An inspirational letter by Michael Groetsch written through the loving voice of his aging dog Leo.
You have no idea how much I love you. I will never forget the moment when you walked past me in the animal shelter so many years ago. I was just a puppy and nearly drowned in the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina. I was the only one in my litter that survived. A nice lady who found me on the streets of New Orleans after the storm brought me to the shelter where they bathed and gave me the first meal I had in several days.
When you came into my kennel area that day, I did everything I could to get your attention. I barked until I cried. I also wagged my tail and bounced around in hopes that you would notice me. When you finally picked me up my heart was pounding in my chest. I began praying that you would select me over the others. I licked your face and put my paws on your shoulders. Please pick me, I squealed. Please take me home, I whimpered. And you did. Out of all the other pups, you chose me. And I chose you. While you may believe that I rescued you, I assure you that you rescued me. I wanted so very badly for someone like you to take me to my forever home.
I have lived with you and Mom for over 12 years now. You let me sleep with you in the bed and we cuddle on the sofa while you watch TV. I know that you sometimes get aggravated when I slap you with my paw in hopes of getting another belly rub but such a moment reassures me of how much you really care. I am sorry that I follow you everywhere you go in the house but I am so very afraid that you will leave me one day. The reason that I bark and grab your wrist as you go out the door with a suitcase is because I am so afraid that you may never come back. It would kill me to lose you. I don’t know if I could go on. You are my life. When I walk with you in the morning and you tell me never to leave you, I only wish that I could verbally respond. If I could speak, I would tell you that you are my world. My first image when I wake in the morning is of your face and my last thought as I fall to sleep in the late evening is how much I look forward to being held by you the next day. When you pick up my leash for our daily walks my heart starts to flutter. I know that I must look silly to you when my tail wags uncontrollably. I know that it must be difficult to understand that these are the moments that I wait for each day. They are the highlight of my existence with you. The simplicity of such times is something that means so very much to me and I am so blessed to share them with you.
Please forgive me if I now seem somewhat hesitant to jump into your car when you take me for an outing. I am not young anymore and my back legs don’t work like they once did. It hurts when I put pressure on them so it takes me a little more time to get the courage to jump in. You may also notice that I need you to put the light on in the bedroom before I can jump up into the bed with you and Mom at the end of the day. If you look closely at my eyes, you will notice a white haze. I can no longer see as I once did and jumping up into the bed without the light on scares me. Although I wait all day to walk and then sleep with you, I fear the day that I will no longer be able to walk or jump. When that time comes, please be patient with me. Just being with you and Mom is all that matters.
You always appear surprised that I seem to know the exact time you will return home each day. You always find me sitting anxiously near the front door waiting for your return. But I must confess that I do not know how to tell time. The fact is, I simply sit and wait for you the entire day in anticipation of your return. The thought of you coming home consumes my thoughts. That is just how much I love you. That is just how much I care.
I need to tell you Dad that it will be okay to let me go when my time comes. When I lose all quality of life and begin experiencing pain where I may cry in my sleep, you will know. I know that it will be the hardest thing you have ever done, but you will know. I have often heard you tell your friends that you had no idea how you would exist without me. You must know that my feelings are the same. But in the meantime, let’s grow old together and cherish these precious moments in time. Let’s continue to walk, cuddle and hug. Let’s enjoy a life that only those who bond in such a way can fully understand. But I want to let you know that when we are separated from one another in this life, I will wait patiently for you beneath the graceful hills of Rainbow Bridge. And as I did when I sat near the door of our home each day anticipating your return, I will sit patiently by the edge of Rainbow Bridge’s shallow pond, knowing that you will one day appear. And as I did at home, when you cross the Bridge where I lay, I will run and jump into your arms knowing that we will never be separated again.
I love you Dad.