By Valerie Partynski
When you first walked in, you were just a fluffy, soft little thing with bright, new eyes, puppy breath kisses—so excited for anything that came your way. You wiggled your way through the whole ordeal, me with my scissors and tools working quickly and carefully. Your feet were ticklish for the clippers and you moved away and into closing, sharp scissors, but we worked through it all and you left—still wiggling—with all body parts intact. The next month you came in and you had forgotten a little, but you stood a little stiller, and a little bit taller.
When you turned 6 months, you came in for your monthly haircut and acted how all teenagers do. You were testing your boundaries with teeth and nails, and I was ready for the challenge. I let you fight and holler for the tiniest of things, never giving up, until you gave me the look. Touching your feet was no longer the end of the world, only much to your distaste. You left, feeling slightly defeated but still happy, and you had learned so much!
The next time you did wonderfully, and everything fell into place. This is where our amazing relationship really began. I looked forward to seeing you on my schedule every month, and your tail would start wagging as soon as the car turned the corner. You would drag your person into the door, excited to get through the gate to see me with barely a backwards glance. Your person would laugh with an eye roll and leave.
So the years went on with our bond, always delighted to see each other every month. I smelled smelly ears, pulled off nasty ticks, felt for lumps and bumps, and told your person when you didn’t seem yourself. You were young and amazing and in your prime. Years went on and our relationship grew. Always a wagging tail and a smile; so happy to be there!
One day you came in and you had trouble jumping onto my lowered table, something you had always been so excited to do. I lifted you up onto it that day, just as I had the first time you came to see me. I picked up your foot and felt the familiar crackle in your bones. I looked at you and realized that your face had gotten grey without my noticing, or maybe I had been in denial that it had happened.
Then that day you slowly walked in, your back legs barely able to support you anymore, your tail, as always still wagging and a smile on your face. I helped you walk back, half carrying, half guiding you, and made sure you got all the extra support you needed that day. I made it the happiest day ever for you, with extra hugs and kisses, and made you look as beautiful as you ever had, letting you know every step of the way how special you were to me. You knew that scarf meant you were done for that day and I was delighted to see a wiggly butt as I put it on you. Your person came to get you and we looked at each other knowingly.
I got the call two weeks later and finished the rest of my dogs with only you in my thoughts. Sometimes when the day is completely against me, and it feels like I am surrounded by pee and poop and all of the dogs are working together as a team to finish me at last, I think of you and remember that this is why I do this. That I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to have been in my place with you. Those moments were ours and I will never forget any of them. Thank you for trusting me and loving me and making me feel that I am doing something right. I will never forget that, and I will never regret it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will think of you every time a little puppy starts showing those razor teeth, with their angry eyes, and remember what these moments turn into. That makes it all worth it. ✂