Dog hugs couldn’t fix everything

Whenever he did not feel good or was afraid of thunder or a flying insect, Nemo would come running to me for a dog hug. If I didn’t feel well or he sensed I was upset, he came and offered a dog hug.

On Friday, we started out for our usual walk to the boat and got to the end of the driveway when he stopped. I asked him what was the matter, and he told me with his eyes that he suddenly didn’t feel well. So we went back in the house and he drank a bunch of water, then went down the hall and flopped onto the floor by his favourite air vent. His breathing was a bit more than a pant, so being the devoted human, I turned down the A/C for him since it’s his first love.
A few hours later after he made several unsuccessful attempts to get up, I had been down on the floor with him and realized it was more than just heat getting to him. His legs were weak and attempts to stand exhausted him. He clung to me and offered dog kisses as I tried to comfort him.

While my mother was on the phone with the emergency vet, Eenie Meenie My Nemo, The Chosen One, looked at me with panic-stricken eyes, panting more pronounced, hair suddenly standing up on his back, and mouth open as I desperately clung to him and cooed every comfort word he knew. It was our last dog hug.

Nemo passed away in my hands as I stroked his head and velvet ears and realized his breathing stopped. I’m still choked up and crying about losing my dog child. He had just had a physical and removal of a lump on his lip three weeks ago. The vet indicated he had no signs of heart or blood trouble, yet the symptoms he exhibited in his last few hours were those of dog heart failure.

My Nemo was born almost into my hands after I rescued his pregnant mama, chose to stay with me when at four weeks he discovered the Holy A/C Vent, spent his life as My Dog, and left this world embraced by me and the coldest air vent in the house – his two favourite things.

For most of his life, he outweighed me. That’s how big a chunk out of myself is missing right now. Although I hugged and cuddled him continuously until his last breath, this was the first time that a dog hug didn’t cure all. That is a paradigm shift in my world and will take a long, long time to heal. Because the one thing that would make me feel better is the one thing I’ll never get again: a dog hug from Nemo.

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