My dog Millie died a week ago today. She was one month shy of her 14th birthday. I remember the day she joined our family - my daughter had just turned five years-old, and she recently turned 19! On a whim we followed the trail of a newspaper ad that led us to a small farm just outside of Toronto, where we were greeted by a very proud black Labrador Retriever mother.
She trotted after us into the barn where nine black Lab/Shepherd pups were scampering around a pen. One of them bounced toward us and even though we just came to “look," this little six week-old black puppy stole our hearts at that very moment. The next thing I knew we were driving home with this sweet but nervous puppy, who my daughter announced should be named "Millie."
We drove directly to a Pet Smart and bought her a crate, pink collar, leash, bowls, puppy food, and of course, lots of chew toys. Once home, my parents came over to meet this surprise new addition to the family. My mother picked Millie up and hugged her tight and I think it was then that Millie knew she was home.
After a few days of adjustment our quiet and shy puppy turned into a little monster! She tried to chew everything; she bit at our pant legs and tore my shirt sleeves with her tiny, but very sharp baby teeth. She dug up the garden. Millie ran circles at top speed in the yard and at the park. She stole and ripped apart our daughter’s stuffed animals every chance she got and knocked over the garbage cans in the bathrooms. Millie was a handful and sometimes I wondered why I ever got her.
But the puppy stage passed and Millie blossomed into the sweetest soul I have ever met. She placed herself at the centre of our family and gave us years of love, laughs and affection.
And now I realize that it is her eyes I will miss the most.
I saw it in her eyes that she was looking to me for help to understand what was happening to her body. I did everything I could to make sure she was comfortable and to calm her so she wouldn't be so scared.
When I say it is her eyes that I will miss the most, what I mean is that I will miss the love I felt whenever she looked at me.
I will miss when she looked at me to make sure that she could see me and I could see her when she walked ahead of me.
I will miss her look for approval and I will miss when she watched me with those almond-shaped brown eyes as I cooked for every Shabbat.
I will miss how she looked at me as if to say, I'm here for you.
I will miss when she deliberately avoided eye contact when she knew she was in trouble.
I will miss how she looked at food.
I will miss how she would suddenly look to the sky to watch the ever growing white trail from the back of a jet.
I will miss her look of joy when we came home.
I will miss how she looked at the postman when he walked up on to our porch.
I will miss her “I have to go outside" and her” I'm ready to come in" look.
I will miss her hopeful look when asking for a cookie.
I will miss how she looked at orange hockey balls and I will miss the look in her eyes just before she bolted after a squirrel.
I will miss how she smiled with her eyes.
I will miss how she looked at my husband and daughter with such admiration.
I will miss the excitement in her eyes when she saw my father.
I will miss her eyes as they began to close for her afternoon nap.
And most of all I will miss the look in her eyes as she opened them for the first time each morning and saw me.