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I had been so afraid to write this post, because that means that I have to confront a reality that I wish had not fallen upon my family.

On January 13th – my twenty-third birthday – my beloved dog, Romeo passed away. He was ten years old.

I cannot talk about the nature of his death, mostly because my eyes are so sore from crying, but his death was unexpected and it took my entire family by surprise. And we are all absolutely heartbroken and devastated.

I don’t want to say that I am a particularly sheltered person, but this is the first time I am experiencing loss in its entirety. The grief has been coming in waves – just when I think that I am going to be okay, a wave of sadness and utter loss comes over me and I’m back to feeling like I’m drowning.

These last few days have been hitting me like a train wreck. Hearing the news about his death in the middle of the night. Seeing the empty space where his food and water bowls used to be. Dog treats and toys that won’t be used anymore. Desperately trying to listen for the pitter patter of steps that are just never going to come.

I have been sleeping with Romeo’s “baby”, The plush puppy he has guarded and doted on these last ten years. I pressed his baby to my face. It still smelt like Romeo. They reminded me that I had been left behind, that my better half was now gone. I laid down on my now too-big bed and I cried. I cried like a baby. Until then, I had held everything together but it just all came flooding out. I have never felt this empty or hollow ever in my entire life.

Despite the pain that is ripping my body in half, I refuse to associate Romeo with this pain and heartbreak. Instead, I want to remember how excited he would get when I would tell him that he was going for one of our walks, how his puppy eyes could melt even the coldest person and how he loved and was loved in return.

As dog owners, you take on this duty to teach your dog how to be, but really Romeo was the one teaching us. In ten years, Romeo taught my family and I valuable lessons in life, love and what it means to be a good person. And for that, I will always be thankful.

If you have a dog, cat or any other pet, please go and hug them. They are a valued member of the family.

I just had to share a few pictures of Romeo here. I’ll always love and miss him.

Romeo:  October 29, 2005 – January 13, 2016

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