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I was just about to leave for tennis practice. This would be like any other Saturday morning, but today was different. I knew when I walked out the door, it would be the last time I would see him. I was dreading saying goodbye to Spanky so I was acting like I was really caught up in tennis. When I know something is going to make me sad, I try to block it out so I don’t have to think about it. This normally works, but today I wasn’t fooling anyone, not even myself. I felt numb. These past few weeks had been a rollercoaster of emotions, but this was the end of the ride and the scariest part. I knew this day had been coming, but I never believed it would actually arrive. All I wanted to do was run as fast as I could, and trick myself into thinking I was running away from my problems. Instead, I decided to go about my daily routine as usual. It was finally time for me to go to tennis.
Spanky was waiting by the door, hoping I would take him with me. He was lying on the floor instead of standing like he normally did. I could tell he was in pain. Spanky looked up at me with his large eyes, I wondered if he knew what was going to happen. I picked Spanky up and squeezed him as tight as I dared without hurting him. I stood there for a moment holding him, thinking about how much I was going to miss him. The longer I held Spanky the more I didn’t want to let go, but I knew I had to. I gently put him down and patted his head one last time. I told him I would see him later, but I knew this was a lie. I felt a lump in my throat and hurried out the door before the tears came. I wanted to fight the tears, but it was an uphill battle.
I started thinking about all my memories with Spanky, and everything he had taught me. I never knew it was possible to grow so close to a pet. I remembered the morning I first got Spanky and a smile slowly spread across my face.
It was a Christmas morning and the house smelled like blueberry pancakes. I had just woken up and was excited to open all of my presents. I knew it was going to be a memorable Christmas because I could feel it. After breakfast, my family took turns opening the presents. I didn’t like waiting for everyone to open their gifts because I just wanted to tear all of mine open, but it was a tradition to do it this way. After everyone was done opening their presents, my mom said that she had forgotten one. She left the room and came back a minute later holding a stocking with a pug puppy inside of it. I had wanted a dog ever since I was a little girl, but my parents never caved in. It had been a few years since I had asked for a dog for Christmas so I was stunned. I ran over to him and held the surprise in my hands. The puppy was supposed to be for the whole family, but I already considered it mine.
Spanky instantly became my partner in crime. Not everyone if my family was fond of him at first, but he slowly won over their hearts and became part of the family. I started teaching him tricks, like how to roll over and sit. I tried to teach him how to play dead, but he never caught on to that one. We frequently began to go on walks to the park. Spanky loved to play with the other dogs, and I enjoyed receiving compliments about how adorable Spanky was. He was a very well-behaved dog, except when we walked by the tennis courts. Without fail, Spanky would stop and watch with fascination as the tennis ball bounced back and forth. He would follow it with his eyes and almost go into a trance. I would try to tug on his leash to make him move, but he couldn’t stop watching. Spanky loved tennis.
On one particular occasion a man playing tennis noticed Spanky admiring him. The man threw Spanky a tennis ball and began playing fetch with him. The man then asked if Spanky and I wanted to play tennis with him. I declined and told him I didn’t know how. A few minutes later, after a little persuasion and a quick a lesson on how to hold a tennis racquet, I was on the court. I was hitting a lot of balls into the net at first, but I quickly got the hang of it. I soon began to actually enjoy myself. I had played a lot sports growing up, but nothing felt as natural as tennis.
I bought my own racquet and would go to the tennis courts with Spanky. I would practice serving and he would fetch my balls for me. It became a ritual for us to do this several times a week. Before long, I started taking lessons and made friends to play tennis with. Spanky came with me to the courts whenever I went, and would play with the balls, or rest in the shade. After a summer of this, I decided to try out for a tennis team and made it.
Spanky and I grew closer as time went on, he began following me wherever I went around the house. Everything was going great, but then I noticed that Spanky began acting differently. He didn’t have the energy he used to and began losing his appetite. I knew something was wrong so my mom and I took him to the veterinarian’s office. While at the vet, my worst fear was confirmed. Spanky had been diagnosed with cancer. He had a tumor on his spleen, and it had started spreading to other parts of his body. I asked what the options were to save Spanky, but the veterinarian told me the chances of long-term survival were poor.
I felt sick when I first found out, but almost didn’t believe what I had heard. When I walked out of the vet’s office and saw the cars passing by on the street, I felt angry and sad. I didn’t understand how everyone could go about their daily lives, when I had just found out that news about Spanky. Everything seemed wrong. I didn’t understand why Spanky had to get cancer, when I had taken such good care of him.
My family discussed the options, and we decided to put Spanky down. I knew he was in pain, and that it would be selfish to try and keep him. I got to spend two more weeks with Spanky, and tried to do as much as possible with him. Over those last weeks with Spanky, I began to accept everything. It was hard, but the anger began to sweep away. I tried to focus on enjoying the little time I had left with him instead of dwelling on what I couldn’t change. I wanted Spanky to spend his short amount of time left doing things he loved. I took him on walks and to the tennis courts without trying to wear him out too much.
Spanky and I grew closer than ever before during those two weeks. The day he was going to be put down was soon approaching. I had decided that I didn’t want to go to the veterinarian’s office. I knew it would be too much for me to handle. So my parents were the ones who took him.
Spanky introduced me to tennis. Without his love of the sport first, I never would have gained my love for it. Tennis is still a large part of my life today. I still take lessons and play several times a week. I’m never to forget the memories I have of him, or the things he introduced me to. He will always hold a special place in my heart.
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes things appear in our lives for a short while then leave unexpectedly. These things can have a large impact us. We can grow very close to these things and learn to love them in a short period of time. It’s hard when we have to walk away from the things we love, but we will always have the memories to take with us. Part of the beauty of life is when we lose one thing-we often gain another. So even when we walk away from things we love, we often walk towards new things. This is the natural process of life and it’s beautiful.