I chose Austin from a shelter in Washington after seeing how gentle she was with a toddler that was walking around. Yet somehow I feel that she chose me. She was not even a year old and the shelter staff could not agree on what her name was. Her story was that her previous owner was a soldier that either went AWOL or never made it home.
I named her Austin from the Blake Shelton song. I knew that with such a sweet temperament her previous owner must have loved her and I vowed to be there for her. Our relationship began shortly before my (first) husband's deployment to Iraq.
She weathered that year with me, even the long drives halfway across the country. She was there through my tears and always patient and loving, even when I was not. In return I sat out storms with her, snuggling her away from the thunder, took her nearly everywhere I went and did my best to be a good friend and parent to her.
Austin was by my side through all the rough patches and the good. She was by my side through my miscarriage, my divorce, and the loss of several important people in my life. She was a participant in some of my best chapters as well, from adventures we carried out to the marriage of my husband to the birth of my rainbow baby. She was gentle and playful and by my side through it all.
My husband reminded me yesterday about the time we were hiking in Colorado. A storm came upon us and poor Austin was just terrified. We had to carry her to the nearest rangers station and a kind hearted ranger drove us back to our vehicle.
She had a way of warming everyone's hearts, whether they were "dog people" or not. My favorite story was when she caught a squirrel and then laid there snuggling and grooming it lovingly. When the squirrel realized it was not going to be eaten it gingerly climbed out of her arms and scampered away. Austin just lay there heartbroken that her friend had run off.
I could write twenty pages on all the great stories I have of Austin. That is what nearly fifteen years of love and friendship has given me. My heart aches that I will never hold her again or hear her Chewbacca "talking" when she wants something. I wish my daughter would have gotten more time with her but I am equally grateful that my precious fur-baby is no longer hurting.
There are a million reasons I am grateful and blessed to have had Austin in my life. Some of them I listed in my blog yesterday, when I thought I still had several days left with her. Today I am grateful for the tears of love. I am grateful to know she is at peace. I am grateful for all the good memories of the fun we had and I am grateful for all the rough times that were made better by her love. I'm grateful for all the things I did right with her and all the times she forgave me for when I didn't. I'm grateful to get to be there for her in the end and hold her for her last breaths. I'm grateful for all the ways my heart will never be the same for having known such a wonderful soul.
What are your best memories? Have you had a pet that shined a light even in your darkest hours? Have you known the unconditional love of a dog?
May today remind us to do our best and love as unconditionally as we can. May we find peace for the loved ones we have lost and always remember the good times. Have a beautiful and blessed day.