The leaves were falling, and my sister had just turned five that same day. On the date of, October 16th, 2006, my sister and I didn’t know that our lives were about to change forever. My parents had called us into the living room after her party and sat us down.“ We know that you’ve both been asking for a dog for a long time now,” Dad explained, rubbing his bald head. “And we didn’t think that we could put this huge responsibility on your little shoulders.“ He pats my sister’s shoulder.
“ You know I hate dogs, “ Mom sighs, rubbing her temples. “But it’s time you girls learn some responsibility, and this is how your grandparents taught me responsibility as well.“
Dad grabs the tiny dog out from under the computer table and hands it to my eager big sister, Riley. The restless puppy licks her face and wiggles around so much, he falls out of her petite hands. He runs around the living room and barks loudly at my dad. Trying to run back to where we were sitting, he trips over his own feet and lays at mine. He’s the size of my dad’s hand, he’s light tan with black paws; his snout and ears as dark as night. He’s an awkward, jubilant puppy, he’s perfect. We say our multiple thank you’s and tell our parents that we will take care of this little pup. I cup him in my hands and he licks my hand as I pet behind his left ear.“We’ve already decided a name though,”Dad raises his eyebrows. “Magnum, like the gun.” He laughs.
I look into his big brown saucer eyes and know. I know that I’m going to fall in love with this dog. I was right when I said that too. Every day, he would always wake up so early and walk into my room then whine because he wanted to play. When my parents forgot, Magnum would wake us up for school. Magnum was little at the time, but as my siblings and I grew he did too. His legs were lengthy, so he flopped around everywhere he went. His legs were too big for his body; he was so awkward!
When he was just a baby, he had broken his hip, so he had trouble getting up after laying down for a while and had trouble getting up and down stairs. Other than that, he loved to play. He would run around the living room with my friends and I, he would run next to me when I rode my bike, he’d sleep on my bed with me, and he’d sit outside on summer nights eating s'mores and watching the cars fly by our house. When mom cleaned, she locked him in the crate. I climbed in there and sat with him, talking to him about my day at school. We’d play fetch outside, he’d swim with us in the pool, he’d always eat the food off the table and he’d always lick Riley and Iright before bed.
Magnum despised thunderstorms. He’d sleep as close as he could to my sister and I; we’d pet him in his spot behind his left ear and he’d immediately calm down. Whenever anyone pet him behind his left ear, he’d calm down. That’s how we would keep him from being rambunctious every morning and every night when someone came into the house. That’s what I loved most about him, he protected my sister and I against everything.
Magnum was definitely my best friend.Time frantically flew and I went from four years old to eleven, then Magnum turned eight (fifty-six in dog years). He began to have trouble walking, couldn’t get up by himself and couldn’t manage the stairs. Riley and I were worried, but dad said he was just getting old and not to worry. He couldn’t play fetch anymore, couldn’t lay on the bed and couldn’t go outside by himself because dad had to carry him up the difficult porch stairs.
By the time I was fourteen, Magnum was eleven and he refused to eat, drink and stand. His legs were emaciated, he couldn’t get into the bath when we wanted to bathe him. He couldn’t get outside so he went to the bathroom in the house when he had to. Watching this happen to my best friend killed me, he was such an important part of who I was. I grew up with him by my side through everything, and it was such a hard thing to see and feel because he was dying in front of my eyes. All I could do was watch. He had gotten me through my older brother going into the Navy, my oldest sister moving out, my parents divorcing and my life falling apart right in front of my eyes.
We put off the thought that was plaguing our minds since the first day he couldn’t get up the stairs. He was getting so old, he was uncomfortable and suffering every day we couldn’t help him. Magnum’s daily suffering wasn’t only affecting him; it affected everyone around him. Eventually, my dad made an appointment to have him put down. It wrecked all of us, but we all knew it had to happen because he was suffering every day we kept him stuck in his crate. On the way to his appointment, I sat on the floor with him and told him what I needed him to do for me,“Okay Mags, you need to stop scaring the mailman. You almost give him a heart attack every time he comes to the door! You need to keep eating and drinking okay? That’s not something you can put off, Bugga. Make some new friends too, you were only friends with us. You need to stop scaring the neighbor’s cats too, all they want is to get the squirrel across the street! Keep playing fetch, you need to strengthen those legs. Always watch over Riley, dad and I, and visit me in my dreams every single night. I love you so much” I say, laughing to put off the tears.
I pet him behind the left ear, and he put his head in my lap for the last time. I’m going to miss him being a scaredy cat when there are booming thunderstorms, I’m going to miss him stealing my food off the table when I’m not looking, I’m going to miss feeding him food off the table when dad isn’t looking, I’m going to miss my best friend going outside and chasing the neighbor’s clever cats because they came into his lawn. I’m just going to miss him in general.
When we made it to the clinic, we sat there and waited for his name to be called; secretly hoping that his name would never be called. When his name did get called, we went back into the room and sat with him; dreading the moment we watched the doctor walk through the door. We sat on the floor and pet behind his ear for the last time. All I can say about this is that August 25th, 2017 was by far the worst day of my life.
My best friend had left me against both of our wills. I’ll always remember his endless shedding, his endless panting after we played outside, his face he made when he was about to steal my food, his innocent expression when we watched tv together or when I’d pet him to sleep and I’ll always remember the dog that made my life the fullest. The dog who wasn’t seen as a dog, but seen as someone to talk to about anything and everything with nothing but a bone in return.
So here’s to you, Magnum. You always knew how to make me smile at my worst moments, you always knew when I needed someone to have a shoulder to cry on. It wasn’t fair. All my friends got to keep their dogs and mine had to leave me so early. I was starting high school and becoming a woman, and my best friend had to leave before we could gossip together and laugh together. Seeing you on that metal table just tore me apart; I never thought I’d see you so vulnerable like that.You were always the strongest person in the family. When you died, you took a piece of me with you. And I’ll always keep you with me. I had always thought that you were invincible, going against all odds of life just to be with me for the rest of my life; unfortunately, life isn’t that generous. So here’s to your eleven-year life Magnum. Here’s to the endless memories that will drift in and out of my head before I sleep, here’s to your wonderful visits in my dreams, here’s to our friendship that will never die; here’s to being the dog that stole my heart. I love you endlessly, and I’ll miss you until the day we meet again.