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Pawprints on My Soul

Posted on May 1, 2015 by KylieMawdsley

I’m taking a little detour from our usual chitchat about Decorating to share a story with you. It’s not edited to perfection and certainly not grammatically correct. It’s not anything but the story of a girl and her dog.

For those of you who’ve ever loved a dog…

bowser n me

I was 20 years old and looking for love in all the wrong places.  I knew that my neediness and insecurities were natural boy repellants, and yet I felt this desperation to love something, something outside of myself.

And then I looked in the right place…the SPCA.

There were 8 puppies in the pen. 8 black and tan puppies, born on Boxing Day 1999. I sat down on the ground outside the pen and stuck my hand in to receive a fistful of puppy slobber from 8 wriggling bodies. After a while, they all wandered off to drink water, play with each other, nap – all of them except one.

This one little puppy didn’t go  He sat down on the other side of the chain-link fence and let me pet him and talk to him. After about 1/2 an hour he tried to get closer to me and got his head stuck in the fence and starting yelping for dear life. I knew he was the one.

I took him to my Moms house and she opened the door to a smiling girl with an armful of puppy. ‘This is my new dog – isn’t he great?’ Now, in my emotional and financial situation, getting a dog wasn’t the best choice I could have made – but once he and I found each other at that chain link fence there simply wasn’t any other choice. I was his – he was mine and his name was Bowser or Uncle Bowser to those who knew him well.

In his young years, he ate everything. He ate 12 pairs of shoes, a couch, candles, books – you name it. Anytime I left, he would go into panic mode (similar to what I did with my boyfriends – minus the shoe eating). He wanted to be with me at all times, so, he became my sidekick – where I went, Bowser went.

We visited every beach, every park and on those just perfect days, I would bring him to work with me in my Tracker (convertible). The top would be off, the breeze would be blowing and for my 4-6 hour shift as a waitress, Bowser would sit in the car and relax. I didn’t need to tie him up, I didn’t worry about him – he was waiting for me and wasn’t going anywhere until I was. I would sneak out strips of bacon and burger patties as often as I could and give him a pet and a tinkle break. Some people would think that’s odd, but I knew he would rather wait where he could watch me through the windows than sit at home staring at the door.

bowser dressed up

He usually loved getting dressed up and while this was his favourite position, it was not his fave outfit

He slept in my room every nite. I bought a chair for him, a human chair as I didn’t want him to sleep on the floor. I painted his nails pink, dressed him in clothes with my girlfriends and laughed until I peed my pants as Bowser would lay about in his ‘loungewear’ – clearly pleased with his transformation.

Bowser was also my radar – my boy radar. ‘If you don’t like my dog then I don’t like you’. In fact, Bowser was my first serious, long-term relationship and I was fully committed. I laughed with him, cried with him and went on dates with him. He was the boy who stuck by my side as I learned the in’s and out’s of my anxiety disorder and OCD. Never judging, just listening.

And then along came Tim. On our first date I went through the McDonalds drive-thru (super romantic – I know) and ordered a 2 cheeseburger meal. I opened up that first cheeseburger and passed it over to…Bowser, who was waiting in the backseat for his requisite burger – it’s just how we rolled and Tim was okay with it.

I guess I haven’t mentioned what type of dog my Bowser was. Well, it’s really anybody’s guess, but we settled on Doberman, Whippet and Shepherd and MAN could that dog run.

I remember taking him out to Biggs Rd, as 15 years ago there wasn’t any traffic on it. I’d let him out of the car and slowly (and carefully) drive away and Bowser would giddyup and rip on down the road behind me. He loved it, tail wagging he couldn’t wait to jump out and get going as he had some serious energy to burn. We clocked him at 40km an hour.

We took him up to Rutherford Mall once in the evening to throw the ball for him. He ran so fast that when the ball bounced off the wall…so did he, as we heard his yelp echo across the parking lot.

We went up to Coombs one day, another beautiful day as I would never leave him in the car if it was hot or cold. We were parked on the side of the highway, which is what you do in Coombs, and I was worried about him, so I tied him with his leash inside the car. As I got to the other side of the road I looked back to see him teetering on his 4 skinny legs on the top ledge of the roof and proceeded to watch him jump…and hang himself. Luckily a quick run across the road and a boost to the old butt got him back into safety.

Bowser was also a frequent visitor to my Mom and Dads house as I would use them for ‘babysitting’ now and then. I pulled into the driveway at the end of the day and saw Bowser waiting for me on the front step, tied to the doorknob. The next thing I saw was Bowser bounding down the driveway with the doorknob trailing behind him. All I said was ‘Hey, I would NEVER tie him to a doorknob’.

Bowser was also afraid of fireworks. He would shake like a leaf and cower in a corner. I was at a girlfriends one time, just hanging out and Bowser was in her backyard because naturally, he came everywhere with me. I heard some booming and banging and thought, ‘hey, fireworks – cool…wait…not cool…BOWSER!‘ But he was already gone. I searched for him all night and continued the next morning and the whole family came out. Even my Grandpa wandered around the streets calling his name and in fact, swore he ‘had Bowser’ but was actually trying to convince a random dog to get into his car – luckily the owners never saw this apparent dog-napping.

We found him the next afternoon, about 1 block from home. He had run across town. He ran from downtown Nanaimo to almost north end Nanaimo and BOY was he happy to see me – but not as happy as I was to see him.

I remember taking him to my girlfriend’s house who’s Mom very kindly, let me bring Bowser in the house on 1 condition – that he NEVER, step foot on the glorious and plush white carpet in the living room. So, we were hanging out making gingerbread houses one day and I realized that ‘hey, gingerbread sure does look an awful lot like poop’. I proceeded to make a nicely curled pile which I carefully placed on a wee piece of paper towel on her lush carpet. A few minutes later we heard footsteps going up the stairs and a moment later ‘KYLIE…BOWSER!’ I ran to the living room and with a dropped jaw claimed that it just couldn’t be Bowsers. She asked me how on earth I could know that, so I bent down, picked it up, smelled it, took a bite and said, ‘Nope, definitely not Bowsers’.

me n bowser

Bowser also loved to snuggle. I would sit on the floor and he’d mosey on over and park his butt on my lap and flip himself back so that he was belly up, with his head tucked under my chin. We could sit like that forever, just being together like the best friends that we were.

bowser and i snuggling

As he got older it got a bit more awkward as that old back didn’t bend the same way – but he always tried.

bowser sitting

He also liked to sit his bum on the couch like a human with just his front legs on the floor – it was kind of like his ‘party trick’ and was always good for a laugh.

The years passed and Tim and I fell madly in love and got married. Bowser loved Tim and accepted him as one of the family and even shared his morning ‘air hump’ routine with Tim. We’d wake up and look over to see if Bowser was sleeping to see him air humping. It’s the kind of thing that is so disgusting that you beg for him to stop but is so funny that you hope he doesn’t. It was just so ridiculous. Some dogs like their stuffies, some like their beds, Bowser just stood there and humped the air with a goofy look on his face.

And then we had Cassie.

I think Bowser was happy enough that a kid had joined our little family, but a little sceptical as to how long she would last.

bowser

This was his expression when we brought Cassie home

bowser and cassie

It was at the 10th month that he realized, ‘well, crap, that little pink thing is still here’, and when she crawled up to him he bit her.

He could have bitten her anywhere, but it happened to be her face. I heard the rumble from him (which was rare) and rushed over to pick her up as she burst into tears with blood running down her face. I just called my Mom, threw her into the car seat and drove right to the Dr’s office.

After the dust settled, we joked that we should have gotten her a nose ring and lip ring as he had punctured her one nostril clean through as well as her top lip (not funny at the time, however).  She also had little shiners from the impact. My heart broke in two. One half for my baby girl and one half…for my baby boy. What were we going to do?

It’s like the heavens heard my prayers and sent me saviours in the form of Rob and Bobbie – Tim’s parents. They knew that Bowser wasn’t a bad boy. They knew he didn’t have a vicious bone in his body – he just didn’t want to share me with kids.

Which is what the vet said when I took him there the day after the incident and I said through a veil of tears ‘what am I supposed to do here, I can’t get him put down.’ He said that there were two types of dogs, the type of dog that is vicious, that doesn’t just bite, but shakes and shakes – the type of bite that results in stitches and skin grafts, and then there was the type of dog who was simply saying ‘I don’t do kids’. He said that what Bowser did was similar to what he’d do in the wild and had a pack of pups, a kind of ‘hey, get outta my face kid’. He said the kindest thing we could do would be to find him a new home without kids around.

And my heart broke for the first time. All those boys, all of those failed attempts at love and nothing…absolutely nothing hurt more than this. Goddammit, I would miss him. After 7 years of literally being attached to each other, of sharing snuggles, car rides, walks, swims, vacations, death-defying jumps out of cars, late nite crying sessions and many cheeseburgers – I had to say a small goodbye.

Rob and Bobbie live close to us so I got to see Bowie all the time and I could not have dreamed up a better home for him. Every time I went there he’d go through his whine and wiggle routine and I’d plop my butt down on the floor, he’d hop into my lap and flip himself belly up and we would just hang out. And while my guilt at having to do this was at times overwhelming, the reality is that I did not have another choice. He was happy. He wasn’t with me, but he was healthy, he was happy and he was loved – and that had to be enough.

I couldn’t have had him put down. Not in this lifetime. I couldn’t re-home him to an anonymous person – I couldn’t. And I count my frickin’ lucky stars every day that Bowser found a wonderful home that would clearly love him as much as I did (minus the cheeseburgers).

bowser with bobbie

Bowser living a good life with Rob and Bobbie – his own sundeck and backyard to romp in

Bowser adjusted well to his new home, having visited it many times over the years and was overjoyed to go on a 5km walk every day. If that walk happened to be delayed or missed he would walk himself down to the beach and undoubtedly find a dead fish or something equally as disgusting to roll in. This was relayed to me from my in-laws and I would just laugh and laugh – good old Bowz.

He made a lot of friends on his walk. Bobbie had a walking partner who would take Bowser out when Bobbie was away. She wasn’t even a dog person, but there was just something about Bowser that you just couldn’t help but like. I don’t know if it’s because he’d sit his butt down next to you on the couch, front paws on the floor or the goofy way his gangly old legs would amble up to you looking for a pat on the head and a ‘good boy’. He was just an easy dog to be around.

As Bowser got older the vet would remark on how healthy he was, how good his joints and his heart were. Up until his last vet check the vet was still claiming that he rarely sees dogs his age, in that condition – a 15-year-old dog on NO medication. That wasn’t due to the good food (as I fed him whatever I could afford and cheeseburgers) and Rob and Bobbie just gave him ‘dog food’. It was all of that walking.  All of that walking and a whole lot of love.

If that dog could have lived on love alone he would have lived forever.

I knew that our time was running out. The last few years, every time I saw him I’d sit down and chat with him and tell him how much I loved him. How he was my best friend and I loved him, knowing that maybe there just wouldn’t be a next time and lucky for me, there always was. It was a few weeks before that Rob and Bobbie came to the girl’s soccer game and I said ‘how’s Bowz’ and they both said in unison ‘he’s slowed down…’

(And I simply can’t edit at all from here on in, please excuse any errors)

And then the phone rang. Tim picked it up and it was Rob saying that Bowser had to go the vet. He’d likely had a stroke in the nite and couldn’t move his back end  Tim could not even tell me without bursting into tears.

We hopped in the car and got there as soon as we could. He was lying on a soft bed in the garage. He tried to get up when I came in but he couldn’t and before I could even say anything I curled up on the bed next time and just said held him. He was still here.

Rob said that Bowser had seemed a bit disoriented but clearly regained a bit of energy when we came in – he undoubtedly recognized us. We couldn’t get into the vet until 12 and it was 9 – so I knew we had some time. If he had been in pain I don’t know what I would have done, I would have done anything to end it for him. Luckily he was just lying there, taking big breaths with that big strong heart. He looked at me and give me 2 licks and then his focus drifted off.

We lay there for hours. Tim got him and I a blanket as it was cold in the garage and we lay there under that blanket on his old dog bed and talked. We shared stories. We talked about all of the good times we’d had. It felt good to see him close his eyes and drift off to sleep. It was clear that my presence was calming for him and we just lay together and I rubbed those old bones and that lovely thick old coat.

And then it was time. We took him to the vet and laid him on the floor on a soft blanket that the vet had readied for us. I curled up on the floor with him and held him as much as I could.

The vet gave us a bit more time together. Rob and Tim came in and said goodbye – which I know was so very hard for them. Tim said I didn’t need to stay. There was nothing in this God-given world that could have stopped me from staying. I would not leave him – he never left me when I needed him and I would not leave him.

We talked. I told him he was my best friend. How he saved me from me. He gave me something to love unconditionally, something that reflected that love and devotion back. I talked about how I would miss him. I told him he was a good dog, the best dog, the best dog a girl could ever ask for – I probably said this a dozen times so that he would hear it for the rest of his days.

The vet came in and said that it was clear that Bowser had a strong mind and a strong heart, but his body was done and the kindest thing we could do would be to make this process easier for him. He gave him a tranquillizer to relax him. In the few minutes it took to kick in I held him in my arms, as close as I could. When his head started to wobble I held onto it close to my chest and held him tight to me. I wanted his last thoughts and last breaths to be of me; to smell me, to hear me, that girl who has loved him for so long – his soul mate.

The vet gave Bowser the last needle and in a matter of seconds, it was done. I heard this ringing in my ear that very instant and I knew that it was done. I kissed his velvet-soft ears, kissed his sweet puppy smelling forehead and wiped away his tears that had rolled down his face – yes, tears.

I stood up and looked at him, bent down one more time to just absorb his very essence and then walked away.

The vet said he doesn’t see a bond like that very often.

I…can’t…tell you…how much I loved this dog. I can’t tell you what we had, how we were together. I simply can’t even put into words what this sweet gentle creature was to me. He picked me. He saved me. To say his pawprints are etched into my heart is an understatement. To say that they are embedded in my soul is as close as I can come to doing any justice to my sweet Bowser.

Good God, I love you, Bowser, you were a good dog.

I belong to you and you belong to me – on Earth and in Heaven.

Bowser face

Uncle Bowser  December 26, 1999 – March 06, 2015

bowser pic

Well if you made it this far, thank you. Thank you for reading my story. I’m sure you’ve realized that unlike my other posts, I didn’t write this for you. I wrote this for me.

Rob and Bobbie…thank you

~Kylie



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Comments

  1. Oh Kylie, I’m so sorry. This was a hard read, most of it through tears. We lost our old guy in January. Such a hard thing. You did good, I’m sure he thanks you for staying until then end.

  2. Oh my heart hurts for you. And it was so clear that his love for you was every bit as big as your love for him. I love reading something I can feel.

    1. Thank you Mom. I know you loved him too…even if he did ruin your doorknob, favourite shoes, a loaf of bread, a door and I’m sure a few more things in his bid to be with me 😉

  3. Dear Kylie,
    Bowser is one of your angels; he will always be there for you (my belief). Your story reminds me of a treasured bond & similar experiences with my forever friend, Penny (RIP 9/09). We have been truly blessed. Thank you for sharing.
    Peace~
    Michelle

    1. Thank you Michelle. Yes, that’s what I told my daughters. Bowser was with all of our other guardian angels and will be watching over us and taking care of us…yes, I could use a little peace right now with this heavy old chest of mine…thank you.

  4. Kylie, my heart is a bit broken reading this, and the tears are streaming down my face clouding my vision so I can hardly type. I know how much you loved Bowser, and I know how much everyone who met Uncle Bowser loved him just as much! He was just an amazing dog, that’s all. Sad for your loss, but so happy you had 15 years with him, and you got to share a bond with him that most will never know.

    1. Tara, thank you. It’s so neat to hear from people who met Bowz in the good old days. He was my special guy. I just wish he were still here. Thank you for your kind words….

  5. Kylie,
    Oh my word. Words cannot even touch on how my heart feels for your loos right now. At this moment, tears are streaming down my cheeks, that will not stop. My heart aches at the thought of having to say goodbye one day to my own pup, Kona. I read your story, word for word. Your bond with bowser is one that will never be replaced. But instead, will live on in the memories, and now the hearts of all of us reading and crying along with you. God bless your heart. Few people on earth are so lucky to find their dog soul mate like bowser found you. I don’t think thank you is the word I’m trying to find right now. More like a hug is all I have to offer.
    Thank you for pouring out your precious and shattered heart on the screens of many monitors to now read and swallow the pain and joy with you.
    Xoxox
    Ps- tears still flowing

    1. Oh Christy, what a note. Thank you. He really was my soul mate. A hug would be wonderful, even if it’s a virtual one…I can’t even read the last few paragraphs I wrote as it just hurts so much right now. Thank you for writing to me and hug that sweet Kona of yours…
      Hugs, Kylie

  6. Dear Kylie – I am so sorry for your loss. You may remember you met Jake the black lab when you came to help me with colour choices last fall. He passed away peacefully in my arms a couple of weeks after you came – same thing I think, a stroke. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make, but we have to let them go and not be selfish. I miss him every day, but we are blessed that our lives were made so much richer by him. My husband always says he prepared us for having kids!
    Crying for you right now because I know what you’re going through. Uncle Bowser is playing catch with the angels.
    All my best,
    Wendy

    1. Hi Wendy, of course I remember meeting Jake and I’m so sorry to hear that he passed away. I know the experience of holding him was likely as hard for you as it was for me – but what a gift for both of you. It is so hard isn’t it? Man. Jake was so clearly loved, just like my Bowser and that means they did their job and we did ours. How lucky we both were…I hope one day we can both be as lucky again…thinking of you.

      Hugs, Kylie

  7. The love of a great dog accents our life, blends with everything, hides flaws, and brings out the best of us ….a dog’s love is like color for the soul. Deepest sympathy.

    1. Thank you… he really did bring out the best in me and I am a better person because of him. He DID accent my life, you are right and it’s just feeling a bit dull without him. I know with time the sadness will be replaced by happy fond memories…thank you so much for your thoughts.

  8. What a lovely tribute to an upstanding dog. I am sure he loved you soooo much, and was glad you were together for life. And what a life, so full of love and good times, cheeseburgers and walks. He will always be in your heart and it will get easier, just not right away. Treasure your memories and when you are ready put that love into another 4 footed fur baby. Or not, sometimes one soul mate in life is enough.

    1. Thank you Nancy. We did have some good times together, the best times. I hope when my girls are older they get to experience that kind of love – cheeseburgers and all 😉
      Thank you…

  9. Oh Kylie, I’m so sorry to hear of this. I just mopped my eyes and had a good cry thinking of my lost dogs. My Luci is 6 and I dread the day she will go. You had a special bond with Bowser and he will be always in your heart. Big hugs to you. Nancy

    1. Thank you Nancy! It is so hard, isn’t it? And I’m SO glad to hear that your Luci is 6 as I bet she has many more wonderful years to go…I was like you though, even in those young years I’d think of ‘when’ – and couldn’t even fathom the thought. Yes, Bowser is imbedded in my heart and soul…thank you…

  10. Oh dear Kylie, what a touching story. When I saw the title, I knew what I was going to read and would cry but I read it anyway. Had to stop from time to time to recuperate. I feel for your loss and am deeply sorry. Dogs have that certain effect on people which some of them (people) just don’t comprehend. They really are our best friends. Their unconditional love is so powerful. I have two dogs myself. I don’t have children so in a way they are my babies. Tamie just turned 11 last week and I know I will have to face this terrible loss in a few years and it just break my heart. You have lost a dear friend but you have gain an angel. Thank you for sharing this beautifully written story. Please accept my sincere sympathy and good luck during this difficult time. *When the heart grieves over what is has lost, the spirit rejoices over what it has left. ~Sufi Epigram

    Katia
    P.S. excuse my English as I am French

    1. Hi Katie, your English is lovely, no worries at all! I can tell by your note that I probably don’t need to tell you to give that sweet Tamie some extra loves. 11 is still wonderful and I hope you get many more years from her. Yes, it’s that unconditional love isn’t. We have Henry (our beagle/jack russel) and he’s so independent and I just don’t feel like he needs me. His instincts haven’t kicked in at all while I’m walking around in tears, whereas Bowser would have not left my side…it’s hard. Henry’s lovely, but he’s not Bowser…and thank you for that quote. I actually had to sit and think about it and when I did I loved what it said as you are right, I think Bowser left me knowing that he’d had a simply wonderful life full of love…
      Hugs Katie and a good bum scratch for your pooches.

  11. Such a beautiful story Kylie and my heart is heavy and my cheeks are wet. You and Bowzer were so fortunate to have found each other. I share in your grief and am sending you cyber hugs to you and all who loved Bowzer.

  12. Oh my Kylie, so so sorry for your loss. Our little furry friends make us all better people don’t they. Can’t imagine a world without them. Great memories to hold onto. Still sniffing. Sincerely, Marie

    1. So nice to hear from you Marie and thank you. Yes, wonderful memories. After 15 years it’s kind of hard to figure out that he’s just not ‘here’. I know one day this brick will leave my chest, but for now, thank you so much for your thoughts…~Kylie

  13. Kylie your story hit home 🙁 I had to have my Mimi put down a week ago after 12 years of devoted love and companionship. I still expect her to come greet me when I come home,,,miss her so much.

    1. Oh Linda, I am so sorry to hear about your Mimi. I feel your hurt and while I know with time it will ease, it sure isn’t fun. It’s the missing of them. I just kind of wish he was still here doing his thing…I hope your heart finds some calm in the days to come, I will be thinking of you…
      Hugs, Kylie

  14. Am weeping as I read your story. It’s very hard to say goodbye to a beloved pet. So sorry for your loss. A.A. Milne put it best, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”. May your memories together sustain you. It sounds like you had a wonderful bond. Take care.

  15. Oh i am sorry Kylie. What a beautiful relationship you had with him.My dogs are my life and I so get that kinda Love And Bond!
    Your story made my laugh and cry.
    thanks for sharing. Hugs

    1. Thank you Barb! It is amazing what these 4 footed friends do to our hearts isn’t it? I think some of us were just meant for each other and when we find that magic it’s almost once in a lifetime…missing my friend…
      Thanks for the virtual hugs….Kylie

  16. My heart breaks for you. So beautifully written. What a tribute to a loyal loving friend. I have two small fur babies and am giving them extra hugs for you.

    1. Thank you so much Maryanne. All of the these kind people reaching out to me has warmed my heart – it’s simply amazing. And yes, you hug those fur babies and give them a good tooshy scratch. May you have many more years of love….
      ~Kylie

  17. So heartbreaking and beautiful! I’ve always said that dogs make you more human. I hope all the happy and crazy memories you shared so well in your post are helping your big heart to heal.

  18. Kylie
    I recently started checking into your blog for your valuable insights and impressive knowledge as I am in the process of re-painting my house interior and have really found your blog to be so well written and such a great source of information. If I lived a bit nearer I would have already called you up for a consult for sure !
    What is so crazy is that I am a Nanaimo girl myself…..well actually Yellow Point South Cedar area…. but close enough….seeing as I live in NY now….but I thought it was really cool that you are on the island.

    However all that aside what brings me to write today is to express my sincere condolences for the loss of your beloved Bowser. You wrote so eloquently and lovingly of your dear friend that it is impossible to not tear up. Grief is physically painful. It hurts so much. Our beloved pets sit right next to, no…on top of our hearts…The weight of them when they are gone is such a heavy load. For you, your family and of course your in-laws who have lost their boy as well….that is a lot of kleenex !
    We lost our beloved Freddy a few months ago unexpectedly, and it is still hard to talk past tense. We miss her serene beauty every single day. But she still makes us laugh …remembering her funny antics.
    I am touched how you honored your dear friend by sharing such a lovely and moving tribute with the world. By your photos I know you both deserved nothing less.

    Love knows not it’s own depth until the hour of separation.” Kahil Gibran

    1. Oh Pauline, thank you for such a lovely note and I’m sorry to hear about your Freddy. Every day is a bit easier, but darn it, I wish he was still here….And that is cool that you used to live in Yellowpoint – wow Yellowpoint to New York – that’s a culture shock for ya!

      I hope time is being kind to you with your Freddy memories, already I’m feeling a load lightening when I think about my Bowser and the good times we had…
      Hugs, Kylie

  19. Kylie,
    Came to your site to pick a paint color for the living room, and found so much more. Before I could click on the articles about grey paint colors, I saw the doggie picture and I was a goner. I just read about your long love affair with Bowser. A million people will probably write you and say that they also held their sweet doggie through those last moments. I am one of them. I also couldn’t – would never – have left Ginger to face her last moments alone with strangers, it had to be us who held her. We tried to extend her life through a fast moving cancer. The most difficult memory that I have is “the moment” that we knew that we were at the end of the road, we couldn’t save her, we couldn’t even keep her here on earth any longer, that this day was THE day. Just like you, Ginger was my “become a grown up” dog. I learned responsibility from her, I am a better person, a better parent because of her. I loved that dog so much that I couldn’t get another one for years. Well, we finally got another one, another funny looking rescue mix just like Ginger was. I call our new doggie Annie Ginger by accident every day, and you know what, I dream about them both, both of them in one dream! Its the closest thing to closure and comfort I’ve experienced. I hope that you won’t do what I did, I waited too long to give my heart to another little friend. I thought I was hollowed out, empty after the wrenching loss of Ginger, and I thought I could (and perhaps should) never invest that much of myself into a dog again. But, the door to the happy go lucky world they live in can be accessed with another tail wagging goof-ball that looks into your eyes like you are all the world to them. And then your soul is home again in a place where you and your new friend and your memories of your old friend can somehow coexist. Thank you for sharing your sweetie with all of us. Hugs to you!

    1. Oh my goodness, here I am sitting in a coffee shop in tears. I just love when someone else ‘gets it’. You SO nailed it, part of what I was trying to say in my post, but didn’t feel I could quite articulate – He was my youth, my first experience with loving something outside of myself, he taught me how to give unconditioinally and wholeheartedly. We are so lucky, aren’t we? I think our Ginger and our Bowsers were made for us, and us for them.
      We do have another dog, his name is Henry and it’s really hard. You know, I love dogs ALOT and I just haven’t connected with Henry (it’s been 2 years). I think it’s because I know he doesn’t need me and could really give 2 hoots about whether I come home or not. He is very uninterested in me (and everyone) and it just makes it all the more obvious the difference between him and my sweet Bowser. Since Bowser passed I’ve been telling my hubby that I want another dog, a dog that is ‘mine’. A dog that loves me and that we ‘choose each other’. Henry really belongs to the kids and even then, he’s so independent he doesn’t really connect with them either (although they love him to pieces!!). I think they just don’t understand what a dog can ‘really’ be like. I guess I need a needy dog. One that sits on my feet and follow me around and can’t WAIT for me to come home! Henry is part Jack Russell, which I think is his independent part and it’s so hard on me when I’m SOOOO craving that creature comfort. There, I said it. I haven’t really put that out there yet as my sadness has just sat with Bowser. I’m hoping hubby will say yes to another dog or that one will just happen into our lives by ‘Kismet’ or fate. Thank you for your note (oh shoot, here’s the tears again!)
      Your ‘Annie’ sounds like a lucky dog and it’s so funny, I’m big on the dream thing (having had some really neat dreams about my grandparents who’ve passed away) and believe that it’s really the way they communicate to us to say hello and let us know they are okay!
      Thank you again, SO much…
      Hugs and tooshy scratches for Annie…~Kylie

      1. Kylie,
        You are so lovely to share a vulnerable part of yourself on your site. It reminds all of us that even as we go through the world doing the most practical of things, searching for paint, that we can deeply connect with real people, caring people out there online, who even though they don’t live right next door, are like virtual next door neighbors. We found both Ginger and Annie in just the way you described finding Bowser. In a noisy frenetic place with more cute wiggly little puppies than you could imagine, I was drawn to the quiet ones with the big eyes who seemed to watch you carefully. Neither Ginger or Annie was the “cutest” puppy in the room, not the coolest breed, not the wiggliest, not the most playful. In other words, not the puppies that everyone else there seemed to love. But, both Ginger and Annie looked us right in the eyes and held our gaze and seemed to listen closely when we talked. They seemed as drawn to us as we seemed drawn to them. While other puppies wiggled away to new faces and new hands outstretched and were easily tempted away by other excitement nearby, both Ginger and Annie stayed with us, happy to be held by us and touched and cuddled and whispered to. Annie and Ginger were already “ours,” they were already “home” and our hearts were theirs before our names were filled out on the adoption forms! It’s that heart-to-heart feeling when you meet for the first time. I am overstaying my welcome in “comments-land,” but you’ve made my day, and now the tears are wiped away and I am left with a sigh, a smile and a visit with good old memories — and a nice next door neighbor somewhere out there in the world! Be well, Debbie Carver

  20. It’s 4 am , couldn’t sleep, got up to check out your design pages and came across this lovely heart felt story. The tears are flowing. It’s amazing how such a little ball of fur, can bring such connection and unconditional love to our souls. Although it hurts like hell when we loose them, we are truly blessed to have had them in our lives, So sorry for your loss, I truly feel your pain.

    I had a Rottie named Skittles for 12 years and he passed due to a stroke. I was the same, lying on the kitchen floor, stroking him, talking to him, telling him what a great dog he was and that it was ok for him to go. I sobbed for hours, after he passed. My ex husband and son took him into the vet to be cremated, I couldn’t go. 3 days later I had his name tattooed on my foot, he will always be a part of me!

    I have been searching for a designer, and after reading this, know you are the one for me. Will be in touch soon.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

    1. Hi Zowie…thank you. I cannot BEGIN to tell you how comments like yours have touched my heart and helped with the healing. I still look at his photo everyday and think of him and I HOPE that one day I can have another soul mate like him (we have had our dog Henry for 3 years and he is NOT the soul mate type – and that’s okay – there will be another someday…)

      And Skittles, what a sweet name for a big boy! I bet he was a big bear of a thing. Bless your heart for what you did. I talked to a girlfriend who works at a vets office and she said it breaks her heart how so many clients leave their dogs at the end, how they can’t handle the ‘passing’ part. Like you, I couldn’t imagine not being there, it was the least he deserved.

      Thank you for sharing your Skittles story with me, I’m so glad you were there for him and he was obviously a great friend for you.

      And yes, I hope to hear from you as I would love to help you with your home as already I feel like I know a lovely little part of you!
      Hugs, Kylie

  21. Hi Kylie,
    Thank-you kindly for sharing your moving story about you and your soul mate, Bowser:) I initially found your page through google searches as I hunted for paint color inspirations. Thankfully, I stumbled upon your beautiful tribute.
    We lost our 11 year old Jack about 15 months ago and it was a deeply painful loss. Jack was by my side as I crossed many milestones from the age of 20 to 30. Ex boyfriends, meeting my now husband, working at a fishing lodge in summers, getting married, lying on my lap while I studied throughout University, moving cross country, exploring the west coast for several years, moving up North for my first nursing job, starting a new business with my husband. Helping me cope with an anxiety disorder and some difficult times with depression. Oh, did I mention, many cheeseburgers? He was with me through it all. That big heart of his and soulful patience never waivered. He showed me what it looks like to live deeply in the moment and most importantly, taught me what it feels like to love and be loved unconditionally.
    Losing Jack was extremely painful and still is to this day. Although, the pain is not as raw and slowly, it is becoming easier to find laughter in his memory. The joy that those 10 years together brought to my life are indescribable and worth every tear.
    Today, we have 4 rescue dogs and a foster dog who are all unique gifts in our lives and we love each one of them dearly. But something about Jack. We are forever bound!
    It was refreshing and encouraging to read about your journey with Bowser. Not everyone is so fortunate to experience that kind of soul mate. I feel privileged and proud to call myself a lucky one. I am encouraged every time I meet someone who just plain understands.:) Congrats for living the good life and experiencing love in such a simple and perfect form! Sending hugs your way. It will get easier. And you will never forget him. As you aptly titled your tribute, his pawprints are on your soul.

    1. Thank you Ang. Aren’t you so lovely to have all of those rescues? If I weren’t married to a hubby who is a ‘one dog man’ I’m sure I would have a home full of furry babies. Isn’t it funny how there are some dogs that just imprint themselves on events in our lives that at the time just feel like ‘life’ but looking back were actually these huge milestones?
      As for the anxiety disorder, as I’m sure you read I have one as well and there is simply NOTHING like creature comfort to soothe my spinning monkey mind sometimes. I find when I’m having an especially anxious period I absolutely crave another dog – like it’s a need. We have Henry who is a rescue from Mexico. He’s a lovely boy who’s a mix of Jack Russell/Beagle but he’s terribly independent and doesn’t really fill that spot for me, even though he is a good boy in his own special ways.
      You’re right, I never will forget him, people still talk about him like ‘Remember when Bowser did this?’ and it always brings a smile and laughter and the odd tear.
      Your dogs are so lucky to have you and your sweet Jack is never far away…uh-oh, here come the waterworks again…
      Hugs, Kylie

  22. I feel your pain, Kylie, and I share your loss. So sorry to hear about Bowzer. The hubs and I were in the U.S. two weeks ago when we got news from my daughter that one of our three boys, Teddy, had died tragically from snail bait poisoning. We never even knew there was any snail bait on this property, which we moved into in August last year! With all the inevitable backyard jobs to do in the run-up to our departure, we had totally ignored a tiny little garden shed out back, inherited from the previous owners. It was always something we were ‘going to get around to’, but never did. Then the rains hit hard during our absence, flooded this little shed, and leached out this toxic lethal mixture onto the soil behind it. Tragically for us, and for Ted, he developed a taste for it and managed to force his way into the shed to consume even more of the stuff. It transpires that both he and Banjo, another of our boys, ripped into four packages of the bait and spread it around the garden! Cooper didn’t indulge. Ted died and was found lying in the garden, while Banjo and Cooper were rushed to the Vet – Banjo luckily pulled through after enemas, drip, stomach pumping and charcoal. He’s being hailed a ‘miracle’ dog at the Vets! BIG lesson learned. Nothing will ever replace our Teddlebugs. And nothing, sadly, will ever bring him back. So I feel your loss, from the bottom of my heart.

    I am curious to know what decisions you made when it came to dealing with Bowzer’s remains. Did you bring him home to bury, or did you have him cremated? Our Vet held onto Ted’s remains while we got our heads around our big loss, but in the end we decided to give him the respect and love we felt he deserved, and had him cremated in our absence. Our plan is to bury his little casket in the back yard and plant an ornamental tree over it, in his memory. He deserves nothing less. I’ve been told that making decisions like these, on the heels of a tragedy such as ours, is one of the hardest things to do. I agree, but the sense of closure from knowing that we did what was best for Ted and for ourselves, brings much comfort to us now that we’re back home.

    RIP Bowzer and Teddles. xo

    1. Oh Heather, I am SO sorry for your loss and I’m so glad Banjo pulled through – what a tragedy for your family.

      Yes, we got my Bowser cremated. While my hubby made me a lovely little box for him, my in-laws still have his ashes as I just don’t think I’m ready yet for them. Goodness, I tear up even writing that – isn’t it amazing what these fellows do to our hearts…

      I’m glad your Banjo and Cooper still have each other, as it would’ve been a great loss for them as well as their little ‘family dynamic’ would have shifted.

      Thank you for sharing your story with me, I’m just amazed at how many lovely kind people there are out there who I would have otherwise never met without this canine connection….

      Many hugs to you and your family and some butt scratches for Banjo and Cooper…

      xo Kylie

  23. Heart wrenching story Kylie. I’m glad it wasn’t Bowser that followed you today …or maybe it was! Who ever got out I hope you found him safe and sound.

  24. Kylie thank you for sharing this story. I am so very sorry for your loss. Dogs are such beautiful creatures that give so much love to us. He was very lucky to have you and I completely understand the love and friendship they give us. Their lives on earth are much too short.

    I loved all the pictures of him, but the way he “sat” on the couch was hysterical! What a beautiful boy.

    Blessings
    Anne xo

  25. I am at work, I work in an ICU, and I am crying my eyes out. I am so sorry. I myself have a best friend named Charlie. He is a miniture schnauzer. I love him like crazy. I can’t imagine when he goes. He is my world. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Oh Tracie. 6 months later and I’m still so touched to get notes like yours. Enjoy your little Charlie, they are just gifts aren’t they. We just got a NEW furry friend 2 weeks ago and we named him Doug (Golden Doodle) and he is 10 weeks old and his favourite place is curled up at my feet. Already he is helping to fill that little hole in my heart…
      Lots of tooshy scratches to Charlie and hugs to you…
      ~Kylie

  26. I have a vivid picture of Bowser from all of the wonderful details you included and the sweet and funny photos. What a cool dog, and you are a very cool person – you guys were the perfect match and looked great together.

    Your story played almost like a movie in my head as I read it because it’s so well written, descriptive and emotionally open. I feel like I’ve met both of you as a result!

    I was crying during the sad parts (so much that I had to pause my reading a few times) but there was a really positive quality for me underlying because every step of the way you made a conscientious choice even when it was very hard to do so.

    You had a love and respect for Bowser that I wish more people would have for their animal companions.

    I’m very sorry for your loss, but very glad that you were willing to post about your life with Bowser because it’s so moving and inspiring. 🙂

    ~ Lillea

  27. Just read your story about your dog. Cried. Feel somewhat silly. But cuddled my aging dog who has been my best friend. Take her on all of my design jobs. Somehow she is always welcome. She is a medium sized brown poodle. Yes I am a typical old lady with a dog that I love and who loves me. Enough said.

    1. Oh Laura, you know that IS what it’s all about – you are both lucky to have each other. It’s been almost a year now (hard to believe) since I last saw my Bowser. We have our dog Henry who is lovely, but definitely not my Bowser and we have our new dog Doug who is currently sleeping at my feet and warming up that sad place in my heart. He’s a golden doodle – so 1/2 poodle! He’s smart and snuggly and a bit of a doofus at 6 months old. Yet I’m still not ready to have my Bowsers ashes in our home yet, my heart is still a bit sad (oh shoot, tearing up again…).
      You hug that love bug of yours all you can…
      Hugs, Kylie

  28. Happy New Year, Kylie!

    Thank you so much for your sweet and sad story.
    Bowser, you were a good boy, a very good boy.

    Hugs, Sylva

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      Author
  29. Kylie – Thanks for sharing your personal story – I have had to help about 4 dogs to doggy heaven and it has never been easy. My vet is a good friend and has come over to the house to help me say goodbye. All of my dogs were in my lap then they went – very peacefully. We should be so kind to our humans as we are with our pets.
    Bob Weight
    Denver

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      Author

      Thanks for your note Bob. I’d never been through it before, and I was surprised at how peaceful the process was, it actually gave me a great memory with him because it was just right. And I agree on the human part too…
      ~Kylie

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