As some of you already know, we said a sudden and heartbreaking good-bye to my best little buddy and writing partner Winston on January 20.

He became very ill very quickly and was sedated overnight. Then he just couldn’t pull through it and wake up. I was right with him–literally sitting next to him on the ground–when he first fell ill. Then he was in my arms until we reached the vet. And then he was under the tender care of some of the kindest people I’ve met in a long time. He wasn’t scared or in pain. He was warm and comfy. I got to spend two hours with him the following day, rubbing his belly and ears and telling him what a good boy he was. Then, a couple of hours later, he slipped away.

I’m going to be honest and say it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. But in the days and weeks since, I’ve been able to find some peace.

Most of it comes from knowing that Winston had the happiest life imaginable (dog or human… probably a dozen people have told me over the years that they wanted to be reincarnated as Winston). He made so many people so happy. When we worked on the dog show, people who were having a rough day would come silently into my office and sit down on the floor with him, rubbing his belly (detect a theme?) and hugging him, receiving his sweet puppy kisses and unconditional love and friendship.

Last April, when the baby was born, his happiness was made complete. He had always loved babies, and now we brought him home a baby of “his” own. He adored her and followed her everywhere. He loved to nap in her room when she napped. He loved to circle beneath her high chair for the delicious morsels she would drop. Almost everything I know about being a mother, Winston taught me. He taught me to speak softly even when inside I wanted to yell. He taught me that sometimes a gentle touch is all that’s needed. He taught me what it means to love so purely and so constantly.

He could be naughty, often to the tune of hundreds of dollars in vet bills, but he gave much more than he took.

He made me laugh and he licked my tears when I was sad. Our house is missing something without him.

I miss him so much but the imprint he left on my heart and life is a gift that I won’t let be bogged down by misery. He was too sweet, too happy, too loving a dog for his legacy to be one of pain.

This is the final verse of a poem I wrote years ago.

Come sit with me, my dearest friend;
I’ll take your hand when you grow weak,
And stay with you, and soothe your cares
And face the spectre as he stares
And know your parting words though you don’t speak.

Winston Alender
April 29, 2005 – January 20, 2013
Loved so, so much.

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11 thoughts on “In loving memory

  • February 6, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I am so sorry about Winston, Katie. I am crying as I read your post for you and your family and Winston, but I am glad you have found peace. I’ve lost pets before and it never gets any easier but I have found peace with those times as well in unique ways. I have two dogs now but my Dobie is old and I worry, but I try not to. My Min Pin is young but I want her around forever. I really feel for you. I always enjoyed your Winston posts and tweets. Hugs, Amber

    • February 6, 2013 at 9:01 am

      Thank you so much, Amber. One thing this has taught me is that there’s a kinship between people who have loved and lost their pets. I’m sure you’re cherishing every day with your sweet dogs!

  • February 6, 2013 at 11:43 am

    I never met Winston, but I feel as though I did, through your writing. I just had a quiet bawl, reading this. What a beautiful tribute to him, Katie. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • February 6, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Maggie. I consider you part of my “blog family” and your support means a lot.

  • February 6, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    My anti-spam word is “prince”, which is exactly who Winston was – a prince among doggies. He will be missed, not only by you, but by every heart he touched.

    Our current little Frankie dog reminds me of Winston in looks and personality.

    • February 6, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      Adrienne, thank you. I will have to follow your example as a loving dogmom who keeps the love going by bringing new puppies into the family. Frankie is a dear!

  • February 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    awww! i’m in tears now!

    • February 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      BGDDlover, I’m sorry to make you sad! I didn’t want to bring anybody down. :(

  • February 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    I find it so strange that I found this post on the one year anniversary of my daughter’s death. She was my vet tech and if there truly is a heaven, then Winston is in good hands. My heart goes out to you though, I loved reading about Winston and I know how much he meant to you. Our pets aren’t just animals, they are family.
    And, I don’t know why I haven’t been able to follow your blog properly and I didn’t know you had a baby until you mentioned it in a comment on my blog awhile ago. But anyway, I would love it if you could send me an email sometime with a quick update (gee, you don’t have anything else to do,right?) and if you need some ribbing for baby bibs I can hook you up!!

  • February 11, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    So, so sorry for your loss, Katie. I only knew Winston through your photos, but he sure seemed like the epitome of “best friend.” :(

  • February 16, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    So sorry for your loss Katie! Dog’s become part of the family, and it is hard to have them gone.My dog means the world to me and is one of my best friends, I couldnt image not being able to see him..

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