The way I felt when I came back home this morning was a feeling I knew I’d have to face at some point, but dreaded it. My heart is torn, a piece of me is missing, I’m having a hard time catching my breath, but mostly, I’m just sad.
I grew up with English Springer Spaniels and a Brittany Spaniel. The ears were what first made this breed so attractive, and then falling in love with each of their personalities gave me such joy and laughter.
But there was something about a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: a toy version of the incredible spaniels. I dreamt of this most beautiful breed to be my companion and lap dog, something I yearned for in my later teenage years, but never got.
Jon knew my wish was to get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. But when was a good time to get a dog? Before we got married? After we got married? After our first child? The truth is, there is never the perfect time to do it. After we got engaged and moved in together it didn’t seem like a practical decision. We both worked full-time, we were planning a wedding, we traveled back-and-forth to Michigan often, and we had busy lives.
But we all know by now that when I set my mind to something, I become obsessed. And, this was no different. On June 5, 2010, I found the exact puppy I had envisioned and knew I could not pass It up. After calling the breeder, I was told another family was interested, but he was only accepting cash and wasn’t sure if the family was able fulfill the payment. He proceeded to say that if I came up that day, the puppy would be mine. My eyes lit up, my heart pounded from a rush of adrenaline and I stuttered on the words as I attempted to relay the information to Jon. For some reason on that day, we both sprinted to the car, sped to the ATM, and headed up to this home where our new puppy would be awaiting our arrival. We couldn’t think of a better birthday present for me.
His name was Rosco on the internet, but we named him Benji on our ride home, who overtime established nickname after nickname after nickname. He was the cutest, sweetest, and happiest little puppy, and for all of us, it was love at first sight.
There were so many special things about Benji, but the one I always told people at the beginning was that the feeling of sharing a common love with Jon was so incredible, but indescribable. He was our baby, and we treated him like it. He was the center of our world—the “King.” Love seeped out of this cute little guy, and I couldn’t get enough. When we got married a few short months later, and we discussed the possibility of having kids, I had this immense fear that I wouldn’t be able to love anyone more than I loved my dog.
During our first year of marriage, Jon worked long days, so Benji and I spent an extraordinary amount of time together. We went for long walks (and I mean long), he came running with me, we went to the park, I took him for snowballs, and when home, he attached himself to me in anyway he could.
Then I got pregnant. And went off my antidepressants. I went through a traumatic year: cried endlessly, needed to be outside walking, and desperately needed some extra love and companionship. And, oh how Benji was there for me. We were best friends, buds, who did everything together.
Then Levi was born. He was so loving with our newest addition. (And, yes thankfully I loved Levi just as much.) Then we moved homes. He moved with us. Then Austin was born. He kissed the hell out of him when he came home from the hospital. And, finally, Nolan was born. Benji was there for it all.
The kids loved him, and he loved them back. It was the best!
He always seemed anxious and scared around other people and dogs. Our explanation was that he just wanted to give all the love and loyalty he had to us. And, that he did.
My heart aches. Life without Benji will never be the same. There is a reason they call dogs a “man’s best friend.” We handed that breeder $595 cash and never looked back, and it was the greatest investment we ever made. I guess the saying goes, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” I love you Benji with all of my heart.