Regret. Always regret.
A day doesn’t pass without me wondering about the last goodbye. It was a Wednesday morning like any other Wednesday morning. I dressed and packed my bag. She would’ve been lounging in her spot on the kitchen rug or sprawled out on her bed by the window.
The chaos of the weeks since that day has obscured the memory of my last moments in the apartment. Did I give her a treat? Did I crouch down beside her to steal a kiss or a high five? Did I tell her I loved her? Time may bring clarity to the moment, but it may also bring with it the reality that I left with a simple “See you tonight, T” from the door. And if that’s the case, I’ll have to live with regret for the rest of my life.
A Big Unknown
I had never had a dog, so you could’ve imagined my uneasiness when my fiancée and I decided to get a Great Dane. “Great apartment dogs, sure,” I’d scoff while looking around our space, struggling to picture the addition of a massive canine.
To complicate matters, the Dane would be coming from a rescue league. As someone new to the dog world, I assumed that meant he or she would be a project; that we’d have to deal with developmental issues or uneven behavior.
Perhaps we got lucky. Perhaps it was fate. But my assumption could not have proved more incorrect. She had the personality and habits of an adorable grandmother: a worrywart to a fault (she despised the rain), she was protective of those she loved, eager to keep watch of comings and goings from the window, and awake before anyone else. There was a quiet regalness about her every move.
She loved peanut butter and cheese and plant-based “chicken” strips (sorry, Tenley, that wasn’t real meat).
She was the ultimate couch potato, always more than happy to lounge for hours during a Netflix marathon.
She had her moments, with others around, when she knew she was the star and acted like it. “Yeah, I’m beautiful,” she’d think. “Go ahead and pet me.”
The Things I’ll Miss
It’s difficult to romanticize a walk around the neighborhood or an uneventful night in the apartment, but those are the kind of things I find myself missing most.
I miss her face when I’d arrive home from work, thrilled to have company and get outside for an evening walk.
I miss the startled faces of people who, despite my reassurances, couldn’t bring themselves to approach such a big dog.
I miss the never-ending, tongue-in-cheek questions:
“Can you ride that thing?”
“Does it have a saddle?”
“Is that a Scooby-Doo dog?” Yes, yes she is.
Most of all, I miss taking care of such a sweetheart. I miss the just-around-the-block walks on winter mornings. I miss sneaking her an extra treat. I miss the high fives. I miss horsing around with the stuffed animal toys, which stood no chance against her sharp teeth.
I’ll miss you forever, Tenley. Please accept this goodbye in case my last one was lacking.
Tenley was killed in a devastating fire on June 4, 2014. She was six years old, stolen from our lives long before her time. The sadness and anger we feel is eased by the comfort in knowing that she was loved unconditionally. We can only hope that she got as much joy from us as we did from her.
Tenley Lee, 3/28/08 — 6/4/14