15 Years But Not Long Enough :: A Tribute to My Best Friend

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The Beginning of a Beautiful Relationship

I got my dog Troy when I was 19. My friend Serra and I drove from Auburn to Troy to pick him up. This was right after the movie 300 came out and I wanted a powerful Spartan name for my runt of the litter puppy. We passed a sign for the city of Troy and it stuck. He was so small that he fit in a shoe box. He proceeded to poop in said shoe box, which we promptly tossed in a gas station trash can and then just held him the whole way home.

I can’t say that I was the best pet owner at the time. I have a distinct memory of giving my puppy NyQuil in the middle of the night because I was so tired and did not realize what I had signed up for. The next morning, I felt intense guilt over what a terrible mother I was and took Troy for ice cream to make up for it.

Our Deep Bond

Troy and I were inseparable. It quickly became known that I didn’t go anywhere without him. We were a package deal. And boy did Troy get the college experience. We went to frat parties, tailgates, vacations, even Tutweiler dormitory in Tuscaloosa to visit my friend Amy. Troy slept in my bed every single night. I remember one night after leaving a bar, we were going to a friend’s house to hang out and I insisted we stop to pick up Troy first. I accidentally slammed his tail in the door —hello mom guilt again!— and it took a month for the crook in it to heal.

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Despite my shortcomings as a new dog mom, Troy and I had a bond like no other. He loved me deeply and I loved him. I think he knew how much I needed him. He was there for every break-up, make-up, and everything in between. He stayed at my side while I studied through nursing school. He was there when I had my tonsils out and could only breathe sleeping upright for a week (as an adult tonsillectomy patient, let me just tell you it’s not fun).

Protective Boy

Troy was the most phenomenal watch dog I have ever known. He had a 6th sense. I will never forget when he woke me up growling out the window in the middle of the night at a car that had just turned onto our street. Troy wasn’t one to bark at cars so I decided to watch this one. Sure enough, this joker stops on our street and proceeds to break-in to a neighbors car. I called the police and they caught the guy, all thanks to Troy.

He was there on my first date with my now husband. We took Troy to Chewacla State Park to swim, and he was thoroughly stinky and muddy by the end of the day. This firs-date-boy had a pristine new truck, but Troy and I both looked at him incredulously when he lowered the tailgate and motioned for Troy to get in. Oh no buddy, he rides up front like the dignitary he is. So, Troy sat between us dripping lake water and mud everywhere on the ride home. “Sorry about your truck,” I shrugged as we hopped out.

Troy had to test Matthew even more. Rainbow flip flops were all the rage when we were in college, and Troy loved to chew them—but only Matthew’s. It turned into a bit of a conspiracy. He’d eat the left one, so Matthew would buy a new pair. Then he’d choose the right one next time. This pattern went on through 8 pairs of Rainbows. “You should just start keeping the other shoe since he’s alternating which one he eats,” I suggested. We’re celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary next month, so I guess it turned out okay.

Always There

Troy was there when Matthew proposed at the lake. He was there on our wedding day. He was there when we moved across the country. We always drove the 12 hours home instead of flying so he could stay with us. He came on almost every vacation—mountains, beaches, lakes. It would have made much more sense for our first home to be an apartment, but that just wouldn’t do for Troy. So, we bought him a house with a yard and a pool. Troy loved swimming in that pool.

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I threw Troy some pretty phenomenal birthday parties. My favorite was the Hairy Pawter Pawty. No birthday was complete without a doggie birthday cake and a celebration for the greatest dog in the world.

Troy was there the day my mom was diagnosed with cancer. He was there when I lost my first baby, then my second, then my third. He was there when we came home from having surgery at the hospital after losing our fourth. I would bury my head in his fur and sob and he would calmly stay with me, never leaving my side.

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He was there when we brought our first baby home from the hospital. That took watchdog duty to the next level. He loved when the tiny human started eating and he could clean up all the messes. He was there when we brought home a second, then a third. By that time he didn’t really notice the growing family. He would just hobble around the yard chasing balls the kids threw for him.

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Saying Good-bye

Troy began to decline a couple of years ago. We tried different medications and he would always rally for a while. I told him to please let me know when it was time, because I just couldn’t make that decision. When I woke up on the morning of the last day of the school year, I looked at him laying next to his untouched 2 days worth of food and water, and I saw how tired he was.

Troy was ready to rest. He looked at me and I knew he was ready. I carried him inside and laid with him on his bed. I told him what a great boy he was, but his watch was up and we were going to be okay. Then, I told him it was okay for him to go and we would be fine. I swear I felt his frail body relax under me when I said that. Our kids told him goodbye and how much they loved him. My 6-year-old told me I looked so sad, and I told him I was. I told him it’s okay to be sad because I have loved Troy for a long time. A wonderful vet came to our home and provided Troy with compassionate end of life care. She said there was no doubt in her mind this was the right decision.

It is never easy to say goodbye to someone you love. I knew that I loved Troy too much to let him suffer. He was far too good of a boy for that. So, thank you, Troy, for the lessons you taught me. Thank you for loving us so fiercely. I will never forgot all of the times you jumped in the lake after us and pulled us to safety because you always thought we needed to be rescued. We’re hurting now, but we’re going to be okay. Run free sweet boy, I hope there are lots of tennis balls in heaven.

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Jenny is a Registered Nurse, Lactation Consultant, and Birth Doula. She and her husband Matthew met in college at Auburn and have been married for 10 years. They have 3 children: Harris-6, Charlie-3, and Emma Grace-11 months, and a geriatric chocolate lab named Troy. She has called Birmingham home since 2014, and loves raising a family here. She can be found all over Birmingham doing home visits with Central Alabama Lactation Services. In her spare time, she enjoys running, reading, wine nights, and making her children gift baskets for every occasion, both real and made up.

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