It’s hard to describe in words how painful it is to lose a best friend – so instead, I’ll simply tell you about how amazing having a best friend can be.
I didn’t have a bad childhood. I grew up in a family with two parents who loved me and supported me – and although we had fights and disagreements all the time, I always felt loved and care for. Despite this, at some point in my childhood (I can’t remember exactly when), I started to feel very alone.
In school, I was a good student. I did my homework, followed the rules, and even played some sports. But after being introduced to computers, my entire life changed. I was obsessed.
I no longer felt like being around people. The more I learned about technology, the more time I wanted to spend locked away in my room, as far away from everyone else as possible.
I remember that in high school, there was nobody to share this with. I had very few friends. I started to gain weight, and for the most part, isolated myself from everyone else as much as possible.
Then one day I discovered that a really beautiful girl liked me! I was excited and nervous. I ended up talking to her on AOL messenger, and we spent many hours talking about all sorts of interesting academic things. I was very interested.
I later discovered that although we didn’t have much in common, she enjoyed my company, and liked hearing me ramble on about all my programming projects and articles. She liked me despite the fact that I wasn’t popular, didn’t play sports, didn’t have a lot of friends, and didn’t engage in any of the popular high school activities at the time.
She liked me for who I was.
Our first sort-of-date was a few days before Halloween in 2005. She invited me to go to a party with her, and some friends. So, my friend Eric picked me up and took me over to her place, where we planned to pick her up and drive over to the party together.
When I got to her house, she told me to come inside and take a seat on this rocking chair in the living room. As soon as I sat down, I remember hearing a sharp, tiny bark, emanating from the bedroom area. In what I only remember as a blur, I saw this incredibly tiny little chihuahua sprint around the living room, do several laps (while barking), then sprint back to the bedroom area where the girl who liked me was getting ready to go.
Little did I know that girl would become my wife, and that dog my daughter and best friend.
This was the first time I ever met Scribbles.
Scribbles was a very, very loved dog. My then-girlfriend, Sami, loved her more than anything in the world – and I mean that literally. Scribbles went with her almost everywhere, and only felt comfortable when being carried around by her.
Scribbles became part of my close family almost instantly. She immediately liked me. Every time I’d visit Sami, I’d see Scribbles. I’d pet her, play with her, and sneak her human food when Sami wasn’t looking.
She would fall asleep lying in my lap.
When Sami met my parents and my family, Scribbles did too. My two family dogs: Doby and Jeny, got along great with her. They quickly became good buddies.
When Sami and I both went off to university, my family adopted Scribbles as their own, and took care of her while the two of us were away at school. My mom and dad both loved Scribbles a lot, and always treated her like a princess.
As you can tell, they might have even loved her a little too much! She got quite plump while living with my parents =)
When I eventually dropped out of school, moved back to Los Angeles, and married Sami – Scribbles became my daughter.
We lived in a tiny apartment in Canoga Park, in a rough neighborhood. I worked at home for a 3 person company, just barely making ends meet, and Scribbles was my only companion most hours of the day.
I was working constantly at a very small tech company, trying to make big things happen. In the middle of summer, it was well over 100F, and we only had a wall unit air conditioner. It was hot, smelly, and stressful.
My only real break from work was taking Scribbles out for our habitual walks around the neighborhood which she liked so much.
She didn’t mind that we lived in a rough area, or that we didn’t have a lot of money. She was always so happy when I got out her leash.
When Sami and I fought with each other (which happened a lot our first year of marriage), Scribbles was always what helped bring us back together. We both loved her so much that all our petty arguments and stupid nitpicking were quickly forgotten when we’d all lay down together at night in our big bed.
No matter how upset we were with each other, we’d always find time to lay down with Scribbles, play with her, and dote over her.
Some of my happiest memories are simply of lying down with Sami and Scribbles curled up beside me. The amount of happiness, contentment, and love I felt with both of them beside me was unequaled.
As I continued to move up in my career, I worked even harder. The first three-and-a-half years of my marriage was rough: I worked a lot, stayed home alone almost all the time, and really only hung out with Scribbles.
With all that time alone together, we really became best friends. When I woke up every morning I’d play with her and make her breakfast. When I worked throughout the day, she’d lie next to me and occasionally look back at me to make sure I was doing alright.
Scribbles was an amazing friend and companion. When either Sami or I were sick, she’d lay next to us in bed until we felt better. If I wasn’t feeling great, she’d always be there to hug and squeeze.
When I was frustrated with a programming challenge, I’d start explaining it out loud to her, and would usually stumble across the solution mid-way through my explanation. In that regard, she’s probably helped me write a few million dollars worth of code.
When Scribbles first started coughing, I wasn’t worried. I just assumed she was sick, so I took her to the vet.
During the visit, the vet told Sami and I that she had a mild heart murmur, and that it was something common in small dogs as they get older. We weren’t worried. Scribbles started taking heart medication to help out.
As time progressed, Scribbles seemed to get more and more lethargic. When we took her back to the vet again, they told us that her heart murmur had worsened, and increased her medication again. The vets told us not to worry though – this is a common issue, and she still had plenty of time left.
I was not at all worried.
Scribbles was my dog! She was tough. A little medication would just help her out and things would be back to normal.
Over the next year, things got progressively worse. Scribbles would start coughing more and more, which meant that fluid was building up in her lungs.
One time, we took her into the vet because the cough had returned, and instead of just increasing her medication, they put her into an oxygenated chamber to help her breathe, while they gave her diuretics to help remove the fluid from her lungs. This was the first time the doctors told us that she may not have much time left.
When they put her into that chamber, that was the first time I ever really broke down. I cried, hard. Up until that point, I had never really considered the possibility that anything bad would happen to her. It never even dawned on me that it was possible.
I was her dad, and I was responsible for making sure she was healthy, happy, and most importantly: alive. I felt like I was failing as a parent. I was angry, upset, and incredibly sad all at the same time.
When Scribbles was returned to us the following day, she was very lethargic. It took her a week or so to get back to her normal self, and even then, things were different. Sami and I could tell she didn’t feel well.
She had a hard time breathing, and would take shallow breaths. As we continued to increase her medication to stabilize her, she stopped eating normal food, and didn’t want to sleep in our bed any longer.
So Sami and I delt with it as best we could: I hand-cooked chicken breast for her, and hand-fed her every meal. Sami and I would take turns sleeping on the couch with her, as she didn’t want to be in bed anymore.
We were both very worried about her and didn’t understand what was happening, but in retrospect, I think she was trying to tell us that she just didn’t have much longer left.
We did as much as we could to make sure she was happy. We spent a ton of time with her, loved her, and spoiled her with as many healthy treats as were allowed.
When Sami woke me up early one morning, telling me that Scribbles was having a coughing fit, I instantly knew something was wrong. I threw on a jacket, and we raced to the emergency vet near our house.
They immediately hooked Scribbles up to an IV of diuretics, and placed her in an oxygen chamber. They told us her lungs were very full of water, but that they would be able to stabilize her.
Hours later, we got a status update: she wasn’t responding well to the medication – her heart was very weak, and her kidneys weren’t able to pull the water out of her lungs very efficiently. They wanted to keep her overnight. They said they would call us if she took a turn for the worse.
I couldn’t really sleep that night. I woke up every hour or so and called the emergency hotline to check on Scribbles. She wasn’t making much progress.
I felt horribly guilty for keeping her there overnight.
At about 9am, we drove to the vet’s office and spoke with the doctor. Scribbles was not responding well, and wasn’t stabilized. They weren’t sure they could bring her back to a stable level.
We had to make some tough decisions.
Asking the doctor to do whatever possible to stabilize her in the next couple of hours was the second hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. We spoke with the vet, and we met with a very kind lady who would be able to euthanize Scribbles at our home if we chose that route.
After many tears were shed, Sami and I made the final call. We told the doctor that we wanted to take Scribbles home with us for the day, and that we wanted to put her to sleep that night at our home, with both of us.
December 11, 2014 was without question the hardest day of my life.
When we were finally able to pick Scribbles up and take her out of the vet’s office, Sami and I were in shambles. It was incredibly surreal.
We tried to do what we thought Scribbles would like the most. We went to the grocery store and bought a rotisserie chicken – it was her favorite food. We brought her home and just loved her.
We hand fed her, we kissed her, we snuggled her, and we laid down together.
She didn’t feel well, and wasn’t very active, so we spent most of our time lying down.
We also bought a little paw print kit, and were able to get impressions of Scribbles’ paws for us to keep and hold onto.
When night time came around, Barbara came to our house. It was around 9pm or so when she arrived.
We lit candles, we turned the lights off, and I held Scribbles in my arms the entire time. Before Scribbles went to sleep for the last time, Sami and I both thanked her for being such a great friend and companion to us over all the years.
We told her that we loved her more than anything, and that we were so thankful to have her in our lives.
When the time finally came to do it, and we told Barbara to inject the final bit of medication, Scribbles stood up in my arms, turned to Sami and then myself, and kissed both of us.
It was the single hardest moment of my entire life.
Thinking back about it is still the most painful thing I can imagine. Just writing this out is incredibly hard.
Having a friend and companion like Scribbles dramatically changed my life. Having the sort of unconditional love and affection that only a dog owner can know is such a beautiful and touching thing.
It was very hard to say goodbye to my best friend.
I still think about her almost every single day, and still talk to her from time-to-time when I’m here at home alone. As much as I miss her, I’m so thankful for every second I got to spend with her, and I’m so happy that she had a great life.
I love you, Scribbles.