I cried myself out today.
Sherman, our 9-year-old lab beagle chow mix, succumbed to the diabetes that had wracked his world and ours for the past three months or so. We knew this was coming. Didn't make it one bit easier.
Heidi and I were up and down with Sherman throughout last night as he drank and panted and asked to go outside and ate grass and threw up and all that. A late-morning seizure sent me to call our Waynesboro vet and ask if they could put him down.
I thought I was all cried out as I loaded him in the truck one final time for the 15-minute drive, but you know how tears are. We've been pretty tight since I dragged him out from under that makeshift Stokesville cabin where he was born. I was his primary trainer during Head Start for Puppies. We slept a lot of nights on the floor together, me in a sleeping bag and him snuggled against my back, when H was pregnant with Benjamin.
Puppa, one of his many nicknames, always had a special yip sound for me when I came home. We always joked about him being my running coach, and how I would totally suck as an ultrarunner if it weren't for his sage advice. We concocted Rock Status, officially bestowed on me when I finished a 100-miler and yakked away when I didn't.
He's always been a scared boy hiding in a mean-sounding dog suit. And he's been one of the main loves of my life for almost a decade now.
As we headed down the road to Waynesboro, me with one hand on my buddy and the other on the steering wheel, I told him that I'd given this past three months my best and apologized for not always hitting the right spot on the twice-daily insulin injections. I told him I was sorry if he hurt much, and that I loved him more than even I imagined possible. I thanked him for being there for me through thick and thin, for always forgiving me, for always accepting my love, for always being willing to hear my dumb stories and come out in the yard and watch me do my pull-ups at the various places we have lived.
Just before noon, just outside the Waynesboro city limits, my Puppa said good-bye to this life. He had his head resting partially on his favorite pillow and partially on my lap. I wouldn't have wished it to be any other way.
When we get his ashes from the vet, I know the perfect spot. There's a doggie cemetery on one of my favorites running roads. Turns out that is at Stokesville, where our handsome boy was born.
Save me a spot, Puppa. When I hear your special Dad yips, I know I'll be home at last.
Love you, my old sweetheart boy.