I’m mostly writing this for myself, to remember and reflect on the wonderful soul that was Bandit.  I invite you to read his story and then go hug your pets, hug your family.  Time is a treasure we cannot afford to waste.

I met Bandit when I was 15 years old, the summer of 2000, in Redding, California.  He was born March 18th, I think I met him sometime in June so he was full of energy and life, and all that is puppy.  Being that he didn’t have typical markings for the breed he hadn’t sold yet.  I was fascinated with his glossy white and black coat, bright brown eyes, and his little pink snout.

I fell in love rather quickly.  He was happy and sweet with a soft and gentle spirit.  He wasn’t allowed inside the house so I spent many nights that summer sleeping outside on the trampoline so we could be together.  I remember he would be in my sleeping bag or pressed against the side of my face and together we’d watch the moon set over the mountains and the sun rise the next morning.

After much begging my parents relented and said I could bring him home at the end of the summer.  I bought him an airline approved kennel and in August we flew home to Seattle.  Bandit went from a life on 700 acres to a suburban size backyard, as he would prove over and over again during his life time he was adaptable, settling into life in the city seamlessly.  

He stood by my side through high school, my first car, my first boyfriend, broken hearts, my first job, college, living in 4 states, and co-piloting several thousand miles of driving across the United States.  He saw me through the last years of my childhood and into adulthood.  I met him because of my love for horses in California and he followed me on my journey which eventually landed us in Colorado, once again because of my love for horses.  

I think he loved horses as much as I did.  He never chased or barked at them, he just wanted to see them, to smell them.  He would trot the fence line endlessly, back and forth, just so he could watch the herd.  He loved nothing more than following me along on a trail ride, just behind the horse, never straying.

I never saw Bandit in a bad mood, he was sweet to everyone he met.  If you wanted to pet and snuggle him he was in heaven.  He loved fetch, and maybe even more than that loved running around next to Spartagus while he caught and retrieved the ball.  He loved coming with me on bike rides and he loved coming out to the small local bars with me, standing on his hind legs with impeccable balance to watch the table as my friends and I played pool.  He always just wanted to be with me, to be close.  

He aged so well and for a while I thought he’d live forever.  He just seemed to tick off the years 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, without ever getting old.  At 15 he finally started to slow down and by this winter I knew that he didn’t have forever anymore.  Recently I had to transition him to being an outside dog as he couldn’t manage all of his bodily functions.  I would sleep with the window open so I could hear him if he needed me during the nights.

I lamented over when it would be his time, I prayed he would go when he was ready.  I’ve never made the call to euthanize an animal before and I wanted him to spare me that.  I just hoped that he’d peacefully slip away during his sleep.  I felt bad he couldn’t be inside, I felt bad he started to not be able to see and hear.  Eventually he couldn’t be off leash because he’d wander away.  Several nights I drove around with a flashlight trying to find him because he moseyed away if I wasn’t watching closely.  I got him diapers, I got him a bell for his collar, I tried everything to keep him happy and comfortable and safe.

All I wanted was some kind of clarity about what to do for him, I wanted to do right by him whatever that meant.  I woke up to him crying several times his last night with me.  The last time I got up to help him get comfortable again I just knew it was his time.  It was like a light switch, I knew that he wasn’t comfortable and happy anymore.  His good moments were sorely outweighed by the bad.

Dr. Polly is the sweetest, most wonderful person you could ever hope to have treat your animals.  When she arrived she gently gave Bandit an exam, when she was done she told me what I had hoped to hear.  She said that he lived a full life, was well taken care of, and now it was the perfect time to let him go.  There was no fixing his failing health and he could no longer stand up on his own anymore.  It wasn’t too early and it wasn’t too late, he didn’t suffer but would if we didn’t help him to pass on.

With the sun shining and the birds singing we sat with Bandit in the tall green grass under the shade of a big tree in our yard.  As I talked to him he opened his eyes and wagged his tail one last time.  He hadn’t wagged his tail in days, it was like he was telling me he was okay and it was okay and that I would be okay.  

He went peacefully, taking with him a part of my heart that I will never get back and nor would I want to.  He was a piece of me, of my life.  He lived all of my best memories with me and I will always cherish that.

You’re never ready to say goodbye.  It doesn’t seem real that he’s gone forever.  I still think I hear him outside at night sometimes, then realize it’s the neighbor dogs.  I look for him when I open my front door, expecting to see him sitting under the tree across from my drive.  For exactly half of my life he has been by my side… I miss him.  I just hope he is peaceful and free now, wherever he is.  

March 18, 2000 - May 14, 2016