I was 13 years old when my family adopted my best friend. We rescued him from Ohio, where he was found with an 8lb chain around his neck in less than ideal conditions. He was a handsome, 9-month old, white lab-pit mix with a few brown spots, and a splash of black on his tail. He sported a lil brown spot on his right eyeball, which inspired his original name, Petey, after the dog in The Little Rascals.
After a couple weeks of “fostering” him, we were able to convince my dad to keep him for good. I was ecstatic to finally have a dog once again, after losing a couple of my first pups to tragic accidents. We decided to rename him Rocky, which was randomly inspired by the Rocky Balboa film series (we thought it would resonate well with my dad). Rocky had a heart-shaped nose, which inspired his middle name, Valentine.
Over the following 13 years, he would not only become my forever Valentine, but the sweetest love I’ve ever come to know. He was the pure embodiment of my rock, my love & my heart.
On July 3, 2021, I lost my best friend. After spending half of my life with him, it was time to come to terms with the fact that his physical life had expired. And because I was unfortunately not there during his final moments, I’m still very much in denial. As much as I can try to convince myself of a theory of what happens to us or animals after death, the unknown is what makes it so surreal.
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” -Roger Caras
How was he just here, and now he’s not? Where did he go? I still feel the wag of his tail drumming against my leg. The warmth of his heart; the presence of his soul – yet it’s no longer tangible. He’s still here; in my thoughts, in my heart, in the love that I give. But I feel the hole in my chest widen with each second that passes without him. I feel a ventricle snap when I catch myself trying to call him around the house, or get a glimpse of my phone’s wallpaper of us. I never got to say goodbye.
It truly is a story of, “who saved who?” Every time our eyes met, or when I’d spoon him on my floor, I was home. He was all I needed to get through whatever my days threw at me. He was my constant in a pool of uncertainty.
“Dogs live too short. Their only fault, really.” -Agnes Sligh Turnbull
There is now an invisible leash that connects me to wherever he might be. Though it’ll take time for my perspective to shift and mindset to accept what is, his memory will forever bring me comfort, knowing that I shared with him my whole heart, as did he with his. My dearest Rock, you are the love of my life, the best thing I’ve ever called mine, and forever my baby seal. I’ll meet you in the light. Rest easy, Rockstar. I love you most.