When Velcro that is firmly stuck to something gets ripped away, it often leaves behind rips, holes, and tatters. Artemis was that Velcro, and the shredded, tattered fabric is my heart after her very sudden and unexpected passing last week.
She was only 8 years old. That’s barely half of the typical expected terrier lifespan. She was my Adventure Puppy, with so many plans still ahead of us, and I feel cheated out of the rest of the years we should have had together.
I know everyone always wants to know,”What happened?” The short answer? We don’t really know for sure. Vet suspects maybe some kind of internal cancer that ruptured and caused internal bleeding. She went downhill so quickly and so unexpectedly it caught everyone off guard. One of the few consolations I’m clinging to out of the whole ordeal is that she passed in the comfort of her own home, in her own bed, surrounded by her “pack” who loved her.
It’s been a week, and it still feels surreal. There’s a part of my brain that thinks, “This has all been a nightmare, and I’m going to wake up and everything is going to be fine.” But the gutted feeling that accompanies me is a tangible reminder that this is all too real. There’s a hole in my heart, and a void in the house. She was such a live wire, so full of liveliness and spark, that even if she was totally silent, you knew she had entered a room just by feel and the elevation of the surrounding energy. Not that she was very silent for long — she was always quick to make her presence known and politely demand that attention be paid to her.
She was my first dog. Of course, I had grown up with the family Bouviers (another absolutely amazing breed), but after the passing of our last Bouv, the house stayed dogless for a couple of years. And then the opportunity to acquire a Decker Rat Terrier puppy presented itself, and I had the blessing of my parents to bring my own canine companion into the household.
But even as I call her “my” dog, the reality is, she was a family dog, and firmly lodged her way into all of our hearts. She came into the household during a time when her sunny disposition, cheerful and playful nature, and the endless laughter she generated, was desperately needed.
She was my travel buddy, my trail companion, my “better than a teddy bear” comfort-giver. She was my running coach who helped work me all the way up to running a 50k. She saw me through so many ups and downs of the past 8 years, whether it be joyous celebration or a quick tongue to catch my tears.
She was the dog that broke all the rules. Long-held declarations and intentions of the dog’s place in the house went right out the window with this one. I always said I’d never allow dogs in bed with me. Well, exceptions were quickly made within the first couple of months when I tucked her in my sleeping bag to stay warm on our first camping trip. Fine, so no dogs in bed…except for when we’re camping. Ultimately, that “no dogs in bed” resolution lasted all of six months before I relented and found out just how much space one small terrier can actually take up on a double bed.
Dogs have never been allowed on the furniture in the house…but there’s a large bedroom chair and 3 office chairs that are now the exceptions to that rule.
When I brought Sofie home, that really completed her world. She adored her mama, and although she tested Sofie’s long-suffering patience on a daily basis, she also taught her how to play, and the two of them turned into quite a tag-team of daily laughs and entertainment.
She really was like a shining star that burns so hot, so bright, that it can only be contained for so long. She packed so much into her 8 short years, and truly got to live life to the fullest. She was my best friend for the past 8 years, and I will carry her pawprints on my heart for the rest of my life.