I've known my dad for a very long time (all my life, in fact), so I could tell when I listened to his voicemail that something wasn't right.
They had to put Brandi down last night. Brandi was my parents' Golden Retriever.
Honestly, I was expecting bad news about a relative. I know she was nine years old, but that's nothing. My sister called a little while ago (she didn't really even like Brandi, but she's a good enough sibling to know I loved the shit out of that dog) and said, "Well, she was old."
She had a tumor in her chest that was restricting her ability to breathe. It all came on suddenly; Dad said it was Sunday night when he realized something was wrong. I swear, when I was home just less than a month ago, that I felt something in her chest. But Dad thought it was just a fatty deposit. Guess not.
It seems like just yesterday that my dad was taking me on an unexpected trip to help him pick out a puppy. It was Thanksgiving weekend, I think. And I was living within 20 minutes of home at the time. I'd come over to help my mom put up the Christmas decorations. Getting to go visit some puppies seemed like a pretty great reward for doing that.
I can't remember how many litter mates she had, but there were a ton of puppies running around in this machine shed. It was one of the most awesome experiences of my life -- standing there with all these puppies surrounding me and jumping up on my legs.
But one puppy stood out from the rest. The family had a bunch of cats (barn cats, it seemed), and this particular puppy was beating up on those fucking cats. When my dad asked which puppy I thought was best, I said her. For whatever reason, my dad agreed. In about a month, she would be coming to the farm - to her forever home.
She came home the weekend before Christmas, I believe. For whatever reason, all of us kids were around. Brandi was out in her kennel in the garage, under a heat lamp (she was the first winter puppy my dad ever got). My five-year-old nephew didn't know there would be a puppy. I got to go out and get her and bring her to the house. It was pretty exciting.
I have so many great memories of playing with her and the silly things she's done. I loved the shit out of that dog. I love the shit out of a lot of dogs, truth be told. But I didn't pick any of them out of a passel of other puppies.
Going home for Christmas is going to suck so hard. As I told The Boy I Currently Like, sometimes I went home just because I missed Brandi. What the fuck am I going to do now? It's going to be hard. Shit. It's hard now. I'm a mess right now.
I miss her so much already. I was going to get her a new squeaky toy for Christmas.
I need more wine.