In the days following the passing of our sweet little dog Abby, I did a lot of reflecting on the purpose of her life. She came into our home at six months old and was with us for 14 years. Her greatest joy was chasing squirrels and she even managed to catch a few mice that had the misfortune of entering our backyard.
We had a forest full of walking trails right behind our home, so she was often given the privilege of walking off leash. She loved to meander along at her own pace and sniff everything. The problem though was the moment she caught sight of a squirrel she was off and running. We chased her in those woods many times, sometimes for a few stressful hours. She was hard to spot due to her dark brindle colour, which enabled her to hide in the shadows beneath the trees. As a Cairn Terrier, this activity delighted her, so against our better judgement, especially in those early years, we would continue to let her off leash during her walks through the forest. We eventually attached a bell and a light to her collar so we could keep close tabs on her, but over the years, as she got older and arthritis crippled her joints, the squirrel chasing dashes became shorter and shorter until she just didn’t bother anymore.
Abby was there for our family through junior and senior high, hockey games, graduations, long work hours, postings, and deployments and yet throughout all the upheaval in our world, the one constant was her devotion to our family and the unwavering love she expressed to each one of us. When we looked into Abby’s eyes, it truly was like looking into the soul of an angel. No matter how tough our days were or how long we were gone, Abby was always there to greet us when we arrived back home. She was the cuddle buddy everyone didn’t know they needed. If she ever had to wait a bit to get fed or taken for a walk, there was never a complaint, just more love. She taught us patience, to slow down and smell the roses, and enjoy each moment.
As I contemplated the meaning of her life, I envisioned Abby appearing young and limber again, skipping through colourful wildflowers with butterflies dancing above her head. In that moment, a thought came to my mind; maybe a dog’s true purpose is to provide us with a reminder of where we come from, that “all loving” place that we call home. That place we go back to between our lives. How else is it possible for dogs to come here, join our families with all the chaos and challenges, and still manage to provide unconditional love and loyalty?
I will forever be grateful for the warmth and affection Abby provided our family during the short period she joined us on our journey. She came to show us the true essence of what unconditional love really means. She showed us what we have to look forward to, when we too go back home.