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My Annie is Gone.

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On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, I spent the last day of Annie’s life laughing at her antics, giving her loves as usual, and then the nightmare started. She’d finally made friends with the cat that showed up and refused to go back wherever it came from, she’d learned about boundaries and how home was where she’d wanted to be, and then she died.

But let me start at the beginning. Annie was adopted while we were in England from a group called Balkan Underdogs in 2015. She’d lived on the streets in a far away place, been abused, then taken to a kill station. She was sterilized without anesthesia, and prepared for death. She was saved by BU and put up for adoption. Eventually she made her way to us and she became our world.

Annie came to us at a point where I was suffering badly with the seizures I experience. She didn’t run, growl, or act afraid. This dog that had no idea who I truly was, that seemed to not even realize she was a dog, laid down beside of me and stayed put until I was able to get up again. From that point on Annie was my girl.

When we made our way to Portugal Annie stayed with her first foster mum until we could afford to bring her over. That was when the real fun began. She loved to run, Annie loved her mummeh but running was the best thing in the world. She could run for ages outside in the field, just sniffing, running, and taking the occasional dip in the frog pond. She’d come back in exhausted but oh so happy and grinning her doggy grin. Life was good.

Annie made friends with other dogs, other people, and learned that life wasn’t always about a painful booted foot, or harsh words, and abuse. She learned about trust and love as she grew into a real dog, one that actually barked. It took us a stupidly long time to realize that Annie never barked, except in the nightmares she had. By her final day she’d learned to bark, she’d learned protectiveness, and a fierce loyalty.

Most of all she’d learned that when she felt bad, or just wanted a cuddle, Mummeh stopped whatever she was doing and gave Annie what she needed. Her final day was no different. We thought, at first, that Annie had heat stroke but as her left eye went wonky and her back legs started to tremble we knew it was something more. Then the horrible gagging and vomiting started.

Annie was rushed to the nearest vet, no more than ten minutes away, and the vet confirmed my suspicions, she’d been poisoned. Likely by weed killer. He thought he’d saved her, he thought he’d got the poison out of her, but as we discussed taking her to the animal hospital for further treatment something strange happened.

In the midst of these voices ringing around that tiny room everything went silent for me. Something stopped, something inside of me was GONE!! I looked down and I knew what had left me.

“Annie?” I asked gently, shaking her right shoulder a little. “Annie wake up! Annie WAKE UP!” Then I was pushed out of the room as the others realized what had happened. I went outside, trembling, unable to stop the grasping of my hands for Annie, trying not to be sick myself. I was covered in her urine, her vomit, her sweat, but I didn’t care. I just wanted my dog but I knew she was gone.

My little girl just hadn’t been strong enough to fight off whatever poison she’d been fed. My precious puppy, the joy of my life, the companion that I’d come to count on when I had a seizure, the being that could look at me and tell me how much she loved me with her eyes was gone. When our friend came out to tell me I lost all sense of dignity and sobbed my pain. I lost my breath it hurt so bad, I could only make these terrible gasping, deathly sounds because it all just hurt so bad.

Six days later it still hurts, it hurts badly. We’ve left the place we were living and gone back to the place with the frog pond. That place is where Annie was poisoned, that’s the place where someone took her life. She lived here, she learned to love here, and she learned what being a dog was here. This is where we should be.

Annie was more than just a pet, she was our baby. We took this tragic life, this sad tale, and gave her a happy ending. Almost. Everyone has said that we gave Annie more than a year of love, that’s more than she’d have had in her homeland. I wanted to give her so much more but now we have to find another purpose because our purpose was taken from us. Yes, in the end, Annie was only a dog, but she was our dog.

She taught us that it is possible to come from a life of neglect, abuse, and ultimate horror, and live a normal life. She taught us that love can make all the difference in the world. Most of all, she taught us that the most important things in life are getting to live without bonds, having someone to love, and giving each other the room to grow. Annie gave as good as she got and no, she wasn’t just a dog, I have to take that back. Annie was love embodied and she’ll forever be missed.

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