Today I Lost My Friend

Today, I lost the most loyal friend I have ever had. My heart is broken.

In the grand scheme of things, with everything bad that is happening in the world, it is an insignificant loss. But, to those who knew and loved her, it is not.

My friend lived a life that we can all learn from. She had a gentle spirit and an exuberance for life. All she wanted to do was love and to be loved. She was successful at both.

My friend was fiercely loyal and often was a great judge of character. From the moment she met someone she instantly knew if that person were to be welcomed or not. If this person were not welcome, she certainly let him or her know.

My friend was always there when I needed her. Every time. If I got a call late at night to cover a breaking story, she was there to see me off. Likewise, she was the first to greet me when I got back home.

My friend was afraid of thunder. When the thunder rolled, though, I was rarely there for her. Duty called. But when I would return, mentally drained and exhausted, she was there for me.

In her younger years, my friend liked to run. Seemingly for no reason, she would run laps around the house as fast as she could. Sometimes she would do this when I would come home for lunch or at the end of the day. She was so happy to see me. It always made me smile.

There were times when my friend had her moments. She could be very demanding and test my patience. We would have a battle of wills. She always won.

My friend lived life on the edge. She snuck past security at Mount Rushmore and at Yellowstone to get up close and personal with the beauty those places have to offer.  She was very taken with the sights and enjoyed exploring them.

My friend had many other adventures. She went to the Sturgis motorcycle rally one year, and proved that not all bikers are big and bad as she melted their hearts as she strolled among them.

Through the years, my friend left her mark in eight states, on two college campuses, and on one hotel bedspread.

If you haven’t guessed yet, my friend was a small shih tzu: Patches Snowball Pittenger. That was her registered AKC name. We let the five-year-old twins name her. What can I say.

Many people probably think that by taking the time to write this that I am over reacting. Maybe even that I’m out of my mind.  She was just a dog, right? But, she was much more than that. She was part of my family.

On Saturday morning I had to let my friend go. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. As my crying wife held Patches’ s head and rubbed her ears, my friend peacefully slipped away.

I believe that one day there will come a time when I will see my friend again: on the other side.

My friend was a part of my life for nearly 15 years and grew up with my children. For that, I will be eternally grateful but will forever have a Patches-shaped hole in my heart.