We got Harper when she was 8 weeks old. A tiny, chocolate drop of fluff and fun. She bounced like a rabbit, and her whole body wagged when she wagged her tail. She was, literally, only about as tall as a blade of grass
Every year during my 30 days of thanks, I repeat how thankful I am for Harper. Everyone who knows me knows my Harper story. She was just about 12 weeks old when I was hospitalized in ICU. I had MRSA and a gram negative infection that was resistant to antibiotics, and it was a really rough road. I was eventually put on a wound VAC, and due to the daily visits from home care nursing, I was stuck at home most of the time. I couldn’t do much, and I couldn’t sleep in my bed because I couldn’t lay down properly. I spent most of my days – and nights – propped up in a recliner.
And Harper never left my side.
I often wondered how a puppy so young, with such boundless energy, could sit so still – in my lap, on the arm of my chair, by my feet – for hours on end. But I was then – as I am now – so grateful to have her by my side, keeping me company, always making me feel better, offering comfort and bringing peace.
She was rewarded. Starbucks has always been a particular favorite, but Harper and car rides have just always been a perfect match – even if there wasn’t a puppacino in it for her. A couple of times, she got out the front door on her own, and we always knew if we opened a car door, that’s right where she ran.
She made herself top dog in the house – despite her petite stature. The other dogs knew that if they left a bone or a treat anywhere in the house, it not only became Harper’s, but she would take it, hide it, and guard it like a ferocious watchdog if the other dogs came near. Growling, snapping, sneering – every stolen treat was a trophy to be savored and lorded over the other dogs.
I will be grateful for Harper forever – as long as I live. But this is the lsat year that I will include her in my 30 days of thanks.
Because today, my dedicated companion and faithful friend is gone.
I knew it was coming. She lost her hearing about a couple of years ago, and she’s battled eye infections and vision problems. She struggles to get up and down the stairs – well, unless she’s racing another dog for a treat. She’s had some digestive issues and breathing issues in the last few weeks. She snapped at people – except me – but including the vet tech today when Jim took her in.
He noticed her struggling to breathe this morning, and took her to the vet. She was anxious, struggling for air, and agitated. The vet examined every inch of her. She was for sure deaf. She didn’t seem to follow his movements with her eyes. Her sense of smell seemed to be gone. He suspected maybe a brain tumor.
And like that, my tiny girl is gone.
What was humane for Harper and safer for my grandchildren is a searing heartache for me. With the new job and school, there hasn’t been as much time to cuddle, to make a Starbucks run, or even to answer the little scratches on the side of my bed when she wanted to come up in the middle of the night.
I know – don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. And I will, some day.
But for today, I’ll be sad that I couldn’t be here for her like she was for me – always, every minute, any time I needed her.
Best dog ever.