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    Posted November 28, 2012 by
    Haverhill, Massachusetts
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Loving and losing a dog: Your tributes

    "My bestest boy"


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     CoachDB1 says she can 'absolutely relate' to singer Fiona Apple's decision to cancel her concerts for her dog. 'Right around the time that Dickens was diagnosed, I had started looking for another job. I made a decision to stay where I was because I knew I could flex my schedule or take time off as necessary if he needed it. I would not have been able to forgive myself if I wasn't there for him. I had to return the love and devotion that he had given me.'
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    I always told people that Dickens chose me & not vice versa. I had my eye on another pup in the litter but was distracted by a persistent tugging at my pants leg. I looked down to find a gangly mess that was all floppy ears, tail & paws. When I sat down on the floor, this pup climbed into my lap and into my heart where he lives today.

    He was named Dickens because he was whelped on Christmas Day & "A Christmas Carol" is one of my favorite stories. He loved getting his presents on Christmas morning, sticking his blocky head into the gift bags & removing the tissue paper one piece at a time until he reached the bag of treats or - HEAVEN! - a stuffed toy to disembowel in less than 10 minutes.

    He was mischievous & an inveterate food thief who had a taste for pizza "bones", jalapenos & pepper jack cheese. He once ran away from me at Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA - running down the entire length of the beach & back in pure canine joyous abandon. In puppyhood, he destroyed half of my baseball cap collection & I walked around with no insoles in my shoes for 2 years. He was also the most loving soul I have ever met, my boon companion whether we were being couch potatoes together or going away for a few days.

    Dickens lived the last several years with a number of medical problems including a stroke in his spine & Addison's disease. In July, 2010, I was told he had advanced kidney disease & that the outlook wasn't good. Part of me hoped that he would pass away peacefully in his sleep so I wouldn't have to make the hardest decision of my life. Did I mention he was stubborn? My bestest boy hung in there to get through his 11th birthday and about 2 weeks later, I sat on the floor by his side, whispering "Thank you, buddy" into his ear as he took his last breath.

    I have his ashes. They will be buried with me.

    Erinhill's Christmas Carol "Dickens" 12/25/99-1/11/11
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