It’s hard to say goodbye to a pet; they’re a member of the family who bestows unconditional love…well perhaps in exchange for a few belly rubs and carrots. That was Crosby. For the past 9.5 years, he has been our loyal companion and fierce protector. If you saw him on the street, you might have been scared of our 100-lb pit bull mix, but if you knew Crosby, you knew that he was nothing but a gentle giant.
Crosby, it turns out, loved carrots.
In fact, he loved anything that I was chopping up in the kitchen: zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, watermelon, cucumbers (oh, except eggplant. He took a hard pass on that) If he heard the knife hitting the cutting board, he was instantly by my side and would look up at me with his brown puppy dog eyes and patiently wait for a veggie to hit the floor. Yesterday as I was chopping veggies for dinner, there was no rattle of dog tags or clickety clack of his nails on the floor as he ambled toward me in the kitchen, and the profound silence of that moment hit me like a ton of bricks. The hardest part about saying goodbye to a pet is the silence that remains after they’re gone. I miss him so much.
We adopted Crosby when he was just 10 weeks old. To be honest, he was never an easy dog to own. He had chronic allergies and didn’t play nicely with other dogs. He got kicked out of doggy day care when he was about 2 because he didn’t understand the basic canine hierarchy and tried to be the boss of everyone. He had sensitive nails that he wouldn’t allow anyone to cut unless he was completely under. He was fiercely protective and was even taken to court once with the accusation of being “a vicious dog”. He got hit by a car after running out of our yard. He developed adult diabetes and required 2 insulin shots a day, one at 7am and one at 7pm. My kids say it was all the carrots.
But my god, he was a love.
After the divorce, Crosby stayed with me. It was so lonely to be in a kidless house 50% of the time, and Crosby knew that. He would sit with me at my bedside and every morning he’d compete for space on my yoga mat. He would be right by my side while I cooked and would take walks with me out to see the sunset. And then it got hard for him to walk. In early January of this year his legs started to give out on him. He had a fall in the backyard where he couldn’t get up and that’s when I knew that something was really wrong. I took him to the ER where he stayed for 4 nights and it was then that I learned that dogs could be diabetic. At the time, I didn’t know if I could take on the care regime for a diabetic dog as I was already mentally overloaded with my son’s suicide attempts and mental health hospitalizations. But then I remembered all that he had done for me over the years, and especially in the past year and I decided that I would learn how to administer the shots and bring him home for as long as he seemed comfortable.
Carrot walks and belly rubs
Exercise and nutrition are an integral part of a diabetic regime. I started to make my own dogfood for Crosby and to get him to exercise we would do “carrot walks” around the house. After every few feet of walking, a piece of a carrot stick would be given to him. The goal was to get him to do as many laps around the house as possible. After the walks he’d roll over on his back to enjoy a nice belly rub. That’s how I knew that he was doing well. We kept up this routine for several months, until one day he couldn’t walk again. His left paw was swollen again and his eyes were filled with a deep pain. It happened so fast, literally overnight. It was time to say goodbye to my sweet companion.
Goodnight, sweet baby James
A friend of mine would sing Sweet baby James to Crosby every time he’d see him. As I sat alone in my house with a candle burning and rubbing Crosby’s belly, I played Sweet Baby James for him one last time. And with the help of an angel, he drifted sweetly away from the pain in his body as I whispered “I’m going to be OK. I’ve got this now. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you”
It’s almost been a week since we’ve said goodbye to sweet Crosby Dog, Croz-dizzle, Wishbone, Cwobby boy, and I miss him everyday. Especially when I’m chopping veggies in the kitchen. I have a picture in my house that says “Beware of Pitbulls: they will steal your heart.” He stole my heart and the heart of everyone who knew and loved him. Despite all the heartache and tears, I wouldn’t trade my 9.5 years with Crosby for anything. I’m a better person for having loved him and for having been loved by him. Thank you, my sweet boy. May you have limitless carrots and belly rubs in heaven.
“Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog. It merely expands the heart.” – Author Unknown
Please share a story, a quote or a memory about a special pet in your life below. I’d love to hear it!