Twelve years ago, I brought home a wiggly little fluff ball of a border collie puppy and named him Eddie. Yesterday, we had to say goodbye for now. This is the story of our journey.
I was 19 when I left for the Air Force. I turned 20 at basic training and before my 21st birthday, I was already in Iraq. Since my first duty station was overseas in Japan, I didn’t have any family there waiting for me to come home or to keep me company. So I decided I was getting a puppy. A border collie puppy to be exact. And it just so happened a wonderful lady in Chicago had puppies that were going to be ready for new homes just as I was to be in the States on leave following my deployment. The only problem was… All her puppies were spoken for. But Eddie was always meant to be mine and as luck would have it, his original adopter backed out. So, I sent that nice lady a check all the way from Iraq. I flew home to St. Louis, drove five hours to Chicago and then back again for that puppy. On that day in 2004, we began our life together. From St. Louis we visited Idaho, Oregon and Washington before we made our way across the world to home in Japan.
And boy it was not easy at first! If you’ve ever raised a puppy you understand. If you’ve ever raised a border collie puppy then bless your heart cause you feel me on this. Eddie was the smartest little puppy. He learned so many tricks and commands, but he also learned how to chew up all my furniture and carpet. He apparently thought that bitter apple chew deterrent spray was delicious too. Nothing was safe till Eddie turned about two years old. Until then, he was affectionately know as “Eddie, NO!”
For his first 18 months or so with me, we were stationed in Misawa, Japan. Eddie and I toured the countryside together visiting all the cool places we could. Japan is a really dog friendly place so it was easy to take him almost everywhere with me.
Next we moved to Florida for two years where we had a few different roommates of the both two and four legged variety. We went to South Beach and Tampa. We visited the Florida Keys together. We did Disney (Eddie more so from the hotel room but I bought him Mickey ears so it counts!).
From Florida, we were moved to Langely AFB in Hampton, Virginia. We spent four years enjoying more dog beaches, Virginia Beach and visiting the Outter Banks in NC.
Eddie and I decided we had finally had enough of the military life and in 2010, ‘we’ married a lucky guy from Winchester, Virginia and we have called this town home since.
Today I took my Eddie out for one last adventure. Just me and him, just how he always liked it.
But if we were going to have just one day left, we were going to make it a good one. We went to Eddie’s favorite park. Where I surprised him with a bag of 18 fresh new tennis balls. His most FAVORITE toy in the world. He chased them like he was a puppy again. He chewed on them. He rolled in them. And he looked pretty darn pleased with himself the entire time.
As a photographer, Eddie has always been one of my very favorite models. He’s a real professional if you can’t tell. So we of course took some pictures for his ‘portfolio’ which I will cherish forever.
He was tolerant with me for MOST of the photo session.
Once Eddie was too tired to continue at the park, he rode shot gun so we could go pick up some cheeseburgers. He was pretty pleased with this decision too.
We came home for bit to rest and so his ‘Nana’ and ‘brother’ Ricco could say goodbye. Nana surprised Eddie with a giant ball. Eddie has always loved these and a they have been know to last anywhere from 2 seconds to 2 days…. This particular ball existed for about 20 minutes which was just enough time for Eddie to be too tired to continue.
I clock watched all day to his 4pm appointment. And it was time to leave for that last ride. We drove for a bit. And we stopped for ice cream.
And when I could stall no longer, we made our way across town to the vet. Nothing prepared me to walk in to that room and see the large blanket on the floor. Nothing prepared me for the information the vet gave me covering what was about to happen. I cried. I sobbed. But I sat down on that blanket, and I held him on my lap. I talked to him. I told him I loved him. I thanked him for being my forever dog. And I asked him to forgive me and to find a way to let me know he was at peace somehow. I cried some more. I kissed his nose. And then he was gone. I sat with him on my lap for sometime, petting his soft fur for the last time. I wished I hadn’t shaved him only two weeks before, but I know he was much more comfortable that way. The vet came back in because she understood I didn’t want to leave him alone in the room. I gave him his tennis ball to keep with him. And I left alone and heartbroken but took solace in the fact he would always be in heart and was no longer in pain.
I have always heard people talk about pets crossing over the rainbow bridge. And that night, on my way through town, there were three different rainbows in the sky in any direction I looked. It wasn’t even rainy out. We also had the most beautiful and colorful sunset I’ve ever seen. Thank you Eddie for making your mama’s heart a little bit lighter just one more time.