This morning the doorbell rang, and a snuggled up FedEx driver stood with a package bearing my name. I greeted him with a smile and “Merry Christmas,” as he passed me the box. I quickly opened it, eager to place it under the tree. To my surprise, inside was a little wooden box, with a beautiful gold plate on it, reading “Charlie.” There he was, my boy, in a box.
It has been a week since we lost our 11 year-old mutt Charlie. He came as a brand new puppy and grew up with my girls. He played with them in the snow and eagerly helped them make snowmen. He was at the door to greet every trick-or-treater on Halloween. He ate hot dogs with us each Fourth of July. He went to most soccer and lacrosse games throughout middle school, high school, and even college. He helped the girls secretly throw house parties while Ken and I were away. He cuddled with them through each heartbreak. He helped me host two middle school, two high school, and one college graduation party. He saw Lucy off to Vanderbilt and was at the door to welcome her home from Africa. He stayed up long hours with Maggie while she crammed for graduate school tests. He grieved the death of his best friend, Izzy and reluctantly took on parenting the newest family addition, Cooper. His deep brown eyes brought more comfort than one can know.
Losing a pet brings a sorrow that is quite hard to understand until you experience it. It comes with a gut-wrenching ache as you watch them in pain and it is accompanied by a deep sense of grief as you say goodbye to someone you love so deeply. More than that, however, you feel an unwavering sense of gratitude. As I said goodbye to Charlie in his final days, I thanked him for loving each of us so unconditionally. I thanked him for helping Ken and me raise our two girls, and I thanked him for teaching all of us what it means to truly love the simple and important things in life. I asked him to give Izzy a hug and watch over everyone we love from up there!
As the days with our dogs come and go, we don’t always appreciate the magnitude of their impact. We don’t see them as anything but a part of our routine. But as they slip away, whether suddenly or over time, it becomes clear how big of a paw print they leave on our hearts, lives, and families. So once again, I thank you Charlie, for helping to make the Maloney family what it is, and for always leaving room for my feet at the foot of the bed. –Sara Campbell
My Charlie played outside yesterday, napped by the fire last night and slipped away early this morning. A dog's dog. Stole away in Marion every chance he could to taunt those confined by electric fences, then off to hours of adventure chasing foxes, swimming and showing his boxer buddy the ways a real dog should be, returning when he felt like it; joyful and satiated (for the day). Lived to give the mailman a piece of his mind every day of his life. Liked his space but never missed a 5 minute head rub when I stirred in the morning. A great dog who helped make our family who we are today. Catch that fox Charlie boy! –Ken Maloney