An Open Letter to My Dogs: Thank You for Being There

As a friend's dog passed on, I reflected on my own dogs -- here's what I want to tell them.


Dear dogs,

Today, we said goodbye to our friend, Lewi. Like most of your kind, Lewi was a good old soul. He possessed a wide smile, a happy tail, and a sweet spirit. He was a fighter and worked hard to stay with us, but after 15 years, his body finally gave out.

And so his mom made the decision. The decision that, sooner or later, all of us who give our hearts to a dog will have to make. I stood nearby as she stroked his soft fur, spoke gently to him and gave him the last, most unselfish gift she had to give. As Lewi left this world, I know nothing was left unsaid or unfinished. He understood how completely he was loved.

When I got home, I sat on the floor, hugged you both close and cried into your necks. You leaned into me and kissed away my tears. Over and over, I told you how much I love you both, how precious you are to me.

Dear dogs, I wish you could know –- really know -– how grateful I am for you, how much you have changed me, how I’m a better person because of you. But if I had the opportunity to tell you in words you could understand, where would I start? What would I say?

I’d say …

Thank you for laughter.

Because of you, dear dogs, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t laugh. Even in the darkest times, the bleakest moments, you have managed to put a smile on my face. Whether chasing a squirrel or dancing at dinner, you find the fun in every little thing and encourage me to do the same.

Thank you for perspective.

It’s true, dogs, that sometimes I take myself too seriously. I think too much about work and spend too much time glued to the computer. But you are a constant reminder about what’s truly important. With a gentle paw on my leg, you convince me to walk outside, feel the sun, and maybe stretch out with you on the grass. Enjoy this moment, you seem to say, because this moment is all we have and the only one that ever really matters.

Thank you for connection.

As an introvert, I find it comforting and comfortable to be alone, to shut myself away, to avoid idle chitchat. But you, dear dogs, have made that impossible. Walking with you is like walking with rock stars. Strangers want to stop and talk, ask about you, fuss over you. Through you and the blog I write about you, I have had the chance to meet people from all over the world. Even more than that, you have shown me that making friends is far easier than I imagined. Apparently, all you have to do is smile and wag.

Thank you for being such wise teachers.

I have been lucky to have some great teachers in my life. But you, dogs, are among the best. You have taught me the meaning of faith and trust, patience and hope. Because of you, I set out on a whole new life path, and along the way, learned that I’m capable of more than I ever thought possible.

Thank you for being there.

In the last few years, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. Hellos and goodbyes. Life and death. Triumphs, failures, and uncertainties. But what never waivered was you, dear dogs. Regardless of what was happening around me, there you were in the center, my furry little touchstones. Giving me something tangible to hold onto. Keeping me grounded, whole and balanced.

Thank you for just being.

It seems impossible that by not doing anything, you still manage to do so much. Your happy attitude in the morning –- this is the best day of my life! –– sets the tone for the rest of my day. Sitting near you in the same room while I work helps me focus. Even the moments you’re snoring quietly (or not so quietly) on the couch fill me with peace and make me calmer. Just the fact that you exist somehow makes life better.

Dear dogs, I always say that you will both live forever. That I will never have to give you the gift Lewi’s mom gave him today. I know, of course, that’s not true. That no matter how much I wish it or will it, that day will come, and when it does, a piece of my heart will leave with you. But I also know that even then, even at the moment it breaks, my heart will be bigger because you were a part of it.

My dear, dear dogs.

Your turn: If you could tell your dogs anything, what would you say? Tell us in the comments!

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About the Author: Amber Carlton is a freelance pet industry marketing copywriter and content specialist for hire who also acts as interpreter and typist for her dog’s musings at Mayzie’s Dog Blog. She shares life with her husband, two dogs and two cats (all rescues except for the husband). Connect with Amber at her business website, Comma Hound, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

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