My experience losing my pet while away at college

What happens when you lose your childhood best friend while you’re at school

It’s hard to find a starting place, losing a pet is never easy. The day I got him, I remember being so excited to get a puppy, little did I know I was going to get a best friend. I remember picking him up and him snuggling against my neck and licking my face when I’d get close. I remember not wanting to put him down because I loved him so much.


Growing up with him was the best. He always wanted to play and have his picture taken. When I was sad, he was by my side, licking away my tears. Every time I came home, he was there, jumping on the door, barking in excitement because I returned home.


As he got older and larger, he didn’t play as much, but that’s okay. He still snuggled all the time and stayed by my side. I remember every time I was sick or hurt, he was laying with me with his head on whatever hurt. He was so loyal.


I remember when we brought him home a sister, too. She picked our family more than we picked her. When we brought her home, she was scared of him because of his size, but he quickly showed her he meant her no harm. They loved each other until the end.


When his health started to decline, his sister didn’t leave his side. She snuggled him, let him eat or drink when he wanted, and didn’t seem hurt when he’d snap at her – she knew he didn’t feel good. The week leading up to losing him, she had to know something was up – she wasn’t used to getting hamburgers every day.


Losing my pet was, I thought, the hardest thing I’d have to go through. That was before I allowed myself to realize that his sister was old, as well, and would some day follow him. My heart was heavy that day as I snuggled up with him, knowing it would be for the last time. I knew he was in a lot of pain and it would be easier on him this way, but I couldn’t help but cry as I let go of my best friend.


Now, it’s been two years since I said goodbye to him and it’s gotten a little easier. Being away from home has made it strange, almost unreal – I still expect to see him waiting for me at the door when I get home, to come to the couch and lay in my lap. I’m glad I got to spend every day of his last week with him. Unfortunately, now comes the time that I didn’t allow myself to prepare for before, the time I never wanted to believe would come. The time I have to say goodbye to my last childhood pet – only this time, it’s different – I’m worried I won’t make it home to see her before it’s too late.


I can’t help but wonder if she misses me and wonder where I am. She knows I spent all the time I could with her brother when he was going, but this time I live farther away and that’s not as easy – does she feel cheated? I hope she knows that I love and miss her every day and would much rather be there for her like she always were for me than here, taking exams.


Every time I get a call from home, I’m worried it’s the call. The phone call telling me that she was just too sick and couldn’t wait any longer for me to come home. I hope I get to say goodbye to her in the same way I did her brother – she deserves that. But if she can’t hold on that long, I hope that she knows I love her every bit as much as I love(d) him.


Saying goodbye to her is the last thing I want to do, but I know I have to sometime – she can’t live forever, as much as I want her to. I know it’ll be every bit as strange to come home and not have her or her brother there, but I’ll manage. As long as she leaves this world knowing that I love her, I’ll get through it.


Goodbyes are never easy, especially with family, but they must be said.

James Madison University