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I Loved The World's Naughtiest Dog...And This Is What I've Learned

For three weeks I've been processing a loss and sitting in real grief and mourning.

Exactly twenty days ago our big dog Pepai looked in to my eyes and I felt an unspoken "Thank you. I love you. Goodbye."

Then with her head on my lap, her physical form relaxed into a deep state of letting go and my body eventually reeled at the finality of it all.

It wasn't the first time I've been with a soul crossing over. And I can guarantee that it won't be the last.

And every time it changes me.

I vividly remember at our first puppy vet visit when I was told "With a big breed like this you should expect a good eight years with her."

At that point in my life eight years seemed like an eternity. Too far into the future to imagine an expiration date.

She was twelve years old when her body quit. She spent 4 extra years on borrowed time and was as rambunctious and deviant as ever, right up to her passing.

It was sudden.

It was at home.

She did it her way, without asking me to help choose the time. I'm so grateful for that.

I'm grateful that her passing was in a familiar place, with her head on her Mama and her favorite furry friends nearby.

It felt dignified.

And I'm at peace with that.

She was, perhaps, the world's naughtiest dog and her passing doesn't change that.

I have a million stories I can tell you about her. Most of them involve destruction, stealing, devouring, and chaos.

And as many curse words that I uttered, and prayers before I opened the door not knowing what disaster awaited me on the other side, she was so much more than just that.

She was more than her regularly scheduled 7:30am, 10:15pm, and 2:30am barking frenzies (every day, no matter what, for no reason other than I think she could tell time-and adjusted twice a year for daylight savings).

She was a big huge goofball full of unconditional love.

Even if I scolded her for stealing fresh baked muffins off the counter.

For a second she'd lower her ears and her tail like she knew, but by the time she'd take a second breath her tail would be back to wagging and her eyes would be full of love and joy again.

And that tail. Oh my God, that tail...

I used to believe that dogs with docked tails was cruel.

Until I lived with Pepai.

That tail came at you like a crowbar. We suffered many a bruise from it. Ty, as a toddler, had to wear a helmet watching cartoons so he didn't get knocked out when she came wiggling by.

She'd wag it so hard that she'd split the end open. The vet called it Happy Tail. It never seemed to bother her, it just sprayed blood over every inch of our house 2 feet high and below. We'd clean it up. Glue it, tape it, whatever it took. Eventually it grew bumps of extra scar tissue that looked like a medieval weapon, but it did stop splitting open.

Twelve years of stories and memories of this great big awkward noisy dog.

And just like that, the house is quiet.

Too quiet.

Our old dog Bandit mourned deeply. He stopped eating. He cried, sobbed like a human, and layed inconsolable on the spot on the floor where she passed.

I wondered if dogs can actually die from a broken heart. He just slept. We had to constantly step over him wherever he landed because it was like all of his strength was gone.