Willow was a good dog. We adopted her from the Humane Society in 2011 at the age of 4. I had been wanting a dog for years, but I was working ridiculous hours at the university and taking night classes. It wouldn’t be fair to have a dog stuck at home when I was on-campus for 10-12 hours a day.
She joined our family the day after I graduated with my BA.
Her name had been Tarheel, and it seemed to me like she hadn’t been well-socialized with other dogs. She was small for a Labrador Retriever, and I suspected she had been kept in a run because, when let loose in our backyard, she would just run back and forth in a straight line.
But she bonded with me immediately. She was my constant companion, rarely even tolerating being in a different room from me. I spent months working with her and other dogs, and she got better and better. She lived to love me and to make me happy, and I never felt like I quite deserved it.
She had two nicknames:
- Widdershins, because for the longest time she would spin in circles whenever excited for dinner, or excited about anything else, but would only spin counterclockwise. Willow Widdershins Stublefield.
- Triangle-Ears because her ears would perk up whenever she thought food or anything else interesting was available.
She didn’t mind the cats at all. Eventually, they came to tolerate her.
She was definitely my dog. She liked everyone, but I was the one she followed and obeyed. For the last 6 and a half years, I have been working from home and she has been my co-worker every day, on the sofa in my office right next to me. For 10 years, she has slept on the floor next to the bed, right beside me.
I was hers and she was mine. But she liked April too.
She generally pretended like our kids didn’t exist. If they were between me and her, she would go right through or over them if we weren’t careful.
She lived 13.5 years. On the way home from the vet, who diagnosed her with kidney disease, I checked online and learned that labs typically live 10-12 years. In dog years, I think that means she was 94.
I think we gave her a good life. I know she made my life better.
I cried so hard at the vet. I knew when we adopted her that this day would come. I’ve been prepared to mourn her since that first day. But it was still hard, so very hard, and I wept on the floor in the vet’s office while holding her.
I’m crying now.
I’m going to be expecting to see her come around a corner in our house for days, maybe weeks. I keep expecting to feel her nudge my hand or put a paw on my leg.
She was such a good dog.
I’ll miss you Willow. I love you. Thank you for being my friend.