August 13, 2016 will be the day that will haunt me forever. I am 48 years old and for the last twelve years I have had a Cocker Spaniel that I named Honey Bear. It all started when a co worker was complaining that she had just purchased a Cocker Spaniel puppy, but she had to get rid of her. At the time, I was living alone and thought it would be a good idea if I stepped up and helped. The next day I went to pick up this puppy to bring her home with me. My friend Lisa brought out this little adorable puppy that I instantly fell in love with. She was the cutest dog ever and had a little nub where her tail had been cropped. Her hair was golden and very soft. She was all about being the center of attention.
I had not had a dog since I was a child, and he was an outside dog, so this whole thing was new for me. Lisa told me what to feed her and when to put her in her cage at night. I was bartending at night so I slept in late most days and worked until 3 am at night. The first night I came home Honey Bear was in her cage covered in her own poop. I had to wash her and dry her which took forever. The first two weeks were a nightmare as I tried to get her into a routine for eating and going to the bathroom. Every night when I went to bed, Bear would go into her cage and start crying as I tried to fall asleep. This made me upset, but that is how she was raised as a puppy. Night after night it went on until I decided to let her stay out of the cage one night. I realized as Bear cuddled up to me on my bed, that she just wanted to be next to me. It took a while to get used to it, but I found that I was sleeping better with her in the bed. When I had days off I would take Bear to the dog park or for rides in the car. She grew to be my best friend. It was seriously like having a kid. I would leave parties or outings early to get home and care for her. I would feel guilty if I stayed out late and wasn’t giving her the attention she deserved.
Eventually our life was a perfect routine of walks and play time. I was dating here and there but was single for the most part. The years clicked by, and every time I left for vacation or business, I would worry about my Honey Bear. I am a big guy that took a lot of ribbing for how I was with her. My friends would laugh when I posted pics of us, but that didn’t matter to me. This little dog had saved me from myself. Having a living creature depend on you for survival was something I took very seriously. I have no children so I looked at her as my child. Every day and night when I would return, her excitement to see me made me very happy. No matter how crappy the day was, she was there to lift my spirits. I met a girl and started getting serious when Honey Bear was 6. The girl loved dogs and was great to Bear. We moved in together and eventually got married. The whole time Honey Bear found time to steal my heart every day. My wife and I ended up splitting up and getting a divorce after a couple years. It was a very difficult time but my Honey Bear was always there to keep me going.
Honey Bear and I eventually moved on and life was good. Every night she would lay next to me on the couch and fall asleep as I would rub her belly. I started my own business, and had more time at home, so our bond was as strong as ever. For twelve years Honey Bear and I were a family and she was the best dog a person could want. She loved all people and was an attention grabber. I could see human traits like empathy and sadness, when something went wrong in my life. I planned my vacations to only be 4 days so that I could return to see her happy face. Last year in July, I started to notice Honey Bear becoming a little lethargic. Vet visits yielded nothing except that she was getting old. My dread at thinking of her passing bothered me daily. I pushed it out of my head and gave her the best life possible. I never shunned her attempts for attention because I knew she would not be here someday.
Then in July of 2016 Honey Bear became ill and I took her to the emergency Vet. The doctor said she was just old and to take her home. I didn’t realize how quickly she would decline. On August 13th I woke up and Bear was no where to be found. Eventually I found her behind the couch hiding. I picked her up and she threw up her food from the night before. We went to the Vet and they gave me the grim news I had been dreading since the day I got her. She had cancer and there was nothing we could do to save her. She was in discomfort so I gave them the go ahead to put her down. They gave her a tranquilizer and left the room so I could say goodbye. She fell asleep as I cried rocking her back and forth. I was a grown man crying like a baby and I couldn’t stop. I held her in my arms as they inserted the IV and pushed to drugs to stop her heart and breathing. It was the toughest moment in my life. I have lost loved ones and it was nothing like this. I told her I loved her over and over as she slipped away. I decided to write this post as some sort of healing process. Six months have passed and I miss her everyday. I find toys or clothes that were hers and I break down. I am a grown man that is not ashamed to say that I loved a dog more than any person I have ever known. Dogs have all the best traits we seek from other humans. Dogs love unconditionally and only want approval in return. They defend fiercely if needed. They are loyal and there is nothing that will make them change. They are family and losing them hurts us forever. I will get another dog soon, but in the meantime, I will cherish the joy that was brought to me by my best friend. Honey Bear.