I love my dogs. I mean, I realllllllllllllly love my dogs.
The year I turned 11, I opened one of my Hanukkah presents from my parents. It was a stuffed poodle. I looked at them with a confused expression – why would an 11 year old want a stuffed poodle? Then I read the card. It said something along the lines of “this was a substitute until we got a real one next summer.” I was ecstatic! We were getting a dog!!!
The following summer, my mom brought home a six month old cocker spaniel named Lady. The first day I met her I was terrified. I tried to hold her but she was squirming around in my arms so much that I ended up dropping her on her back. I was so upset that I ran into the house and wouldn’t come out.
Over the years though, Lady and I became best buds. My siblings and I would dressher up as an astronaut by putting tinfoil over her paws. We’d take her rollerblading (she ran while we held onto the leash and she pulled us) and, we’d sneak her animal crackers when my parents weren’t looking.
We lost Lady when she was just shy of 13 years. I had never felt a loss like this before.
It took five years before I was ready to get another dog. I was dating Ben, who would later become my husband. After a year of dating, he took a job opportunity in New Jersey with the plan that I’d move there six months later. Before he moved, we went looking for a dog, another cocker spaniel of course, and a few hours later I was on the phone with my mom shedding tears of joy and shouting “We got a puppy!!! We named him Jasper!!!”
I documented Jasper’s every move much like a new mom would her newborn. I took photos of his first bath, his first time walking up the stairs by himself, his first trip to the vet, the first time he lost one of his teeth, his first birthday, and the first time he
played with his ball. I was hopelessly in love. Jasper and I moved to New Jersey six months later where we were happily reunited with Ben.
Then came Frou (pronounced “Froo”), a companion for Jasper. I was taking Jasper over to our new pet sitter who, unbeknownst to me, was fostering a beautiful female cocker spaniel. I never thought about getting a second dog but when I saw how Jasper and Frou interacted together, it was like they were dog soulmates. I bounced back home and begged Ben to get a second dog. He was hesitant, saying it would be a lot of work and expense but in the end, he agreed to let Frou come over on a trial basis. Eight years later she’s still a part of our family and we now refer to our dogs simply as “Frousper”.
Jasper and Frou have helped make our home joyful. However, since our kids were born, Jasper and Frou’s outside playtime has been shorter and they often get shushed when they are barking while the baby is sleeping. There are moments though, in the middle of the night when I’ve just put Cameron back to sleep and I’m the only one awake, that I’ll sit on the couch and Jasper will jump up, curl on my lap, and we snuggle, taking me back to the days when it was just the two of us.
If we are fortunate enough, Frousper will be with us for many years. I often think about how we will all cope the day we lose them. I know I will be heartbroken, but I also know there will be so many happy memories to reflect upon. Hopefully, my children will have wonderful memories of them too, regardless of how old they are.
To preserve my memories of them, I created a dedicated photo journal of our moments together. I also took one of my favorite photos of each of them and after two months, and 10,000 stitches per photo, turned them into decorative pillows that grace our couch today.
If you have pets, how do your preserve your moments and memories of them?