I have to warn you before you start reading this post. It is a poignant piece. If you’re cool with that, keep reading.

Most of my blog posts are a little looney. Insane even. I know this. Take much joy in writing zany posts. I like talking about writing, drinking, and of course, music. But underneath the crazy facade lies a women who carries her heart on her sleeve. A woman who loves the thought of being in love. Who loves babies and kids and about every animal on the planet.

Those who know me well know I just suffered a huge loss in my extended family. Our sweet German Shepherd, Zeus, died Friday morning after the school bus hit him.

I take comfort in the fact that he was alive long enough to see us. That our family had one last chance to tell him how much we loved him. It wasn’t an instant death. I don’t know if that’s better or worse. The way my heart feels, it’s the latter.

I’ll never forget hearing the commotion as it went down. The deep voice of someone yelling. How I thought the neighbors had started fighting. That I was going to the door, gripping the knob as curiosity built in my gut. But when I opened the door, saw the crumpled face of my son as he came running up the yard, telling me the bus hit Zeus, the heart I wear on my sleeve slipped to the ground.

I ran from my house in socks, across gravel. I’m not a runner. Hate it in fact. But my legs got their work out that day. The bus had stopped two houses down. A group of people, mostly my family, stood just to the right. When my eyes fell to the ground, I noticed my son had made it back. He sat with Zeus, who was on his hind legs.

For a moment, I had a tinge of hope. Thought maybe he had broken his leg. The vet could fix that. But when I came around the crowd, saw the blood not only coming from his mouth, but his lower region, the knot in my stomach grew. I dropped to my knees beside him, feeling helpless and paralyzed. Only two words left my mouth, repeatedly. God, no…

I thought we could save him. I wanted to save him, but the vet my neighbor called said it was useless. That if we managed to get him there alive, they’d have to put him down anyway. I left Zeus long enough to use my neighbor’s phone to call my husband, just to make sure we couldn’t do anything. He only confirmed the news my heart couldn’t accept.

When I went back outside, I fell to the ground. The morning dew dampened my pants, but I barely noticed. Zeus’ shallow breaths were my only concern. I don’t know if he knew at this point that we were there, huddled around him, but if he did, I hope it helped.

The thought of letting him die sickened me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice. Keep in mind, we live in a rural area. And even if we lived closer, the vet already gave her prognosis. So I did the only thing I could. I leaned over, pressing my forehead against his and whispered to him, “I love you, Zeus-y. I love you so much. I’ll always love you.”

My son stayed with him until Zeus was gone. He refused to leave him, despite my protest. Guess he needed the closure. He’s also the one that helped me bury him, along with our neighbors help. I wanted to protect him from every ounce of pain I knew he felt. The same pain I felt. No matter how much we all loved Zeus, he loved my oldest boy the most. Surprisingly he dealt better than I did. I cried all weekend. Even teared up while writing this.

My best friend suggested I post a picture of Zeus on Facebook, to honor him. The only one I could find is his puppy picture. I’m also including a video to show how special my dog was. I hope you’ll see why I loved this dog so much I’m blogging to deal with the grief.  He was more than a dog. He was family. My baby. My protector. My walking partner. And so much more.

It’s still hard, pulling into the driveway when I get home. Zeus always followed the SUV from the bridge to the house, waiting patiently at the door until we opened it. He’d step up on the side runner, stick his cold, wet nose in your face. Or in your crotch… What is it with dogs and crotches? He’d wag his tail so hard his entire backside would twist from side-to-side. But what always got me the most is how he’d whine, like he was telling us how much he missed us. He always went on my walks with me. Stayed by my side until I made it back to the house, even when my sister-in-law’s dog went on ahead of us. When I moved, Zeus moved. When I stopped…yeah. He was a good boy.

I’ll end with a quote from the movie, Marely & Me. No words could be truer about dogs than these. Thanks for reading. Feel free to remember any of your four legged family members in the comments.

“A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, clever or dull, smart of dumb. Give him your heart and he will give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?” -John Grogan