When you get a new puppy your heart is overflowing with all kinds of emotions, usually happiness, joy, and excitement, to name a few. As the time wears on you start going through different emotions with your dog: love, compassion, frustration, fear, helplessness, sadness, and many more. With all of these emotions you also begin developing a bond with your new puppy. This bond depends on many things, sometimes it’s instant, sometimes you have to work on it. This is something unique to every dog and every person. However, every now and then the universe will line up perfectly, where the perfect puppy will find his perfect person. There’s an unspoken bond that is tangible to the world around them. This bond is indescribable, but it’s something you know when you see it and feel it. People often call this your “Heart Dog.” You never know when you’re going to find this special dog. This is what happened when I met Aidan. This was the dog I didn’t know that I desperately needed. The moment I put my hands on Aidan for the first time, my world immediately became so much brighter.
I was still in college when I met Aidan, and my sister was fostering him (see his profile for his background story) so I would call almost every day to get a “pupdate” on the little guy. I only had about a month left of school before graduation, but Jennie still drove him out a couple times for visits. I could never get this little guy out of my head. My final project in my sociology class was on stereotypes, and I used Pit Bull-like dogs as my example. When I moved back home after I graduated from college, this pup had me wrapped around his dew claw. I had always had a personal rule against having dogs in my bed, but somehow as a 16 week old puppy Aidan managed to end up sleeping with me almost every night. As he was growing up, I decided that I wasn’t going to let Aidan’s puppyhood abuse define him. Although he was a handful, and difficult to manage at times I took him to obedience and agility classes throughout his life. He became my demo dog when I started teaching classes, and he was pretty awesome at it. We fought against Breed Specific Laws/Legislation (BSL) in our area a few times, and won! He was a great ambassador for dogs who look like him. He also earned a number of AKC performance titles. He opened my world up to so many experiences and people. He was also the best travel buddy ever. We had so many adventures together!
Often, the initial excitement of getting a new puppy overshadows the reality of owning a dog. This reality is that our lives are much longer than our dogs’ lives. We know at some point we’re going to have to say goodbye to them, which is typically not on our terms. The sudden death of a pet can cripple people for days, months, and even years. This reality was not lost on me. For some reason I had a feeling that Aidan’s life would be much shorter than most. This is either because Aidan was a great teacher, or I was a great student. You see, I believe there is something to be learned from every dog that comes into our lives. If you’re paying attention you will find these lessons. Aidan taught me many things, lessons you don’t think can be taught by a dog. He taught me unconditional love, trust, forgiveness, perseverance, and putting everything you have into everything you do. He helped me be me. He helped me become truly alive and I drew strength from him.
The most important thing Aidan was to me was my unwavering rock. He kept me going when I didn’t want to. He was right by my side through thick and thin. When Aidan came into my life, it was just prior to me making the biggest mistake I’ve ever made and he stuck it out with me. Aidan left me when he knew I would be able to make it on my own. When he knew I would be okay, when he knew the demons in my head, and in my life, had gone away. Aidan’s death, while sudden was very difficult in that moment, but it has been easier on me than I ever thought it would have been. I still miss my best boy, and I always will. He took a piece of my heart with him when he died. As time as worn on though, I find that most of my tears for Aidan are happy tears. I’m happy that I got to experience such an amazing dog. I’m happy that he opened up my world. I’m happy that he has allowed me to help other dogs like him. He really was the best thing to ever happen to me.
I love to talk about Aidan. I love hearing and sharing stories about him. I keep him alive by sharing my memories of him. If I happen to cry while talking about Aidan, they’re probably happy tears. I thought Aidan’s final lesson was teaching me selflessness, but it turns out he’s teaching me a healthier way to grieve.
Rough Seas of Aidan BN RA CGC – 09/09/2007-10/03/2015