Today we packed up your things - your toys and blankets and bed, and my heart broke all over again.
It's been only two days since you unexpectedly passed, and tomorrow will mark the first morning that I wake up and you won't be sleeping curled up against me. I think it might be the hardest day I will face since losing you.
For those reading this, my much loved dog, Holly suffered a sudden major seizure on Friday evening and never recovered. She passed away in our arms shortly after. She would have been 17 in December and while we knew she wouldn't be with us much longer, she had never seized before and was responding incredibly well the the medication we had her on for renal failure. All signs pointed to a few more months, not a sudden loss.
For a long time my sisters and I had been badgering our parents for a dog. We had already had a kitten that unfortunately we had to put up for adoption when it unexpectedly triggered my sister M's severe allergy (at the time, we thought we knew what caused it, it turned out that we were missing about 5 other things, too) and were desperate for another pet. Finally, our parents told us that when we moved house, we would be able to get a dog.
Thanks to M's allergies we had to have a specific breed (and it was for this reason we chose to purchase from a breeder) and it came down to one of three "hypoallergenic" options:
1. A Poodle. My mother wasn't sold on this as she didn't want a large poodle but had found throughout her own childhood that smaller poodles could be quite neurotic, especially around young children.
2. A Maltese Terrier. Again, my mother wasn't sold - Terriers tend to be yappy and not well suited to young, possibly clumsy children.
That left 3. The Bichon Frise. A puffball of a dog with a generally sweet and playful temperment, who was not likely to be squished by the children, but also calm enough to withstand loud playtime.
For months after we settled into our new house she contacted different people in order to choose a respected Bichon breeder, and eventually got in touch with a woman who was well-reputed and expecting a litter. It turned out to be a false pregnancy, but she put us in touch with another breeder she gave high praise to who's biggest fault was how far away she was from our location. She had just had a litter, and had one little girl and one little boy left. We were interested in the bitch, and I remember being so excited that despite learning the puppy had been named Holly, I compiled a short list of other cool names, just in case.
On a Saturday morning, we packed into the car and drove four hours to the breeder - my mother stating all the way that it was not guaranteed, that there were a number of reasons why we might not buy this particular puppy, and to not get our hopes up. Nevertheless we had a large, deep basket lined with soft blankets to be able to transport our new pup comfortably home (it would of course be another four hours back).
We needn't have worried. We arrived and were greeted by the cutest, sweetest, happiest little ball of fluff I have ever met in my life. Holly was excited to meet strangers, pleased to have some smaller humans to play with, and extremely affectionate from the get-go. It was love at first sight, both from her toward us, and from us toward her (my father's expression completely melted upon seeing her and at that point my mother knew we weren't leaving without this puppy).
I remember her little face peeking out of the basket on my lap, and how despite my sister, T's excitement she was still scared to touch the puppy that could fit in the cup of our hands. I remember only weeks later T bounding around the house with the puppy slung over one shoulder, calm as you please with her ears flopping about. I remember the first time mum gave her a bath and the experience was apparently so traumatic that she hated and avoided baths, pools, rain, beaches, and so on. I remember that for all she hated rain, she loved mud puddles.
I remember the first time she jumped on my bed without assistance, and how that set a precendence for almost every morning after (to either wake me up, or nap with me). I remember her teaching herself to roll a tennis ball with her nose, because she didn't want to take the extra steps to bring it to us (and because we had visited family who didn't permit us to throw the tennis ball inside the house, so we rolled it to her and she started rolling it back). I remember coming home one day to find the plastic bag filled with chocolate biscuits that had been carefully tied up and put out of the way on the diing room table had a small hole bitten into it, exactly the size of the biscuit packet, and 4 biscuits missing (the packet had not even been shredded). I remember finding new toilet rolls perfectly intact but with the cardboard middle carefully extracted and lying a few feet away. I remember going to put away newly washed clothes, only to find a bone hidden amongst the items - and once, memorably, a bone hidden in my handbag after I got to work.
I remember one year, when some chocolate Easter Eggs went missing and everyone denied being the thief, we didn't know what happened until several weeks later when we found chocolate eggs buried under Holly's blankets. I remember her being considerate enough to not wake the parents (she slept in my parent's room) when she needed to pee in the middle of the night, instead she would come and wake me to let her out.
I remember how she would reach up and bat at your face if you stopped cuddling her before she was ready, and the first time I sent her to sleep by rubbing her tummy. I remember how she loved to sleep with her head buried under pillows or blankets, and if she wasn't feeling well, would sleep on any clothes we left on the floor.
She was a fiercely intelligent dog, who was loving and loyal and never snapped at us, not even when we nearly stepped on her tail (by accident, of course).
She was my heart, ever since I was 10 years old and I am going to miss her so damn much.