This morning I said goodbye to a friend.
Looking back, ours started off as a rocky friendship. I was unsure and untrusting around her at first. My heart had recently been broken by the passing of another friend, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to invite someone else back in.
But she eventually worked her way into my heart.
She came into my life about 6 months before my ex- left, in October 2008. She was there for the worst of our marriage.
She nervous-ate when he and I would fight.
When Scott left, I took her and the cats with me to that first apartment in Jacksonville in 2009. She was with me in those hard, raw days after the separation. She was with me when Dad was diagnosed with cancer.
Dog hugs may not seem like much, but when they are all that you have they work wonders. And having a warm body in your bed can be a healing thing indeed…
That first apartment complex was a good one for a dog. Plenty of room to walk. Willow was only 5 then, so she still liked to walk a decent distance.
She’s always liked puttering and looking for plants to eat.
She and the cats came with me to Tampa in 2010. Then Willow still slept in the bed with me. (Eventually I had to stop that so that we could both sleep.) Willow liked to walk all through the goodly-sized apartment complex. A stray cat adopted Willow and me when we went on walks through the apartment complex: Black Kitty. After awhile Black Kitty would rub on Willow’s face, and Willow would let her. Best buddies.
In this apartment, Willow was with me when I started my Ph.D. program. When my great-grandma died. When Kitty Kat died. When Grandpa Tom died. When Pete died. When Dad died. Through the hardest part of my Ph.D…
Willow and Rusty moved with me to Seminole Heights, as did Black Kitty.
That house had a nice yard. It was nice to let Willow wander without a leash. She’d munch contentedly on the plants that grew along the fence line. Sometimes she and Black Kitty would lay in the sun together. The hardwood floors were hard on Willow’s joints. I bought her boots while we lived there to help with traction. She didn’t seem to mind how ridiculous she looked.
She got a step-brother and sister while I lived in the Branch Road house: Bruin and Brailyn. Brailyn didn’t want much to do with Willow, but Bruin loved her. Willow liked Bruin sometimes. Other times not so much. But when they did get along, it was super cute.
Rusty, Willow, and I moved to our current location at the end of 2013, weeks after Willow turned 10-years-old. Ten years is the average life span for an English bulldog. Actually, one website says that: “Those that died of old age had an average lifespan of 10 to 11 years.”
I was lucky that she was as healthy as she was for so long.
Her face got more grey over the years. Her gait got slower and more lopsided as she compensated for the arthritis in her joints. She was occasionally temperamental. Sometimes she would attack Rusty, and she’d occasionally lunge at people when I walked her. If there was something particularly stinky and messy in the trash, you can be sure she’d get into it if I didn’t have the trash can locked.
She loved treats of almost every variety. She very often greeted me with a wiggle butt and a happy face, even to the end. Gods, she made me laugh. There are times she may have helped me stay sane.
With all of her quirks, she was a damn fine dog and a wonderful companion. She and I had been through a lot together. She was born on December 5, 2003, 12+ years ago. She was nearly a Methuselah in terms of bulldog years.
She was with me nearly as long as I was with my ex-husband.
She lived a long life. She lived a good life.
I miss her already.
Deeply and dearly.
Once there were four: Kitty Kat, Pete, Willow, and Rusty.
Now it’s just me and Rusty. The house will certainly be more quiet with just us two.