Thank You, Winter

Anatole France once said, "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." Well, it's true. As humans, we are far from perfect and more often than not, it is our furry companions that bear the brunt of our imperfections. They don't mind loving us in so many ways we never could.

When he died, I was there. He was moaning faintly but instead of comforting him with my words, I was too stunned to move. I couldn't believe his approaching end. When I hugged him, I thought he was merely yawning but I felt how his heartbeat came to a halt. It pains me that I wasn't able to do anything to alleviate his pain.

Until now, I'm still in a daze. I feel like there's a proverbial hole in my heart that only Winter's cheery spirit can fill. It's the first time that I feel so pained after losing a dog.  I will miss how he consistently waits for me to come home so that we can sleep together - side-by-side. I will always long for those sloppy kisses that he gives as if he's never seen me for years. I will always hear those frantic paw-steps indicating his panic when he can't see me in the house. The house feels so empty without his lambing and kapilyuhan.

Guilt dominates me as well. These past three months, I was too engrossed with my work. Even if I made sure that Winter felt loved, I often came home late. Instead of sleeping, my mom tells me that Winter preferred to wait for me. Perhaps the exhaustion that he felt worsened his illnesses. Three months ago, he was diagnosed with glaucoma - a condition that robs a dog's sight within a few months. I remember crying in the office for days because I dreaded the day that he would be blind. I told myself that with or without vision, my love for him would remain the same. A week ago, another challenge came. While I was in Baguio, my mom and brother brought Winter to our vet because his gums were bleeding. My vet found out that Winter acquired a tongue infection and if antibiotics couldn't cure it, she would need to remove a portion of the tongue. She also suspected that Winter's platelet levels were quite low and blood transfusion might be necessitated. She suggested getting the blood from my Rottweiler but there was no guarantee that Amery's blood type would match with Winter's. That time, it wasn't just my heart that hurt; it's as if every muscle of my body ached. My vet says that Winter's illnesses are hereditary and as much as I want to blame his "ancestors", I have no right because they're also the reasons for my precious companion's existence.

My vet offered "putting my dog to sleep" as an option. I felt that she gave up too quickly. For two years, Winter's faithfulness to me did not waver. There was no way I would give him up without fighting. Nine days after, Winter left me. Hours before his passing, I woke up with him beside me. However, instead of him sleeping like the usual, he was simply staring at me. I should've thanked him for making me the center of his universe.

I know that Winter needs to rest already but I still find myself longing for him. He gave his life but he only asked for little in return. It doesn't matter if God only lent him to me for such short time. Winter taught me that I was capable of caring that much. Our wondrous memories leave me in a state of grace. I'd like to believe that we'd meet again. After all, God won't let a love as pure as this go in vain, right? 

Everybody is born so that they can learn how to love and give devoid of conditions. Perhaps animals already know how to do that so they don't have to stay as long. Winter, thank you for keeping up with me for two years. You're the most wonderful baby I've ever had. Be with me as I overcome this terrible feeling. You will be missed.