I’m 19 years old now. Since I was 7, Coty was my dog. Year after year, he sat there like a lump on a log. With more of a grumpy demeanor, it’s safe to say that anytime Coty was happy, we were happy. He liked a couple things in life: cheese, turkey, getting his ears scratched, and always making sure to create a ruckus anytime somebody left the house. He would do everything he could to keep you in his house: bite ankles, run circles around you, bark, bark some more, and then keep barking.You always knew when someone was leaving if you heard Coty in a panic – a way to show his protective love and gratitude to his masters. The noise never stopped. But as he got older, the noise softened, his bark echoed less, and his energy diminished. Still, though, the noise never stopped. As his arthritis got worse and the days wore on, barking turned into whimpering. I watched as the animal who tried to practically tackle you to stop you from leaving, remained seated and cried. The transition was slow, like waiting for the last leaf of a tree to fall off in autumn.
Coty has been in my life longer than he hasn’t, so memories of life without him aren’t too extensive. That must’ve been the reason why saying goodbye to him today was so difficult. Sure I’ve played through the scenario of our last encounter throughout my head a million times, but I always pictured myself being strong and composed, asserting my maturity and being a shoulder for the rest of my family to cry on. I didn’t imagine how difficult it would actually be. When I got the phone call that it was time to say goodbye, I left work and broke just about every traffic law to get home. Running through the front door, I ran to his spot – the edge of the carpet in a room where he was able to watch the door to see anyone entering or leaving. I pet him while he was fed, you guessed it, cheese and turkey. I felt his hip bones, his shoulder blades, his spine…all the parts of his body that let him chase us down for so many years; a body that has lived a life full of protecting, loving, and supporting.
Our moments together dwindled, as myself and my family cried while petting him. But as he left, we gave him what he had always been trying to maintain, everyone he cared about the most, surrounding him. But he gave it right back to us, as we all remained together with the animal we cared about more than anything in the world.
I learned from Coty that when the people you care about the most leave you, remember to remind them how much they mean to you – and that’s what I’m trying to do here. Instead of barking and running around as Coty knew best, I express my love and gratitude for the animal that I have known for a majority of my life through writing, the way I know best. And I hope and pray that when Coty left me, some how… some way, he was able to feel what I felt every time I left him.