go home, he would be waiting at the door, and you could tell that he was surprised to see me. My parents told me that when I wasn’t home, he was incredibly depressed and barely ever smiled. But when I came home, he came to life. But then Christmas break came.

At the beginning of Christmas break, he was having trouble walking, so we took him to the veterinarian. He stayed there for almost a week. They diagnosed him with Lyme Disease, but also with something else that they could not understand. His body was not retaining glucose, and that accounted for the weakness and his lack of energy. They sent him home while they were waiting for the test results. He would constantly cry in pain. He was always uncomfortable, but there was nothing that we could do. He came home on a Friday. Still, when he saw me, his face brightened up with the little energy that he had. Friday night, my mom slept downstairs with him to comfort him, but with little effort. I called out of work on Saturday to spend the day with him. We watched movies all day (and yes, he actually would watch the TV), and I tried to get him to eat something, with no success. Saturday night came, and he seemed like he was getting better. I slept right next to him Saturday night, and I stayed up till 2am just talking to him, telling him how much I love him and that he was going to get better. I remember the last thing he did before I fell asleep was lick my hand.

I woke up at 5am in a panic. Not because I heard a noise, but because I felt like something was wrong. Dakota had died in his sleep.

It was at that moment, that a part of me died as well. To this day, I’m not over it. I still cry myself to sleep sometimes, and every time I see a picture of him, I break down.

I woke up that morning because something I felt, deep down, had died. The connection that Dakota and I had went deeper than just owner and dog. He became a part of who I was. But as the weeks went by, and when I would come home for the weekend or spring break, I would expect him to greet me at the door the same way. But he didn’t. The house grows more silent every day. But then when I came back from Spring Break, disheartened and exhausted from crying, my good friend said one of my favorite quotes from my favorite movie. “Life is full of meetings and partings; that is the way of it” Just because “that is the way of it”, doesn’t mean it makes it easier. He was my best friend, my confidant, and the one person that could cheer me up no matter what. He was the one influence on my life I never thought I’d lose, and he was taken from me way too soon.