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My Very Awesome Pug. S

SOMETIMES GRIEF CRUSHES YOU. Sometimes it numbs you. I’d logged far too many hours with Cubbie, my wide- eyed rotund creature, to not feel heart- broken by his death. I was as they say, obsessed. I’d have it no other way. He was my

best friend on four legs, my office man- ager, my confidante, my softest spot before Henry, my son and my most loyal companion before Joe, my husband.

agony he endured over the last few months of his life. I told him how sorry I was for letting it go on so long. I told him how sorry I was for ending it so soon. I assured him that he was the dog of my life, that no matter what pooch came after him, he would always be the one to which every other dog was compared. I could still smell him, feel him and

hear him. I called for him then remem- bered he was gone. I walked through the

ness. When something you love suffers,

you would think letting go would come easy. It didn’t come easy. I needed a sign. I needed permission. From whom, I didn’t know. As strong as I think I am, as wrenching as it was to see Cub slip away, it seemed almost unbearable to be the one to end it. Joe told me it was my choice. I

would have to make peace with it, pull the trigger, then make peace with it all over again. No matter how humane the decision seemed to other people, to me it just felt cruel. Love him madly, then help him die. I wanted more time. I wanted to

turn back time. I wanted to re- experience specific moments in his life with greater awareness and appreciation. I wanted to save him. I wanted to keep him forever. And then I got my sign. It was a Thursday. Henry was at

Joe’s parent’s house for the day. I was at home alone with Cub, who by 3 o’clock in the afternoon had been asleep for 17 hours straight. Despite my reluctance to wake

In the end, he loved Joe as much as

he loved me and I will forever remember my husband kissing his warm, still face in those heavy moments after he was euth- anized. I will forever remember Joe’s grief, because there was no other person on the face of this planet who loved Cub as much as I loved Cub. The first half of Cub’s life was spent on my lap. The second half was spent on Joe’s. Our sidekick is gone, robbed of

time. In December he would have turned nine – 63 in dog years. In the weeks and months that fol-

lowed Cub’s death, I walk around the house clutching his blanket and apologiz- ing to his roly poly pug ghost for the


front door then wondered where he was hiding. I convinced Henry to come in from outside because Cubbie wanted to see him, then I realized I’d just turned our dead dog into toddler bait – mistak- enly of course, because this was something I used to do when he was alive. I would get up, expecting to see him

taking up half the bed, snoring, at ease, alive.

I thought I’d feel relief. When you

spend so many nights kneeling beside an unconscious dog, rubbing his eyes until his seizures end, wiping foam away from his mouth, carrying him outside so he can pee, steadying him so he can poop, scrubbing the kitchen floor when he

him (waking him would often provoke seizures), I lifted him from the bed and gingerly set him on his feet. His blind eyes met mine. “I’m here Cub. You’re OK.” He let out one long raspy breath and

suddenly I felt guilty for waking him. He needed his meds, especially his anti- seizure meds. I folded the pills into a lump of mashed potatoes then I coaxed him into going on a walk. In the days prior, Cub could only

walk in tight circles – another telltale sign of a brain tumor. Nonetheless, I thought if I could get him on a short leash and steer him straight we might make it around one block.

––by Heidi Kurpiela

can’t hold it and bathing him because he fell in it, you’d expect to feel some sort of solace when it’s over. I didn’t feel solace. I only felt sad-

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