Student pauses for the paws in heaven

Cardinal Keepsake winner's story

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Student pauses for the paws in heaven

The Stewart family ornaments honoring their dogs.

The Stewart family ornaments honoring their dogs.

Macy Stewart

The Stewart family ornaments honoring their dogs.

Macy Stewart

Macy Stewart

The Stewart family ornaments honoring their dogs.

Macy Stewart

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The year 2017 started off with a bang with me staying in bed with my loveable, furry friends and drinking an unhealthy amount of hot chocolate. My family was never one for traditions, but since we have moved to Melissa in 2014, we have made sure to spend New Year’s Eve in my parent’s room with them, my brother and I with our three massive dogs and just recap on the past twelve months. Little did we know, by the end of the year, there wouldn’t be nearly as many of us as before.

On April 30, 2017, our second oldest dog, Bogart, became gravely ill and we knew it was his time to go to doggy heaven. But we made the selfish decision to wait until the next day to put him down as that exact same day just so happened to be my brothers fifteenth birthday. We felt a tremendous amount of guilt for making him suffer for an extra day, but my brother wanted to spend his birthday by Bogart’s side and give him love through this hard time. I slept on the ground next to him all night to ensure that he knew he wasn’t alone during his suffering and to this day I am so happy that I made that decision.

The next morning was when I and my family decided that Bogart needed his suffering to end and soon. So my parents and I drove him to the nearest emergency vet and mentally prepared ourselves to put down our sweet boy. We had only had Bogart for five years, but it felt as if he had been there since we were the age of three. He was only eight years old at the time, but the doctors were afraid that if they put him under to see what the cause of this sickness was, it would have more than likely killed him.

Macy Stewart
Macy’s dog Bogart rests his head on the bed.

I’ll save you the details of the process of putting him down, but just know that he went down without a fight and that we showered him with affection during his last few moments so he knew he was truly loved by his family.

Everyone thought that after losing our beloved Bogart that would be the end of our heartbreak for the year, but sadly that was only the beginning. Fast forward seven months and everything starts going downhill once again. Basil, our oldest one and the one we have had for nine years, suddenly becomes extremely ill as well. Now keep in mind that she is roughly thirteen or fourteen years old at the time and for her breed, it’s not normal for them to live this long.

Macy Stewart
Basil rests his chin on his leg.

On the Thursday before her passing, we took her as a family to the vet to see if there was any possibility of saving her life. The doctor tells us that there’s a medication that can potentially help her, but it’s not guaranteed. At this point, she had already been suffering for several days and we were desperate for anything that could heal her, so we took the medication and gave it a few days to kick in. That upcoming weekend I was playing in a tournament in Frisco, and I was hesitant to leave her side although my parents assured me she would be okay.

Sunday morning was when the realization hit us that she wasn’t going to make it through the weekend. On November 19, 2017, Basil passed away on her own terms in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by the whole family. One by one we said our goodbyes to her and gave her love while we watched the life slowly leave us. But we couldn’t let this loss interfere with our lives and no matter how heartbroken I was, I made a commitment to my team and went to go play in Basil’s honor.

Now you’re probably thinking ‘Didn’t she say she has three dogs? What happened to the other one?

His name is Frito, yes like the chip, my dad was the one who named him. I can tell you that luckily we still have him and he is doing wonderfully, but he took the loss of Basil deep to heart and we could tell by his behavior that he became depressed for a couple of months. He was not only our last baby but the youngest of them all, and after her passing Frito took a great liking to my mom and they have been inseparable for the past year.

Going forward to Christmas of 2017, it was our first Christmas in eight years without more than two dogs in the house. It didn’t feel right celebrating such a joyful holiday without Basil and Bogart there to enjoy it with us. My family and I followed our normal routine of taking pictures, opening gifts, and showing everyone what we received. It was when we started undoing our stockings that I got the best present I could have ever asked for. At the bottom of my stocking, there were two ornaments and at first glance they looked like hearts, but when taking a closer look at them, I noticed they were more than that. My mom had gotten one engraved with Bogart’s name and the other with Basil’s, enter the waterworks. Instantly I burst into tears over the gifts and can’t help but hold them close to my heart in an attempt to feel them through the ornaments even though I know it’s impossible since they are gone.

They hold such a special place in my heart and this year when putting up our Christmas tree, I put them front and center so whenever you look at everything they’re the first two that you see. A year after losing both of them it hasn’t been the easiest, but as time goes by I realize that I am one year closer to being able to see them again.