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    Posted November 29, 2012 by
    Austin, Texas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Loving and losing a dog: Your tributes

    The hole in my heart

    Abby came to live with me when she was just 10 wks old, a little ball of fur with floppy ears. As she grew into her feet, ears, and tail, she became a beauty with a huge heart. She had a goofy, playful side to her and was friendly to people and dogs alike, unless her 6th sense was tingling. She could then be very intimidating; she never hurt anyone, but her bark and her 6th sense gave me peace of mind.

    The mail carrier always greeted Abby and gave her treats at the fence as she wiggled and squeaked her greetings to him. If she was inside when he came by, he'd leave a milk bone perched on the mailbox for her.

    Abby saw me through some very dark times. She very likely saved me from myself a few times. God or the Universe or Whatever had entrusted her to my
    care, and I could not forsake her. Dogs have to go outside and need exercise, so I HAD to get out of bed and I HAD to take her for walks. And, inevitably, I'd feel better after doing so.

    Abby had a variety of health problems, some annoying but ultimately trivial, some life threatening. Three years ago, she was diagnosed with liver failure of unknown cause. The vet didn't think she'd last 6 months. But, Abby bounced back, a bit thinner and slower, but still her same lovable self. The last fifteen months of her life, we battled seizures that came with increasing ferocity, a relentless MRSA infection after surgery for bloat, and finally just progressive decline with her losing control of her bowels and her hind legs. Her spark was fading, and my heart was breaking. I could not bear the thought of telling her goodbye, nor could I bear seeing this majestic animal suffer. We spent a quiet day at home together on July 4 with a couple of short walks and some snuggling in her bed. The next morning, I said goodbye, and an Abby-sized hole opened in my heart.

    For weeks after her passing, I could not say her name without breaking down. I heard her nails clicking on the wood floor. I couldn't wash her bedding for a month as her smell lingered in it. It's been almost five months now, and I still miss her every day, but the feelings are less raw. I told myself I'd wait a year and then decide about another furry friend. In the meantime, I stop neighbors who are walking their dogs and ask them if I can love on their pup for a bit. (They always say yes.) The thought of loving and losing another gives me pause. But, I know the love will win out.
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