I will always love and miss you.

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My baby. RIP Dexter

TRIGGER WARNING: This is a very sad and true story about the death of an animal taken too soon from this world. If you aren’t in the mood for a good cry, you may want to skip this one for another day.

We had just returned from apple-picking on one of the first days in October. The air was predictably crisp, and I was wearing a red coat with a scarf. The whole scene was exactly how you might expect — two young lovers taking a Sunday to spend at the orchard.

Once we returned home and the romance of the scene began to dissolve, we quickly realized we had brought home far too many apples. What might we do with all these apples? I don’t love to bake, and my boyfriend at the time, now husband, surely wouldn’t take the time to turn the apples into any bakery or pastery item.

Since I am not one to let food go to waste, we quickly went into problem-solving mode. Who would enjoy these freshly-picked apples? Who might make them into a pie for us to eat?

Though we live close to both my parents and his, his parents were the only ones interested in having some of these apples. Because the weather was beautiful and we didn’t have much else to do, we decided to head over to their home to drop the apples off.

Soon the question of whether to bring our basset hound Dexter needed to be addressed. Dexter was young — only about 2 years old at the time. He was great in the car, and loved to run around with us. He was friendly and mild-mannered, but he would often howl loudly, disturbing our neighbors in the small apartment complex where we lived together.

I had wanted a basset hound for years, and when we found a local breeder with puppies, I was ecstatic. We got him at 14 weeks old, but had visited him many times earlier on — I believe the below picture is at about 8 weeks.

Me and Dexter at about 8 weeks old

Dexter and I would sit snuggled together watching TV with his paw in my hand for hours. He was my buddy. He was my baby.

After some time, we decided to bring Dexter on our short trip to my husband’s parent’s house to allow Dexter to run around freely. My now in-laws live on an expansive piece of property in one of the best areas to live in in our state. Throughout their time living there, they always had dogs who learned the ways of roaming freely outside — to come when called, and to not run too far away from the house, etc. That’s the way that my husband grew up. That’s how they had always treated and trained dogs.

Basset hounds are not known for being responsive. In fact, they are known for running away — Dexter had run away many times at this particular location. Once, he had even gotten himself lost at twilight, unable to see well as it neared dark. We found him crying in the middle of a field, safe but scared. I didn’t love bringing him to this property, for fear that we might loose him for good.

When we arrived at the home, we soon realized that no one was home yet. We allowed Dexter to roam freely, and I kept a close eye on his whereabouts. My husband and I were not dressed to go chasing after our dog today, and we wanted this to be a quick visit.

After waiting almost twenty minutes for one of his parents or siblings to return to the house, we nearly made the decision to simply put the apples in the house, and return back to our apartment. We had wanted to at least say hi to his mom or dad while we were there, but wouldn’t spend all day waiting on them.

Right around this time, we saw my now-mother-in-law’s car coming over the horizon down the long, winding driveway. It is truly the longest driveway I have ever seen. I remember the first time driving down the driveway, wondering if I would ever come upon the house the was promised to be there.

When the car was in full view, I noticed that Dexter was standing in the middle of the road. He had been standing there for a while, and I didn’t think much of it. He was a big guy, though short, he weighed over 60 pounds. Not a small dog.

This is when time starts to move more in slow motion slides in my mind now. Things are no longer fluid in my memory.

I remember at some point noticing that My husband’s mother seemed a bit distracted. I was also certain she had slowed down because she had seen Dexter on the road. My husband and I both started approaching the car and Dexter, but we moved too slowly. We didn’t understand the urgency.

I saw everything. I saw her drive over my dog with her SUV. I saw him tumble in the road. I saw her kill him by accident.

I couldn’t breath.

It’s hard for me to breath right now just thinking about it. It has been almost five years, but I still sometimes plead for him to return. I miss him so much.

He didn’t die instantly, so we began trying to save him. Where can we go? What emergency vet is open? Who can save him quickly? Please don’t take him from me, I begged.

We arrived at an emergency vet and he was still alive. But not for long. He was too far gone. I wailed. I was inconsolable. I called for my parents and they came. The whole family came. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t believe it. I screamed and I cried. For days. My husband and I barely slept.

He was only two years old. He was such a good boy. How could this have happened?

The next week was terrible. I would often see flashbacks of what happened in my mind. I couldn’t be left alone, particularly in our apartment. I saw him everywhere. I felt his presence around us, and when I remembered he was gone, I couldn’t take it.

We couldn’t take it. Luckily, I wasn’t alone in dealing with this — my husband was just as distraught as I was. We were both barely functioning.

It’s safe to say that time heals all woulds, but the scars remain. This is a deep deep scar. And sometimes, it still aches.

A week went by. I couldn’t live without another dog in our apartment. I just couldn’t do it. I needed a baby to care for and to love on, and I wouldn’t make it another week in that apartment if it was just the two of us, alone.

So we called shelters and asked about puppies. I realize and realized that adopting a dog would have been the responsible thing to do. I even had well-intentioned friends reprimand me for trying to obtain another puppy from a breeder. Unfortunately, many of them didn’t know what I had just gone through, and the hell I was living in each day haunted by an untimely death. I couldn’t talk about it.

People criticized me for wanting to get a puppy so soon after Dexter died. Again, many of them didn’t know what I had just gone through. They didn’t know about this particular brand of hell. They weren’t being haunted. And I still couldn’t talk about it.

There were no puppies to adopt in our area. There were few puppies around, at all. I ended up finding a local pet store in our area that just sold puppies. It was terrible. The conditions were not great. I would NEVER recommend buying a puppy from one of these places. They should likely be shut down, but luckily for us, they were open on a Sunday. We got Frank.

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Frank as a puppy

Frank is a corgi. He is completely different from Dexter, but he was exactly what we needed. A little fur-ball of distraction.

Frank is a bit of a terror, and it’s likely because he doesn’t come from a strong pedigree. He’s probably inbred. He has health problems though he’s only 5 years old. He was also spoiled rotten from the time he entered our lives. He is certainly at the center of our universe, in spite of all of his complications.

No dog will ever replace another dog. No wound is ever completely healed. Everyone walks around with wounds that are in various stages of healing. Remember this, and try to be kind when you are able.

I will miss my Dexter forever. Rest in peace.

Written by

Perpetual student, searching for my ikigai. I am an Artist in artistic recovery care of Julia Cameron. Top writer in poetry. ❤️POM-Poet!❤️

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