I did not grow up with dogs; I had no desire to have one as an adult. When my husband and I got engaged, he made it clear before our wedding that a dog would be in our future and that was non-negotiable, he could not picture life without a dog. At the time, I did not understand, but I knew it was important for him, so I agreed, yes, when we have a family someday, we will get a dog (buying myself some time).
Life was fast & furious from the moment we said: “I do.” We built a brand new house, had a baby on our wedding anniversary and had three kids in 3 years. Sold house, moved, job changes for Charlie and I started a business—there was barely time to take care of our home & family, never mind a dog. We moved again to a home with a big yard, and we were excited about this next chapter. My business was booming, the kids were now toddlers and preschoolers, we had an au pair who loved dogs, and the two of them worked on me to get one. They argued that Adelle (our au pair) was there to help, and it was good timing. Charlie convinced me to look, so we drove 1 1/2 hours to “just look.” An hour later, we left the breeder, with a puppy in my lap, who cried the whole way home because she missed her mom, my heart was breaking for her. Adelle kept the kids up and knew we were on our way home to surprise the kids with a “Christmas Puppy” a few weeks before Christmas. We came in the door, put her down, she walked, and they all said “what is it,” they were so confused, and within a minute they were beyond excited, the Guyers got a puppy! We named her Brady (after our beloved Tom Brady), her full name is “Brady Christmas Guyer,” a sweet yellow lab to add to the excitement & joy that already stirred in our family home.
It was not all joy thou, Brady was my “Marley & Me.” She would jump on people when they came to visit; she would eat food off of the counter and out of the kids' hands. She was known to get full sandwiches from the kids' hands. She was constantly getting into things whether that was chewing on shoes or furniture, eating the food off of the counter, or getting into the trash. “You Stupid Dog,” Would be a line that could be heard so often in my kitchen, the kids would laugh, and I would get frustrated, but also would be equally happy to see the kids with her. There was so much love right from day one until the day she left us. Brady loved being outside, she loved her little sister Poochie (who adored Brady) and tolerated the new puppy Lulu (what happened to this Mom that did not want dogs)! She loved to go to Bumpa’s beach, and at the old house, to sit out on the front porch. More than anything, Brady loved her family. She was the epitome of a family dog.
Her aging was symbolic of life-changing for us, we both lost our Moms these past two years, and watching Brady get old, and the decline was another sign she was aging and changing. Gradually Brady began slowing down, she could not go on long walks anymore, she could no longer jump on my sons bed to sleep at night, she stopped climbing the stairs, she no longer jumped up to the counters to get food. She limped along, until she could no longer stand at times. We tried to treat her and make her comfortable, but we all knew. Brady was beginning to lose her quality of life. After a recent episode, we also learned she had Vertigo, and the Vet said it could also have been a brain tumor. Brady could barely walk, could not stand for long, her legs would give out, and cause her to fall. It was the hardest thing to see. We knew it was time, we prayed about it, we hoped she would improve and we realized, it was time, it was her time to move on. I remained strong in the days leading up, through the tears from everyone, and I insisted we were doing the right thing. I stayed focused on the responsible decision, the one which was best for Brady at this point in her long life. This all changed the afternoon we said goodbye.
The boys missed lacrosse practice so they could say goodbye to Brady, it was heart wrenching to see my babies cry, as they had to let go of their friend, the person that held all their secrets, their hopes, their dreams, their fears and their challenges. No matter what kind of day they had or what was going on in their lives, Brady was always there and always full of love and comfort. She was a fixture in our home and a large part of our family. I cried. I cried for them, and I cried for my husband (who had to take her in), and the loss we were all feeling and I cried for Brady. My last words to Brady that day were “I am so sorry, I am so sorry Brady” before I told her I loved her.
Even though we have two other dogs, the house feels empty without her. Her dog bed and water bowl are there. Her treats and her hair are everywhere. She was with us one minute, and gone the next. She went peacefully and fast, yet the loss of her for us is painful, and will leave a hole in our hearts forever. We said goodbye to Brady, and we said goodbye to our childhood years, the time from tots to teens. We know the next phase will be college for each of them and that time of our life is behind us. However, it will always be a part of us and the cherished memories that we will revisit over and over.
I never understood the pain of losing a dog as I do now. They really are members of your family. They represent family life and create such a beautiful and full presence in an ordinary day (which I appreciate more than anything these days). We took this picture of Brady the day we said goodbye. It makes me happy and sad at the same time. We miss our girl, and we will always remember you, Brady, you will remain a big part of our story, and growing up Guyer. You cried the day you came home, and we all cried the day you left our home forever — you will remain in our hearts forever, your paws have made a permanent mark in our lives.