Dear Anastasia

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I was in the 7th grade when you bounded into my life.  You were a Christmas gift to my older sister.  She’d been begging for a dog, but she never loved you the way I have.  It’s not her fault.  She didn’t know that she wasn’t a dog person at that point.  But I do know she loved the way you cocked your head when you were listening to something.  She needed your love and she loved you the best she could, but when she left for college she gave you to me.  She’s always given me good gifts and you were the best gift she’s ever given to me.  And from that point on you’ve always been my dog.  Right by my side, at least until the television turned off and then you bolted for bed.

When you were little you would jump up on top of the fence post next to the house and wait for us to come home.  I wish you could be there waiting for when I fly back in June.

I am going to miss our hikes up into the crisp mountains behind our house in Edwards.  The way you would sprint ahead and then sprint back to check up on me.  The dirt kicked off your feet like a small tornado.  Yet, you always had time to sit and wait with me and let me pet you.  I will not be able to hike up through the aspen’s on East Lake Creek Trail with out thinking of you.  I think maybe, you loved that hike more than I did.  You used to go crazy when we would mention the word hike.  After your leg injury, which I am still sorry about, I loved how you would try your hardest to jump into the back of the Pathfinder and then yelp when we would help you make it up the rest of the way.  You still wanted to do things on your own.

I am going to miss how you would nudge my elbow in the mornings so I would pet you while I ate breakfast.  Let’s face it, you could never be petted enough.  I love how you loved to be loved.  You would lick a guy to death just to say I love you in your own little way.

You were always a puppy at heart.  Even when you lost all the hair on your tale and didn’t have any energy, you still loved to jump on command.  And after we started giving you medications for your thyroid and your hair grew back, it was as if you grew 5 years younger in a week.  I think you became addicted to the cheese we gave you the medicine in.  Why else would you jump for medicine?  Even this summer when we went up to the flat tops people asked me if you were a puppy.  And you smiled and wagged your tale.  Your beauty has lasted beyond your sicknesses and your weird behavior.  Even when you ate some of my clothes and I caught you red mouthed, you were still cute.

I am going to miss how you greeted me with that warm smile of yours every time you saw me.  And how big that smile was when I drove all the way up to Wyoming to pick you up.  You jumped when you saw me.  I jumped too.  Stasia, I wouldn’t drive 16 hours in one day for many other reasons.  Even after you woke me up at 5am on New Years Day having pooped all over my room.  You were sheepish and I was mad, but I cleaned it up and I forgave you.  Then you did it again the very next morning at the very same time.  You couldn’t ever figure out how to bark just to let me know you needed to go.  Yet, I love you still.  You have been my dog and my friend.  You may have kept me up and night with your snores, strange dreams, and worse smells, but I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

I know that I haven’t been around much over the past few years.  My job has taken me out of the country.  And it is hard living so far away from the ones I love.  I have missed my fair share of family events, weddings and birthdays.  But not being there to say goodbye and seeing you go is by far the hardest.  Living down here in Guatemala has had it’s fair share of rewards.  I have a special bond with my students.  I hope they know I love them, but it is still very hard to live and work down here when you are sick back home and I am missing you.

I will love you always,

Your pal, Brendan

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