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Sometimes you just miss your dog

| Thursday, March 9, 2023

When I first left for college, the thing I knew I’d miss the most was my dog, Bentley. I knew I’d miss the way he greeted me at the door at the end of each school day as if he hadn’t seen me in years or the way he’d sit in chairs next to me during an online Zoom class. Although at times annoying, I knew I’d also miss the way he would sleep in my bed, leaving no room for me to move. And, I’d miss the way he would continuously paw at me for attention, as if I’d never given him any before. Whenever I went out, I would always complain about the shedding from Bentley that even my Lululemon Align leggings couldn’t escape. But admittedly, I would even miss the endless strands of golden Bentley hair. 

My family had gotten Bentley unexpectedly at the start of COVID-19 during my junior year of high school. A few weeks prior to getting Bentley, my family’s golden retriever, Tucker, had passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. Tucker was my childhood dog, and losing him was a devastation I thought I didn’t yet have to experience. The day we lost Tucker all of the memories with him came flooding back, including the day we got him. My aunt had Tucker’s biological sister and had convinced my mom and dad to inquire about the one puppy left in the litter. That puppy happened to be Tucker, who at the time was nicknamed Tugboat because he was the biggest boy in the litter and loved to play tug-of-war. After some inquiry, they had been told that Tugboat was already spoken for. At the time, my brother, Connor, and I were devastated because we so badly wanted to have the sibling to my aunt’s puppy. 

A week after we had received the news that Tugboat had been spoken for, my dad received a call saying that he had been returned. The couple that originally had him had a newborn baby and a toddler, so having a puppy ended up being too much for them to handle. While I’m sure the situation was bittersweet for them, it ended up being perfect for my family who desperately wanted this puppy. I remember telling my mom that when God gives you a gift, you don’t say no. And in many ways, Tugboat, which we eventually named Tucker, felt like a gift from God. He was the best dog and had the biggest heart. 

Seven years after we had gotten Tucker, we received shocking news that no pet owner wants to hear. My mom was driving to my school to pick me up from an AP exam, and when I saw her, I instantly knew something was wrong. Tearfully, she told me that Tucker had collapsed and tests revealed that he had hemangiosarcoma, a cancer that develops from blood vessels. This news shocked my entire family because up until this point he was seemingly fine. We were also told that there was nothing they could do to stop the spread of this cancer and that he had two days to two weeks left to live. We spent the next few days not knowing when it would be his last, until it finally was. This was the day my family had been dreading, and in that moment of saying goodbye, I would’ve given anything to go back to that cool fall day in September of 2012 when my parents surprised Connor and I after school with Tucker. 

About a month after Tucker had passed, my mom and brother made the same trip to Michigan that my dad had made years earlier. Although this time, they were bringing home Bentley. This was a bittersweet moment because, while we were still grieving the dog we had just lost, we were ready to make room for the new one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t join my mom and brother on this road trip because I had an online exam to take, but I think the thousands of texts I sent them asking for updates made up for it. 

From the moment Bentley came home, I knew he was meant to be in our lives. He was the perfect calm and chaos amidst the isolation during the pandemic. He was the perfect distraction to everything going on. And in many ways, he chose me as the family favorite, which made me even sadder to leave him for college. Because he was a pandemic puppy, he wasn’t used to many people having to leave the house. When I left for college, I wondered if he would think I had abandoned him. Needless to say, every time I come home from college for breaks Bentley gets so excited to see me, and I am equally just as excited to see him.

Isabelle Kause is a sophomore at Notre Dame studying sociology and minoring in journalism. When she’s not busy, you can find her listening to country music or Taylor Swift or trying out new makeup/skincare products. She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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