Winnie was already an adult dog when we got her. She was between 2.5 and 3 (or maybe even 4) years old when she came into our lives. The rescue organization told us about her previous life, and how she might still show signs of the abuse. She might be frightened, be distant, and have trust issues. Despite her history, we weren't the only ones who wanted to take her home. They'd received a dozen application and Winnie had had a few interviews with potential families before we came along. We thought we were just going for an interview, too, and that if we were chosen we'd come back to get her. However, Winnie took to us, and within an hour, she was in the car, and on the way home with us. We didn't know her then, so we didn't see the signs, but now we know: she chose us.
It sounds cheesy that she chose us, but that day was special. It was the beginning of the best friendship I've ever known, and one that I'm terrified I will never experience again. Winnie turned out to be the most gentle soul. Everyone could see that. Her kisses were so careful and thoughtful. She consoled me when I was sad, smiled at me when I was happy, and kept me company when I was lonely. I was never lonely with Winnie. She reminded me to enjoy a nice walk on the beach, that bedtime snuggles were always of utmost important, and of the beauty and fun of just lying in the grass or the snow.
Saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I've ever done, and while I know the grief will pass to give way to happy memories and laughter because of all the joy she brought us for the last eight years, it doesn't make it hurt any less. I thought that I was ready, too. I thought that after she was diagnosed with her cancer, I'd have time to prepare myself. She had a 500-day median life expectancy after diagnosis... she lived over 1150. I wasn't ready, and I'm not okay. I miss her. I wish she was still here. She knew I needed her, and I hope she also knows just how grateful I am to have had her in my life. Thank you, Winnie.
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