August 9th, the day before my 29th birthday, I had my best friend Asbjørn put down. A month and a half prior, following a week of disinterest in eating, we took him to a vet where we were informed that he had kidney disease. A visit to another vet the next day further informed us that he had between two weeks to two months left to live.
It was a hard month and a half of taking care of my fur baby, doing everything we could as his body slowly failed him. We had a lot of good days, breaking a more recent ban on sleeping in the human bed to get in more cuddle time and bring him back to a spot he's generally owned. We couldn't spoil him with treats as it would further stress his kidneys, but we gave him all the love we had.
My mom and dad flew in to have their final goodbyes to a dog they loved and cared for while I had been in college. It was subsequently the same day that we decided to have Asbjørn put down, his body no longer being strong enough to carry him around.
I've had a lot of pets throughout my life so far. I've loved a lot of furry creatures. This was the first one that was solely my responsibility. Beyond that, he was the smartest and most caring of them all. We understood each other so well.
We got Asbjørn a few weeks after we had our family dog Jenna put down. She was a Great Pyrenees and like Asbjørn, died of kidney disease. She was a great fluff ball who caused a lot of chaos, but held our hearts. When we lost her, our house and hearts had horse sized holes in them. I'd come home after school and browse all the dogs on the humane society's website. I found one such puppy named Hercules that I was able to badger my parents into considering adopting. Mom and I drove up to see him. He was a pudgy pitbull puppy with the most calm of demeanors. I sat on the ground and petted his velvety head as he sat there, undisturbed by our presence.
The calm was broken by another floppy eared pup with a drool covered rope that he dropped in my lap. Slightly annoyed by the disruption, I tossed his toy away so I could spend more time with Hercules. The peace was short lived as this puppy and his drenched toy soon returned and plowed between Hercules and I to drop his toy. This process repeated itself a few times as I sought to distance myself from this ball of energy and further see what Hercules was like. "That's Flash," the lady told us. "He has little hearts on each of his sides." The name fit this cute, needy creature that refused to give us space. His energy was endless — much more so than my patience. We toured around to see the rest of the dogs and then returned home. I made my case for Hercules and felt quite confident we'd be getting him.
After school a few days later, I opened the front door of our house and, much to my dismay, there sat Flash in a little mesh camo kennel. My gut hit the floor and my annoyance with my mother hit the roof. "Surprise!" my mother said, or something of that sort. "That's not Hercules..." I replied. "I know, I know. I was just a little worried because he was a pure pitbull."
Here I was, stuck with this creature named Flash that demanded my undying attention. I was annoyed, but only for a short while. His big puppy eyes, floppy ears, and love of being held like a baby broke me quickly. He was my early Christmas present and he turned out to be my best one.
One of the best gifts Asbjørn gave me came that first Christmas. We adopted him about a week or so before Christmas and, with it being the holiday, my sister was home with us. Him being a puppy and all, he was still figuring out potty training and the likes. Being the smart puppy he was, he knew he wasn't supposed to go inside, but he didn't know how to tell us he needed out.
Well, one afternoon, a great shriek issued from our entryway. I ran in to see what the commotion was. My sister stood with one food held just above the ground as my mother helped her with the snow boot. As fate would have it, Asbjørn was a real poop sniper. In an attempt to hide his shame, he had dropped a deuce inside a snow boot in the entryway closet. Kristine had gone to slip on the snowboots to take Asbjørn out for a potty walk which was, unbeknownst to her, too late. She slipped her foot into that poo boot and issued a howl that shook the house. She stood there, so upset, while I stood a few feet away doing my own howling as I tried not to bowl over with laughter. Maybe that was Asbjørn and I's first real moment of bonding. Either way, it was an impressive start to our friendship.
Further down the road, my foot, too, was a victim of his poop. Though mine came at a bleary eyed hour after I failed to listen to his warnings as I fought for sleep.
It's hard now to imagine that those stories are at an end. I keep thinking about all these moments we shared throughout the years.
|Chelsea accidentally squeezing a fart out of Asbjørn and him fleeing the scene of the crime.|
I think about the way he use to upside down spoon me, pushing his feet into the bed to assure that he was securely pressed against me. I think about the ungodly warm and sticky nights in Missouri in a house with dysfunctional air conditioning. We lay naked on the top of the bed, covered in ice packs and wet rags, trying to keep from overheating and just trying to get cool enough to sleep. I think about how he'd burrow down to my feet like a little worm under that sheets and stay there until he had exhausted the oxygen supply, his body unnecessarily heaving for breath under this self-driven confinement. I see him standing at the bottom of the stairs in Missouri, giving me a stern stare through sleep soaked eyes at 10pm as he aggressively hinted that it was time we go to bed. I think about how much he loved bed and how just saying the word "bedtime" as a puppy could wake him from a dead sleep and lead to him jumping up and running to his kennel where he'd climb in and pick up his blanket to wrap around himself.
I think about how he figured out how to play a game of tag with me in the kitchen, taking turns chasing each other around the small round table. I think about his excitement the first time he saw the ocean, running full blast up and down the shore line as water sprayed in his wake. I think about all our little games we had together, like hide and go seek. I think about all the times I watched him open his own Christmas and birthday presents, ripping at the paper and bows until he made his way to the toy, which he'd gingerly tug free.
I think about how he'd find whatever ray of sunshine was beaming through the house's window and nap there. I think about all the mornings I'd wake up surprised to find him spooning me head to head (he preferred to have his butt by your head). Those always made me pause in the moment, enjoying the fact that he had wormed between my arms while I slept and placed his head on the pillow next to mine. I also think of the times he spooned me in bed in his classic butt to face formation, gassing me in the middle of the night without warning. I returned fire of my own a few times, trapping him in a prison of his own making.
I think of his pouty lip, extra pouty as he napped. I think about how he burrowed into you for napping. I think about the hair between his paws that he hated me touching but was just so damn soft. I think of how - even though he had his own sleeping bag for camping - he demanded to squeeze his way down into the bottom of mine, keeping us both toasty.
|Left, the usual butt to face cuddles. Right, the stuff I lived for.|
I've been sitting on this post for three months, frozen in my inability to fully articulate what Asbjørn meant to me and my life. I can't seem to make a tribute that can ever fully encompass the hole there is or the presence there was. It feels as if by failing to include a great photo or video I have of him, I've failed his memory. And perhaps it all really just boils down to not being able to say goodbye. Finishing this means closing the door on Asbjørn and all we had together. It means saying goodbye to my best friend.
Last week would have been Asbjørn's 13th birthday. It crushes me he wasn't here to rip open some presents and sprint along the beach.
He'll always be this fat little puppy in my heart, looking for any opening to climb into my lap. I'll never forget all our adventures we shared. I miss my little furry co-pilot, but time moves on and so must I.
Love you forever you furry little bastard - my little turkey butt. See you on the other side. <3 <3
PS. I'm still blaming my farts on you. Sorry.