When I come home I expect her to greet me at the door. When I get up during the night I expect her to be in her place in the bedroom. When I am relaxing in my recliner I expect her to be nearby quietly and lovingly keeping me company. But she is not there any more.

No, I am not talking about my wife. We are still together and very much in love after almost 44 years of marriage. Neither am I talking about my girlfriend or mistress. I have neither. I am referring to a mixed breed (mostly border collie) dog named Addie.

If you are not a dog lover or have never had a long time pet die, you may have difficulty understanding what I am trying to say.  You might want to stop reading now.

I miss Addie scratching at the door letting me know she needed to go out. I miss the sound of her tags clinking against her food and water dishes as she ate and drank. I miss her waiting for me to feed her. I miss her in more ways than I would ever have imagined.

For almost 16 years she exhibited unconditional love and brought unlimited joy. Now she is gone. I cannot explain what a void she has left.

It was after church on the first Sunday of Advent that she came into the life of my family over 15 years ago. We named her Addie because of the season on the Christian calendar.

Addie was found tied to a tree with a wire and was brought to the Animal Shelter. The scar left under her neck was a graphic reminder of the abuse she had suffered. In spite of that she was the calmest of all the dogs at the shelter that Sunday. Whatever sedatives they had given her wore off a few days after we brought her home and she became very active.

When she was young Addie could jump about 6 feet straight up like she was on a pogo stick. She welcomed people with great enthusiasm. She was not a mean or dangerous dog but if anyone walked down the sidewalk in front of our house, she felt it was her duty to remind them that was her territory.

As she grew older Addie’s energy subsided but her gentle sweet spirit always remained. She would have a look of ecstasy when you scratched under her neck. She loved to be petted and would approach you with the expectation that you would accommodate her.

Eventually age and health issues caused Addie to spend most of her time sleeping. Arthritis made it difficult for her to lie down. Climbing the stairs to our bedroom at night became a real struggle. Her breathing was almost always labored. She would scratch on the door to be let outside and moments later she was ready to come back in. That cycle was repeated often. At times she would just stand and stare and you wondered what, if anything, was on her mind.

On a recent Saturday morning we watched as Addie breathed her last breath and her body became very still. It was a heart breaking moment as she slipped away. No more labored breathing. No more struggle to get around. No more confusion.

I am not a “dog person” but Addie was so much a part of my life and the life of my family. She required so little and gave so much love.

She was just a dog you might say. No, she was a member of the family. And she is gone. If that has to be explained to you then there is no way you can understand the pain and loss that I feel.

The love and affirmation I received from Addie will never be forgotten. But that is the nature of love, isn’t it? – no matter where it comes from.

Jamie Jenkins