I never knew how much I could cry. I mean, if I’m being honest, I’m still surprised I can cry at all. But over the past few weeks I might’ve solved California’s drought problems if I just harvested my tears. After eight-and-a-half short years, I had to say goodbye to my sidekick, my wingman, my favorite, my puppers, my little chicken, my Radley.
She was a warrior, a boss, and the sweetest girl I’ve ever known. Like me, she was obstinate, defiant, and independent. Unlike me, she loved people more than anything and the smile she would show when there was a new person she got to lick warmed even my cold heart.
When cancer came for her leg she gave it up like a champ. Seeing her after her surgery was the hardest day for me, second only to the day I lost her, but soon after she was running, jumping and bouncing around like she always did. She was a loyal protector, always keeping me safe from mailmen, squirrels and Amazon delivery drivers. But cancer sucks, and it when it came back hard, her little body fought as long as she could.
I know she had a good life. She made it to seven states. She’s played in a foot of snow and swam in an ocean. She ate enough peanut butter to keep Skippy in business and never was more than three feet from something that squeaked. She joined me at restaurants, on hikes, and had several dog friends she hung out with. Because I traveled a lot, there was a rotating group of friends that would take care of while I was gone, each and every one she adored. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier. Even by boxer standards, her life was too short. I expected a full decade at worst and I just feel cheated.
I don’t know if anything will make me feel such un-cynical joy as I did when I would watch her run, with full dopey reckless abandon. It was unadulterated happiness on her face and I am lucky just to have been able to witness it. Even when she lost her leg, she never lost her enjoyment of running, she just went a bit slower and stayed a bit closer.
I was never her favorite person. She always defaulted to the newest person in the room, saving the requisite minimum amount of excitement for me. But she loved me best. My every move was important to her. She would usually follow me into every room I would move to, no matter how brief I would be. At the end, when she could no longer follow me from room to room, or couldn’t make it up the stairs without me carrying her, it wrecked me. I still kept her close, but even if I was in the kitchen and she stayed in the family room, I would miss her.
I don’t think there’s any good way to go through this, but I know that I was lucky. I was lucky that the doctors found the cancer in her lungs, and I knew the end was coming. I was lucky that I wasn’t working or traveling and I had time to spend with her, even if it was just being in the same room, or rubbing her belly while she laid with me (oh she gave good snugs).
I can honestly say she was the first thing in my life that I ever truly put first. Her needs came first, whether it was just needing to go outside every few hours as a puppy, or the acupuncture and water therapy she needed when her remaining back leg was overtaxed.
She was my reason for coming home every night. She was the first thing I took care of when I woke up in the morning. I had no idea how many things I would have to adjust now that she’s gone. My house has never been this empty. I still catch myself looking for her or waiting for her. Thankfully, I’ve come short of calling out for her, but who knows. I know I’ll get through this, but right now I’m just devastated. I’ll be okay, but man it sucks right now.
Rest in Peace, Raddleboo
I’ll miss you forever.