For My Dougal
April 1990 - June 22, 2000

Whether you were Doogie, Doogster, Mr. Doogs, or even The Dougalmeister, you were always, in the end, Mommy's Lover Boy. It's been four days since I said good-bye to you, and I still can't believe you're not here. I miss your smiling face as I come up the stairs, and the lifted paw that, over the past few months, moved less and less far from the floor. I can't sit on the sofa without wondering when you're going to lean your nose against the edge of the cushion, looking at me with that doleful "please pet me" look that I could never resist. I stand in the kitchen and turn suddenly to look behind me, expecting to see your eager upturned face, waiting hopefully for something to fall to the floor. I wake in the night, and can't understand at first why I don't have to step over you to go fill the baby's bottle. And the mornings - oh, maybe those are the worst, I miss your famous Doogie Dance so much.

I'm sorriest that Hannah will never get to know you, her first and bestest protector. I was so worried how all of you would react to her arrival, and yet you, who lost your place in my bed as well as your number one place in my heart to her, accepted her the fastest and easiest of the three of you. You just automatically extended your responsibility as your mom's champion and protector to this new, small creature that appeared so suddenly, welcoming her and greeting her with those all-too-rare kisses of yours. As sick as you were last Thursday afternoon, when Hannah started crying in her stroller, you still lifted your beautiful but weak head to nose her and make sure she was alright. So my favorite pictures of you, and the long silky lock of your hair I found in the backyard, will go into her life book, for her to learn about the friend she won't remember.

You taught me what might be the most important lessons in my life, Doogie. You opened my heart, and taught me what unconditional love was all about. You were the first and most senior member of what grew to be a little family, with you always in your role as "the man of the house". You made Clancy feel safe and at home when I brought him home from his surgery, patiently waiting through his defensive period until he became your best buddy. When Annie didn't know how to go up and down the stairs, it was you who showed her. And you helped me come to understand myself in such a way that I could take the ultimate step of entering motherhood.

And then you left us, Doogie, and left me with a huge hole in my life and my heart. I miss you more than I can express, and it hurts so much. I'm so sorry, sweetie, that I let my selfishness over not wanting to lose you make things get to the point where you got so sick. I never, ever wanted you to suffer so much, and I know it was even worse for you because you thought you'd been bad when I knew you couldn't help it.

I keep remembering the way you suddenly pulled your head free from my hands and gazed up and beyond all of us, before laying it back against my face as you slipped into your last sleep. I hope with all my heart that in those final seconds you saw the wonderful place you were heading, where you could run with no pain, swim to your heart's content and eat as many and as many kinds of goodies as your tummy can hold.

I'll hold you in my heart forever.

With all of our love until we're together again,
Mom, Hannah, Clancy and Annie

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