My heart is broken — broken right in two. I knew this day was coming. I’ve known it since we heard the bad news two years ago. Honestly, I’ve known it since the beginning. Even so, it doesn’t make the sting easier.
This is the blog post I never wanted to write.
To Get A Puppy Or Not
My daughter lobbied for a puppy for years. She begged, bargained with and cajoled her dad.
She (We) finally wore him down. In 2005, for her 15th Christmas, he gave in. We were going to get a puppy — a Pembroke Welsh Corgi to be specific.
My husband had good reasons for not wanting a dog. Part of his childhood was spent on a small farm, so he experienced owning many dogs. He loved the dogs but said it was so sad when they died, which, unfortunately, they all do.
I never had a dog growing up. I had a kitten, a couple of birds, a turtle and a pig named Amelia, but, no dog. Let me just say that none of these other animals worked their way into my heart like a little corgi named Higgins.
Higgins Joins The Family
Higgins belonged to my daughter from the beginning. She had a youth function at church the day we could pick Higgins up from the breeder. She asked me to take one of her shirts to hold him in so he would be used to her scent, not mine. Higgins was her puppy and she was his girl.
It was an adjustment getting used to a dog in the house. There were a few accidents, a few late nights and early mornings, a few things chewed on — but, it didn’t take long for him to capture our hearts.
Our son went off to college the next year. When he would come home, Higgins would hang out with him and his friends while they played video games or watched a movie. He would look at me then turn and walk into the family room as if to say “I’m going to hang out with the guys now, Mahm.”
A couple of years later, our daughter left for college in Alabama. This is when my bond with the pup really strengthened. I had a really hard time the first few years my children left home. But, Higgins was always there for me with his goofy grin. It was hard to be sad for too long with a corgi sitting on the back of “our chair” or licking my feet (I know, it’s kind of gross).
Higgins became quite the traveler. With an empty nest, my husband and I traveled more — usually to visit our kids. Higgins visited Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Nashville, Brunswick and Savannah. His favorite places were the mountains (Banner Elk, North Carolina) and the beach (Anna Maria Island). He was a great little traveler.
The News We Didn’t Want To Hear
In May of 2017, while we were in Banner Elk, North Carolina, we found out that Higgins had melanoma. At his annual dental cleaning, the vet discovered a tumor in his mouth. She said she would be surprised if he made it to the end of the year. We were devastated at the news.
Each time we went to North Carolina after his diagnosis, we wondered if it would be his last trip to the mountains. October of 2017 was especially difficult. The day before we left, I took him outside to take pictures. He stuck his nose up in the air and stood there taking it all in. I imagined him studying the scenery because he somehow sensed he wouldn’t be back. I ugly cried that day.
Funny thing is, he went back to the mountains in May, July and October of 2018.
Another difficult day was August 17, 2017. That was the day our daughter and son-in-law left the U.S. to live in Scotland for a little over a year. We didn’t expect him to live through that so the good-byes were heart-wrenching. They returned home last December and Higgins greeted them with much tail(nub) wagging.
It became kind of a family joke. We have so many “last pictures” with Higgins. I even had a friend who is a professional photographer come and take pictures the summer of 2017. I’m glad that I did because he captured Higgins’ personality before the tumor in his mouth got too bothersome. We are so thankful that we were blessed with more time with our Higgins.
Broken Hearts/Blessed Hearts
So yeah, my heart is broken, all of our hearts are broken, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I learned so much about life and about myself from this little dog. He was my constant companion and he helped me through a difficult time of adjustment to the empty nest. I talked to him all the time and he answered with his eyes and his smile. It was kind of like having a toddler again — especially when he had to follow us into the bathroom. Every. Single. Time. He was a silly little guy but he was the best.
My husband was hesitant to get a puppy because of this day, but, it made me think . . .
- Do you never get a pet because it may die one day?
- Do you never reach out in friendship because you have grieved when other friends moved away?
- Do you never enter into a relationship because you have been hurt by loss or rejection?
- Do you not reveal your true self to others because you may be ridiculed or embarrassed?
- Do you never worship God again because some of his people have hurt you?
Life is full of risks. Love is full of risks. But, in the end, the risk is worth it.