Rock was my perpetual fourth grader.

My admirer, my confidant, my grounder, and my reminder that all things need not be so serious. 

He was a big meaty beast with a heart of gold, had a mysteriously absent backstory, and a propensity to win over even the most adamant

dog deniers. His breath was atrocious, his nails too long, and he was a connoisseur of very very stinky things. 

My husband and I did not plan to keep him- he was meant to stay with us for a few months to learn how to be an upstanding canine citizen.

But it was quickly apparent that he would not be going anywhere, as we became a symbiotic pair in the blink of an eye.

Rock was true to his namesake- a solid force, strong and silent, reliable and resilient. He was always by my side, helping me breathe through the hard times and laugh through the silly times, making my home feel full of warmth and joy.

As our animals age, we do what needs to be done, right? We administer the pills, we carry the hind quarters, we clean up after them, and we make things easier. And as all of that is happening, they are constantly giving to us. Sharing our breaths, regulating our heartbeats, and alleviating our stress and anxiety. It’s a beautiful reciprocity. 

My relationships with my pets have been so unique and invaluable- I’ve always been present with their individuality and many a dog

(and a few cats) have contributed to my well-being throughout my life. And the loss of each one hits differently-challenges me in new ways, pulling out all kinds of buried away emotions. Letting go of Rock opened up a floodgate of unsettled feelings that I’m still trying to

make sense of.

As painful as pet partnership can be, I’ll continue to do it again and again. Our pack has dwindled and our house feels so…changed. But I’m here for it- to feel, to be together, to learn and grow, to evolve. I’ll always let these creatures crawl inside my heart for a little spiritual journey.