June 2013, at Howie's last family reunion in Lancaster. Jacob loved him so much.

June 2013, at Howie’s last family reunion in Lancaster. Jacob loved him so much.

It’s been 5 days, and I’m pleased to report that we can now write and talk about Howie without bursting into tears. But it sure was a tough 5 days…for Jacob, it was the worst first thing in the morning, when he usually kisses Howie good morning, and at bedtime, when saying “goodnight” to Howie was part of his very elaborate go-to-bed routine.

I felt like the bad guy by Monday; the boys had a day off from school, so they had an extra day to grieve, but by Monday night I had to ask the boys to do their best to get back into their normal routines. School, baseball, and music lessons weren’t going to stop.

Nonetheless, all week there have been tiny little hints of Howie’s absence. I feel it pretty profoundly when Dave is at work at the boys are at school. I’m not bursting into tears anymore, but I still think to myself, “Boy do I miss my good boy.” Here are several small examples of where I feel his absence:

  • Howie usually gave us a heads’ up when someone was approaching our front door. He didn’t go crazy, by his last few months it had turned into a subdued “woof woof woof” almost under his breath. This morning the sprinkler repairman arrived with no barking fanfare.
  • I miss the jingle of his dog collar while he’s eating and drinking, typically during our family’s dinnertime
  • When I go to bed (usually later than Dave does), I always left our bedroom door cracked because Howie would push the door open about 30 minutes after I went to bed and come to bed himself. I will still continue that habit for a very long time.
  • Dropping food on the floor. Howie is a pretty picky eater, but I knew I didn’t have to worry if I dropped cheese or snack foods like chips or popcorn. On Monday night I made chicken parmesan and dropped quite a bit of shredded mozzarella cheese on the floor. I actually had to bend down and clean it up.
  • Now that we’ve cleaned up his dog beds, feeding supplies, and collars and leashes, there are parts of the house that seem so empty.
  • As annoying as it was, we all miss Howie’s incessant pawing at our back door to go out. Or his pawing at the back door to come in.

This week I’ve had to make a few administrative phone calls, such as canceling his kennel appointments in June and July. I am about to cancel his pet insurance this week as well.

It’s sinking in with us that he’s now at the Rainbow Bridge. We are still healing slowly, but I’m proud of all my boys on how well they’ve adjusted back to regular life. In the next couple days I will be trying to accumulate all — and I mean ALL — of the pictures we’ve taken of him, into one new album.