I think that sometimes an animal will find the hole in your heart that is shaped like the animal you lost, and find ways to mold themselves to better fill the hole. It's never quite the same, but it can be close. I'm glad Mr. Wilson is around to soak up some of your excess dog love that would otherwise transmute to sorrow <3
Dabbing at my eyes at work now. It has been 16 years since my first dog passed. Sasha was a golden retriever with all of their generalities and many of her own specifics (preferred squeaky alligators to other toy shapes, sang delightfully for pancakes, learned to tuck her tags into her mouth if she wanted to stalk ducks silently). 16 years and I STILL dream that she is somehow, miraculously discovered alive. This piece really hit home for me. As much as I would love another golden, I don't think it would work. I adopted a very differently tempered shelter mutt 5 years ago, and while it didn't diminish the missing of Sasha that will always be there, in some way, he adds a different kind of dog love and presence to my life.
This is one of the most beautiful and human things I’ve ever read, and I’m suddenly and conspicuously crying on the train, and I’ve never owned a dog and am largely indifferent to them, and I don’t know you at all but I love you, thank you so much.
My mother had a habit of giving away our pets after a few years when I was a kid. She always had a cheerful, nonsensical reason. ("We want a girl cat, not a boy cat, so I gave Elmo to your cousins!" As you might expect, no one had previously expressed a desire for any particular sex of cat, and all this did was leave me with a strong desire for my particular Elmo). We only had one dog that was allowed to stay with us until the end of her lovely long life. I never understood how she could so casually replace one pet with the next, and every one of those animals has a them-shaped spot in my heart. Recently, she gave away her own dog to me. Riley lives with my husband and I now, and she is very happy, and she also loves my mother so much still, because she is capable of such complete forgiving compassionate love that it makes me cry sometimes.
I’ve come back to this piece several times over the last month, partly to re-feel the exquisite pain of “he is not my dog, who died even though I love him.” The first time I got to that part and started ugly-crying over my morning coffee so hard I couldn’t finish the last paragraph. It is so validating and tender a way to recognize the uniqueness of each trusting creature’s little life.
"Mr. Jollyeffort" put me in paroxysms.