November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. Given that my dog Luna is coming up on her 14th birthday, I decided to write her a letter letting her know just how much she has changed my life. I thought I would share it here:
You may not realize it, but you took up residence in my heart before we even met. Standing on a street corner in New York City, I picked up a phone call from my friend who had seen you at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, and knew you were the one we had been waiting for. Somehow, as she described you over the phone, I knew it, too.
We were the first people in line at the shelter the next morning. We took you out in the yard—just a tiny white fluff ball—and it was love at first sight. You may recall that your soon-to-be Dad wanted to visit with the little gray Terrier in the cage across from you,“just to meet her.” You had been quiet our entire visit, but the minute you saw the volunteer remove your neighbor from her cage, you barked like crazy—letting us know YOU were the puppy coming home with us. We listened.
From that moment on, you have given us nothing but pure love and joy. Our first baby, your antics broke us in well. We dealt with injuries, a major surgery, and more bodily fluids than we ever imagined. We celebrated when you graduated from training, passed your therapy dog certification test, and cheered as you mastered the agility course with grace and ease.
You take everything that comes your way in stride, even welcoming all four human babies into our house with love—always respecting their boundaries and tolerating their curiosity.
Beyond the unconditional love you so generously give, the physical protection you offer is invaluable. I never worry about intruders, given your motto: “Bark first, ask questions later.” I am always safe with you.
Watching you mature, evolve, and grow has been a gift.
Today, you struggle on the stairs. You have lost your hearing and much of your eyesight. You slip on the floor, have trouble getting up, and sleeping takes up the majority of your day. And though I, of course, understand that being incontinent is not your fault, you never seem to mind when the kids—in their innocent, honest way—break out into the “Luna, smells!” chant. You patiently endure yet another bath, quickly returning to your outpost under the table, licking their feet and waiting for crumbs to magically fall from the sky.
Despite your ailments, you remain one of my greatest teachers. As much as it hurts to go up and down the steep wooden stairs, your desire to run free on the beach and swim in the cool water takes over, and off you go. Your “mind over matter” attitude also allows you to maneuver your snout on the table seeking any yummy bits the kids may have abandoned. (And these days, we usually let you keep your winnings…you’ve earned them!)
Through it all, you have maintained your sweet personality and cling tightly to your pride.
As hard as it is to acknowledge the reality of your health, your strong spirit shines through brightly. Sometimes, in our quiet moments of ear rubs and kisses, my mind drifts off, and I find myself wondering if this is the last season we may have with you. As if reading my mind, you immediately shake me with a quick lick or a sudden movement—steering me away from my negative thoughts and catapulting me back to the present.
Luna, you have impacted not just me and our family, but every single person who reads TAILS. Without you, I may never have had the insight, courage, or desire to create a magazine dedicated to celebrating the relationship between pets and their people.
I realize I have said a lot, but there are two words that sum it up and mean the most:
With all the love and gratitude in the world—