Goodbye Yukiko · 17 March 2018
I never knew I could cry so much for a dog.
Grief is a strange thing. It is sad and it is happy. It is maddening and gladdening. It is part of life. Even if we wish it was not so. At least those are some of the thoughts and feelings I have had over the past few years. And while losing a parent and a pet are completely different things, they are much the same. After all, we love them both. And we grieve for them both. Maybe what my wife said is true. Dogs are people too.
Actually, I think that we have been hosting an angel in our midst for the past sixteen years. Oh sure, our little dog, Yukiko, got into mischief and had a few potty accidents and she barked a lot. But she loved us well, and she kept our yard safe from moles as she made her appointed rounds. She was a West Highland White Terrier after all.
I am sure that most people would agree that their pets, especially their dogs, become part of their family. (Some people might even agree that they are people.) They are very social animals after all and surely think of us as their packs. Yukiko was always part of our family. Right from the day she got here. Of course, getting her here was part of the reason I think we might have hosted an angel.
I did not want a dog, but my mom said that we needed one. Our kids needed the experience of having a pet. Of having a dog. All I could think of was the mess. Actually, all I thought of was the dog poop. (It has been a while since I wrote about poop. But it really was a consideration.) And then there was the barking, which I never even thought about. Still, Mom being Mom, got her wish. And it was not with the argument that the dog would help clean up messes under the kids’ chairs when they were young.
Well, we thought about adopting a dog from a friend, but that did not work out. (It tried to eat our oldest when he came back from being away for a weekend.) So we ended up getting Yukiko. We knew it was meant to be.
Yukiko was this tiny thing. She came with her own little Beanie Baby too. A little black and white panda that contrasted with her all white body. She loved that little panda through the years until it had no stuffing left. But she still loved it even then. Mostly though, that little dog loved us.
And we loved her too.
Yukiko liked to play fetch as a youngster. And it was always fun to see her race around the house for no reason at all. She would start in one room and race around and around. Then, she would just stop. She and the boys would have fun playing in the water or in the snow. Every season was a fun season with the dog around to play with the boys. She was with us for sixteen wonderful years, but slowed down the last couple. The boys did not really play with her much anymore then except for our oldest who had taught her to bark at his fingers or toy guns when he made a shooting sound.
We all loved that little dog.
But upon Yukiko leaving this earth, I cannot help but think that our little dog was more than just a dog. I really do see her as an angel. Or at least some sort of emissary from God. After all she taught me many lessons.
I learned better how to live in the moment. Yukiko did not worry and helped me remember that I ought not either. She was always excited for any little thing, especially supper. And Saturday morning pancakes. (I regret not having those pancakes for the last several weeks of her life.) She taught me that I needed to treat my family with respect and dignity. She taught this especially well, as she aged, and had a few more accidents and was not able to do all her jobs quite as well.
Mostly, our Yukiko taught us about unconditional love. When I scolded her or called her naughty names, she still loved me. When I ignored her, she loved me. When I was sad, she loved me. Always, under every circumstance, she loved me. Just like God does. Which is why I say that we hosted an angel for the last sixteen years. It is not just the grief talking.
Writing is part of my grieving process. It is how I process the loss. I wrote a bunch when my dad died. And I wrote this and a poem when my dog died. I will still process the loss for a while and I am sure I will cry some more. For we lost more than our little dog. More than a family member. We lost our little angel. But I am thankful for the time we had together.
Thank you for the time we spent together. And thank you for the lessons you taught me. Goodbye Yukiko. I hope I get to see you again. (It is hard to believe I am still crying.)
© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi
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