Breakfast Jones

I don't know why, but I feel the need to let this one out. The heartache, the pain, the shock, it's fresh. Breakfast Jones, my sweetest boy, my best friend, my copilot, my adventure buddy, my first dog of my very own... my life saver. Gone.

I knew his end was coming, and no matter how often people tried to ease my sadness with their optimism of how happy he was, how healthy he looked, how long of a life he still had left; I knew. I swear I knew it for a long time that it was coming. I even grieved it in front of him, knowing it wasn't going to get better. I held him many times and told him how hard that goodbye would be. I just didn't imagine it would ever happen this way. But dare I say, he left this world in the best way possible. No suffering, no nothing. He just ran for the ball and his world went black.

I swear he gave me a gift with his end, by relieving me of ever having to make the choice of when to end his life. The quality of that life was becoming so evident that it was challenging on him, and my heart. He just wasn't the same. I actually missed him even when he was sitting right there in front of me. He taught me a heck of a lesson about presence, and soaking up every beautiful moment while they last. I'm so glad we had 9 long years together. I swear, there are at least a million fields and trails in this city that we've spent countless hours in, chasing ball, sitting in the grass, gazing at the clouds or the stars. Thousands of walks, millions of steps, side by side. SO much playtime! We even had a neighbour thank us recently, for the entertainment and joy he provided, by being the ham that he was when I treated him to a ball too big for him to fit in his mouth. He truly was a bottle of unlimited happiness. It was contagious, and yet I know I provided it.

When his blindness started to take hold, two years ago, I was in a bit of a slow state of panic. I wanted to fix it, make it better, clear out those eye clouds with a tiny little vacuum just so he could see and do the things he did with SO much energy. Heavy handed, bull headed, absolutely a loose cannon when it came to playing at full tilt. It's almost comical he left this world doing what he has always done. I mean, I'm so glad he died happy. It's how he has always been.

I can't even describe the way he changed my life. I had no idea I could ever love a dog so much, but I chose him, as he chose me (at 8 weeks old) with a lick on the nose when I said "hi" to him for the first time. He was my one and only, my best friend, my sweetest four-legged love. I was reflecting on our time not too long ago, and how he has been with me since I lived in Calgary. SO long ago, and my goodness we have both grown up so much since then. He was there during a crucial time in my life. It was the year everything changed, as I left a 9 year relationship (the same age as Breakfast left this world) to be on my own, not knowing what the eff I was doing. I try not to dwell on what I would have done differently, knowing what I know now; but I wasn't afraid... because of him.

It's tough to be honest about just how much he saved me, too. I used to be incredibly anxious, and afraid of the world; so badly that I went months without ever leaving the house even for a minute. I was paralyzed by old trauma, which I hadn't faced at that time, and without knowing, he provided me a cure to a very hard and dark phase of depression; where I had once thought it wasn't going to get better. With him, there was no way of keeping myself contained. I had to get outside and be there for him, to show him the world. My fears of being seen, just suddenly faded away. Day by day, step by step, on every adventure, he introduced me to things I never dreamed of seeing. It's an endless scrapbook of memories that are just for the two of us. A special thing to treasure as I do my best to accept that this is where it ends.

The biggest gift he provided was the joy of summer. I grew up playing outdoors, so the nostalgia of the sights, the sounds, the colours, the smells; he showed me such a rainbow of beauty I'd almost forgotten about. He also got me out of my shell, he pushed me through my fears, he really got me out there; especially when it came to meeting new people. We'd walk in any direction, around any neighbourhood we could find, for hours on end, numerous times a day, getting lost on purpose. On my own, I don't think I would have had the courage to do so. That's something I can never thank him enough for. Life. Hell, I named him Breakfast because I'd made lists of gratitude, to ease myself out of my own darkness. Incredible what that name will always mean to me now. Something so sweet and simple. The best way to start the day, indeed.

I'll always be so grateful for the smiles he generated just by being himself, or the surprise that came when I'd tell people his name. That smile of his was so damn contagious... never mind those shit (funny) moments when he'd take the time to soak in mud puddles (or splash parks) to cool off from the heat. I don't want to forget how hard he'd run for it, to scoop his belly in the cool water, and breathe deep with that big dumb smile of his. My god, I'll miss it. So many silly memories, I'm glad to say, with confidence, that I know I gave him such a happy life. Of course, he did the same for me.

I noticed big changes in him, especially over the past couple of years. I knew that my time with him was becoming really limited when I saw how badly his blindness started to take his mind with it. He was disoriented, very nervous, VERY unaware of how much he actually needed to slow down. He's a bit like me in so many ways, in that regard. He didn't know how to stop, and no one was going to take away the things he always knew and loved throughout his lifetime. He had a bit of an "I got this" attitude, and so, I see the dangers there when it really is so necessary to STOP before someone gets hurt. It wasn't easy to slow down, for either of us, but I also knew it was necessary to stop more often and soak it up while it lasted.

And yet, this end is so horribly bizarre for the timing. My life itself is changing in a way that I knew was going to be hard on him. It was almost a little cornering in a sense where I knew that doing something for myself was going to have to put him in an ending position. There's no way he could come with me, with his level of stress and uncertainty. But how? How on earth do you make those choices? I paused, I froze, I just couldn't even imagine.  I think I was swept away by a new wave of depression, by trying my damn best to hang on for dear life. How do you say goodbye to someone you love so damn much? I think he could sense it in me that I was falling so hard to get that container back. To lock things up, and try to hide from life and death itself. Goodness knows that doesn't work, and he wasn't about to let me go back to that place again. He loved me hard. I felt it. He knew I was breaking inside.

It's a big part of why I brought a new boy into our posse. It wasn't an easy choice for me to make (for years) because Breakfast was just such a solo roller and I loved giving him my absolute attention. It wasn't the easiest transition, and I really did mourn the loss of 'just the two of us.' Still, I did it for my heart, knowing that when the time came, I wouldn't be alone. Honestly, without Birdie here right now, I doubt I'd be able to peel myself off the floor, or go outside. Actually, today was my first day taking him out to the market (in Breakfast's harness) to see what sort of universe we have gotten to experience through the years. It's like the torch was passed, like Breakfast died knowing I'm taken care of.

I plan on moving back to the west coast, as it has held onto my heart since the day we left it. Breakfast came with me the first time, and I will always remember that magical freedom of adventure as we looked at the ocean in front of us, driving through mountains, soaking our feet on the shores, hopping rocks and simply breathing in the gorgeous open space between the trees. Nature sure is a healer, and he took me through it all with such courage. We were unstoppable. Actually, one of our songs on that trip was 'Nothing's Gonna Stop us Now.' A happy song, with a funny sort of confidence neither of us knew how to handle. All we knew is that we were happy so long as we were together.

I can go on for ages about this profound experience, and how someone so small and special has come and gone; and the impact he left on my life. How much I've grown and changed because of him, and how damn grateful I'll always be for finding him. He really did save my life from a darkness I didn't know how to escape from. The mark he left on my heart and soul will remain forever. My god, the impact. I have been shaking my head a lot in absolute amazement. All of it. Start to finish.

And while I mourn, and smile, and cry and laugh at the memories we had,  it's the sweet stuff that hurts the most to accept as an end. I'll miss his comforting snores, the way he'd "falump" when he licked my nose, how he'd sleep against my back or let me spoon him at night. How he'd lick my fingers when I was in the bath, how he'd stomp when he wanted me to throw the damn ball; the huffing efforts it took for him to burrito in a blanket nest just right, how he'd "mmm" when I squeezed him or scratched his tummy, his hilariously timed toots, boobie scratches, ear rubs, that tiny nose of his. Ugh, Binky, my sweet wonderful little lump of love. I miss you so much already. I knew this day had to come, somehow. I just feel like you did your best, by sparing my heart from having to decide when it was your time, by taking it into your own hands.  You knew I was haunted by time, and it brought me to overwhelming tears so often, wanting to contain all of those sweet wrinkles and smells that made you the only Breakfast Jones there is. We took full advantage of what we could, of our time together, and I am glad to say I have no regrets, no guilt or wishes I'd done more somehow. I know I gave you something special, just as you provided to me, without debt, without effort. That's love, and that's the lesson. You showed me a beautiful return, with a beautiful end. I mean, despite the heartache of it all, it's the happiest end I could have asked for.

And so, when we shared our final moments, in the quiet room of the vet's office, his body lifeless and still, his eyes lost of shine, his beautiful paws crossed in a strange running stand still, in absolute silence, knowing I'd never see him again, I pressed my face into his cheek, grabbed those sweet folds of skin, I smelled him in,  and said "Thank you, I love you so much, my sweet boy. You saved my life, and I will never forget it."

Oh how I miss you already.

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