Remembering Bow

Dear Bow,

I began this letter when I knew we were in the final ten days of your life. Now, as I work to complete it, we have mere hours left, and as I read it aloud – minutes.

Your entry into this world should have cued us to the journey you would take us on. You were born January 1, 2020, ushering in a transformative year that has drastically altered life as we know it. You came home March 2020. As we drove to pick you up less than 2 years ago, Maggie told me: “you have to love her even if she’s not cute,” and I promised that I would, although I did not yet know what it would entail. Luckily for me, you were beyond adorable, although I am not sure it would have mattered. Once you ran towards us (and then away from us and into the cow pasture), everything changed for me completely. You introduced me to a love I had never experienced and helped me unlock a gentle tenderness within myself that I did not know existed. You challenged my patience and tested my commitment and resolve for two years, but you rewarded me with incredible love and an unbreakable bond. I have scarcely ever felt more connected to another being, identifying your needs and desires without words, and understanding and anticipating your reactions to the world. I have always felt like our souls are inextricably connected. You have kept me laughing, kept me guessing, and even on my worst days, you have kept me going.

You have not been an easy dog by any means. You passed unexpected milestones, learning tricks like waking up all your roommates by rattling the doorknob at 6 in the morning, honking the actual car horn because we left you in there (with the heat on and car running), performing a high lateral jump onto the kitchen counters (from the ground!) to get involved in the breakfast sandwich situation, chewing through an actual wire crate to make a hole in the drywall at your school (hello, you were ahead of your time on the expansion project!) and conning your moms into roasting you a whole ass chicken for broth because supply chain shortages left the shelves bare of the kinds without garlic and onion. But your persistent behavioral challenges introduced us to an amazing community of people who gave us the tools and support to communicate better with you and reminded us to loosen up and have fun with you too. Your attendance at school introduced us to a neighborhood that we loved and prompted us to buy our first home together in the same place.

Bow, you have been a catalyst for us. While Maggie and I have loved each other for years, you turned us into a family, two adults dedicated to the care of one (complicated) being – prompting the additions of a car, house, and sweet little Cubby. You helped our little family find a community. While some dogs give that love back in an obvious, tail wagging, licking your face manner, your reciprocation was more subtle (except any time when we came back from leaving you at home). Your gentle resting of your head on our legs while snuggled up on the couch, your bouncy steps on our walks and adventures, and your ability to just be still and completely relaxed with us at home when you struggled to exist in so many places out in the world were the bountiful rewards that accompanied loving you.

Bow, we have always said that you would leave people wanting more. This was part of your charm – you scarcely accepted pets from people outside of a small circle, and your signature greeting to houseguests was to jump up, tap them on the behind, and run away. You gave us snuggles and so much love, but always on your own terms. It took a long time for you to warm up to anyone. Somehow you still made *many* friends – or at least you helped us initiate most of the friendships we have cultivated in the past

two years. Your very colorful personality always kept people guessing. It fits in in some ways, that we are losing you after such a brief life – we always imagined that you would stay with us for the next decade, and yet here we are, mourning the time we wanted and did not have with you. But maybe you lived so much, you loved so hard, your flair for the dramatic burned so bright, and you transformed our lives so dramatically in your two short years that your work here in the earthly realm was done – and you had to choose a tragic, novel way to go, befitting of the life you led. Or maybe life is just cruel and unfair, and this is a bout of terrible luck. Either way, although your time in your body is ending, we will love you tremendously for rest of our lives. We will be forever grateful to you for upending our lives and teaching us how to love when love is difficult, painful, and challenging. Love grows where our Bowbina goes, and thank you for changing everything, sweet girl.

I love you forever, Bow-Bow