Today is a blue sky sunny kind of day. It is the type of day that usually makes you happy. The sun feels warm as I ride in the car. There is a breeze from the windows being open. The air smells clean and fresh with apple blossoms blooming. I love these days just riding with my mom, my head on her shoulder, letting the world whiz by. Mom usually sings and gives me kisses as she drives, except when she gets angry at some other cars. Sometimes she uses bad words and yells a little. I think I should bark at them too, tell them off really good since they got in my mom’s way. I am a good rider. I wear my seatbelt. It allows me to sit just so my bottom is on the backseat of the car and I can still reach to give snuggles as we drive.
Today seems like most days that I ride home from work with Mom, but it not like most days at all. Today is a beautiful day, but Mom is crying. I hate it when she cries, it makes me feel sad. You see, a lady gave her a copy of that poem that makes everyone cry, something about a colorful bridge where animals go when they die. Mom always says it is difficult when you lose a pet as it is, but that poem just makes it worse when it is actually meant to make it better. The poem is not the only reason she is crying and I know it is not my fault, but it still makes me sad that she is so upset.
My name is Vinnie. I’m a Dalmatian. My mom is driving home from the emergency vet facility where she was told that I had to be euthanized today. I was very sick and the ugly cancer growing in my belly hurt a great deal, but watching mom cry is almost as painful. I know she is sad that I am gone, but I’m not gone. I am right here with her like I always am. I want her to know it is just fine, I am not sick now.
It doesn’t get much better when we get home either. I hurry in the house, my house. I am excited to see Dad and pester the cat. Mom is still crying, as she carries in my blanket and my collar, and now Dad is sad too. I watch as they solemnly gather up my toys and place them into a bin. The food bowl is washed and put away, my collar is laid on the table, and all my things are being packed away. Now I am sad. My family is hurting and I can’t let them know how great I feel now. I am a little confused, I know I am not really here anymore, but I am here. The cat sees me . . . he told me I still bother him. I wonder why no one else can see me if he can?
I stay close as evening draws near. I give my usual snuggles and wiggle under the blanket as everyone settles in for the night. I love my family and I will watch over them just like always. On one of my perimeter checks that I do during my nightly sweeps, I notice that with the removal of all my things, the bell that hangs from the front door that I use to ask to go outside is still there. They didn’t take it down. That’s it, I exclaim! I will ring the bell. They will know I am here. So ring it I did, over and over. It seemed like no one noticed. I rang that bell for days it seemed.
Time goes by much quicker now. I stay close with my family watching over them like always. It has been a week or so since I passed and today Mom picked up a strange box that has made her cry all over again. She puts her hand on it on the seat next to her as we drive home. Quietly she carries that box in the house and sets it on the table. Dad is there too. They exchange glances and I watch him walk to the front door and untie the bell. He brings the bell over and places it with my box. Mom and Dad hold hands and begin to cry. Dad says aloud, we know you are here with us still, we heard the bell. We are sad you are gone, but we are happy you don’t hurt anymore. We miss you and love you very much, but Vinnie, it is time for you to go now; go; go be happy and we will see you again. They both smile and I give that little bell a final jingle.