Dexter.

Oh Tenderfoot, do I have a story for you. Put your head back on your pillow, rest your eyes, and I’ll tell you a story about the most magical of loves.

I was upstairs and in bed, not yet asleep but well on my way, when I heard a click-clack tapping coming from the kitchen just down the stairs. I looked to Tim with eyebrows raised and shrugged, “Well who could that be?” I asked. “It must be Dexter,” he answered. Of course it must be Dexter. Your click-clack tapping sounds much more like stomping. But that would be remarkably unusual. Every night when you kids are home with us, Dexter sleeps in your rooms. One night in yours, the next night in your brother’s. It’s part of our ritual, our routine. For as long as Dexter has been a part of our family, since he was just 10 weeks old, he has slept in your rooms. He stays there all night, only getting up to spin in a circle and lay back down in a cooler part of his nested mattress. He won’t leave your room until you do.

So back to the click-clack tapping, the shuffling drag of paws across carpeted stairs, and then my bedroom door was pushed open. Dexter’s beautiful golden face poked into the room, soulful brown eyes revealing that this was where he needed to be. He came with intention, steadily and quietly moving around the bed to sidle up next to me where he stood, nestling his long nose into the crook of my arm. His tail wagged, but not fiercely. I hugged him back, grateful for the surprise visit. Tim and I smiled and laughed; Dexter’s easy to laugh with.  He didn’t relent. It was the most persistent of gentle hugs, and when I finally straightened my back just a little, Dexter pulled away slowly and lumbered over to the other side of the bed to give Tim an armpit hug, too. And then there was a break in our giggling just long enough to hear a cry, distantly, downstairs distantly. I said, “Ohhh, that’s our Tenderfoot crying.” And I realized that that was why Dexter came upstairs, breaking his ritual, his routine, persisting in his gentle hug, successfully getting our attention.

I hit the bedroom floor quickly and ran down the carpeted stairs, thwapped my bare feet across the kitchen floor, and glided – I like to think I glided – into your dark room. Your face was wet in tears. Your foot was aching. It had been months since your growing feet had ached and made you cry. It was the first time it had happened in this house where our bedrooms were farther apart and my maternal super ears had not yet been properly broken in. You had been hurting and crying and I couldn’t hear you. But laying there next to you, loyal and loving, Dexter could. And when it was clear to him that I wasn’t coming, he click-clack tapped across the kitchen floor and relayed the message to me. And as I glided into your room, Dexter shuffle-dragged his paws across your rug, just behind me, to sit here, right here, next to the both of us. And I rubbed your foot to make the aching go away.


And while I rubbed your tender foot to make the aching go away, I told you a story, a story that happened just now and leading up to here. A story about you, and your mom, and your stepdad, and your brother, and our family’s very best friend, Dexter. What a magical love we have between us. Don't you think it's magical?

You nodded your head in earnest. I kissed your forehead and stood to leave. And Dexter snored softly, just inches from your fingertips. 

in the most loving of memories for the most magical best friend, Dexter.

Comments

Ladies in Navy said…
kelli, i am so so sorry to hear of your loss. what a beautiful, moving story. our pets are such wonderful friends, that unconditional love that cannot be replaced. this moved me to tears. thinking of you and yours today.
Thank you. It is a very sad time indeed. He was only 5.
Melinda Ott said…
What a sad story, but what a beautiful tribute....
Kelli, I love the tribute you have posted! Our family dog is 15 and I know his time is getting shorter, I can't imagine how awful you and your family feel. I do know that a family friend recommended a book to me, "Dog Heaven" it's a children's book about what happens to pet's when they pass awhile. Although, it is a kids book- I read it and found that it could give all ages some solace. Keep your head up. Thinking of you!
Thank you, Rachel. Dexter was taken too soon by cancer, and we lost a close family (human) friend to cancer on Halloween. My kiddos have known so much loss at such young ages. Thank you for the book suggestion. I'll go find it.
marlynn said…
Oh Kelli, I am so very sorry to hear about Dexter's passing. You've written such a touching, beautiful tribute. It's clear that he was well loved and lived a sweet life with you and your family.
Create/Enjoy said…
Very sad, but beautiful post.
Geoff said…
This is awesome. What a smart li'l "boy" you have.

Those wings make me thing...hrm...flying dogs could be useful.
Bonnie Weeks said…
That is a very beautiful story. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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