A Love Letter To My Best Friend

Posted by Gabrielle Fuqua on Monday, January 12th, 2015 at 1:42pm.

Dear Outlaw,

What a peculiar name your original owners gave you. You have all the majesty your 100-pound Siberian Husky self commands, yet you are a love sponge whose bucket is never full, a living stuffed animal.

On the day we met, a dusty sky hung over the Rocky Mountains reminding my husband and I of the overwhelming grief we felt for our first Siberian who’d passed only a week earlier. As we entered the rescue yard, 20 Huskies bounded toward us while you quietly sidled up, sat down next to my feet and leaned into my legs as if to say,“I pick you.” 

rescue Siberian HuskyWe put you and your equally sized sister, who you would not leave without, into the back of our little Subaru and made the drive back to our condo in Boulder. (YES, condo!) You looked like a newlywed couple, you in your black saddle tux and her in a white silky gown of fur. The thought of bringing two Huskies home was just crazy enough to distract us from our pain.

You were the perfect pet from the moment we met you. You didn’t bark -- only sang with coyotes and fire sirens, a rich guttural tone that called to the neighborhood, creating a chorus a howls for miles around.

We knew Huskies. We’d just buried one. They are beautiful, ornery, Houdini-esque work dogs bred to pull. At three, you were still a puppy in your need for affection, but a real sled dog when it came time to work. At first, you’d pull me happily along in tandem with your sister while I held on for dear life. We rode miles and miles of Boulder's bike paths wearing my rollerblade wheels to nubs as we passed pelotons of bikers with Iditarod zeal. When winter came you played in the snow with a smile in your bright blue eyes, your pink tongue hanging out like a child trying to catch their first snowflake.

Siberian Husky

Later, we found out we were having twins. I felt so bad for you. Your days of pulling me on cross-country skis and roller blades were over, but you didn’t mind. You spent the days with me in bed waiting for the twins’ grand debut. When they came, there was nothing more precious to you in the world. You’d stack your toys in front on their swing asking them to play. And when they cried you didn’t shy away from their shrieks. You planted yourself at their feet, letting little toes dig into your soft downy coat.

I trusted you enough to rig a double jogging stroller to your sled gear and you pulled us miles and miles as the babies slept, lulled by your familiar pants and the comforting rhythm of constant motion. As we grew as a family and the children aged, you never bared a tooth, not even when they pulled food from your mouth or tugged at your fur, playing on top you like bean bag. You just nuzzled their pink cheeks and licked their sticky hands.

When we lost your sister to cancer you mourned like a husband of 50 years. Everyone said you’d adapt and I guess you did, but your ears still perk up and sadness returns to your sky-blue eyes at the mention of her name.

11 years later, here we are. Your hips are riddled with arthritis, yet you never miss a chance to walk to the bus stop to soak up some love from the neighborhood kids you shepherded around as toddlers. You remind us everyday of the joy of living. You taught us that snow means play, that food on the floor isn’t a waste, but a treat, that bedtime isn’t the end of the day, but the beginning of cuddles. 

adopt dog Boulder

Now you lay next to me as I type this, your breathing labored, your hips stiff, your whines growing ever more frequent reminding me our time is coming to an end. With tears in my eyes I just want to say thank you for being our pillow of comfort, our sweet boy with kind eyes and velvet ears. My only solace is knowing that you’ll be reunited with the love of your life sooner than I’d hoped. 

We didn’t rescue you. You rescued us.

If you are looking into getting a pet, please, please consider rescuing an animal that needs a family. It doesn’t make you love them any differently than if you’d had them as a puppy. In fact, the appreciation in their eyes makes it that much sweeter.

5 Responses to "A Love Letter To My Best Friend"

Nate Burger wrote: What a breathtaking love letter. It is true that dogs are meant to be our true companions, and your story is beautiful and heartbreaking. I wish you all the best!

Posted on Monday, January 12th, 2015 at 6:19pm.

Jill Douglas wrote: So beautiful. A great tribute to a great dog. Enjoy every moment....

Posted on Monday, January 12th, 2015 at 9:05pm.

Jenna wrote: What a beautiful tribute to the sweetest guy ever!

Posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 at 10:45am.

ruth wrote: I cannot imagine anyone reading this and not crying their eyes out! I can relate to everything you have described. I lost my beautiful boy, about 2 years ago, an extra-ordinarily beautiful Doberman who rescued me. Atticus was bred for show and not wanting to take any chances since this breed has been so overbred and badly bred for years, I found his breeder by looking up the winners on the Westminster Show website. It turned out she was a very famous lady, world renowned for her winning Dobermans.

After years of rescuing dogs, several of them Dobies, I justified buying from a good breeder because I needed rescuing at that time in my life. I only agreed to show, but truthfully I dreaded it. However when the breeder sold me Atticus, she didn't notice that only one testicle had descended. It had to be removed in an exploratory surgery, thus ending my obligation to show. I shutter to think what my sweet boy's life would have been like had anyone else purchased him expecting to show, faced with the disappointment. So maybe it's a stretch, but I like to think we rescued each other. Atticus seemed to never want anything as much as he wanted to be by my side. And sometimes a girl just needs a brilliant Doberman in her life. I don't know if I can explain it any better than that.

By the time he was 6-1/2 years old, Atticus has torn all the cruciate ligaments in both his back legs. (This, I have come to believe isn't nature but rather the result of people trying to improve on nature and construct a breed.) And Atticus never let on for two years that anything was wrong. One day he stopped wanting to touch a back foot to the ground. When I took him to the vet she said he had a build up of scar tissue in both legs that must have started from injuries a couple of years before! He never lost his appetite, he never cried, he never stopped hopping up on the bed first thing every morning to give me one little, gentle kiss me on the check to start the day.

The surgeries were about $5000 per leg and total time from surgery to complete recovery was an estimated 6 months, with at least a year in between the two surgeries. So we began. The first leg of the "TPLO" surgery looked like a complete success, but it was difficult. By the 8th month, his whole personality had changed. He became aggressive toward our other dogs. We tried everything-- physical therapy, Prozac, pain killers, behavioral therapy, even tried contacting Cesar Milan, with no luck of course. I could only conclude that he was in some serious pain. I've never wished so much that my dog could talk. I just couldn't put him through another surgery. During the last few weeks he became distant, more each day until I knew one day I'd lost him, and he wasn't coming back. And I didn't get to say good bye. Thus his life ended in a brief 7 years.

As I read your story I tried to imagine writing such a tribute to my boy. And maybe someday I'll be able to do so. But I spent a year doubled over in the worst emotional pain I could ever imagine. I still go to bed each night aching for his warmth at the foot of the bed, the touch of a velvety ear, a soft kiss to look forward to as I wake. I know if I tried to write my tribute, any progress I made since his passing would be undone.

I currently have a little Yorkie, rescued from a puppy mill who is about the size of Atticus' heart. She too won't willingly leave my side, nor will she allow my husband's dogs to even approach my other side! I've found we have had a great healing effect on one another.

As soon as it's possible, I know I have another Doberman coming for me. A rescue. Since about a year before I lost Atticus, I became aware of how serious the "animal holocaust" is on this planet, and have devoted most of my energy to trying to make a difference. So buying from another breeder is probably never going to happen for me again. I just have too many issues with breeding in general.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful and brilliantly written tribute to your best friend. It gives me hope that someday that pain will lift and only the love will remain.

Posted on Saturday, March 14th, 2015 at 6:03pm.

Patricia Paige wrote: Bless you, Gabi, that is beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss.

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 at 12:29pm.

Leave a Comment