Girl’s best friend — dog-lover remembers special pet

For the first 14 years of my life, I considered my dog, Butler, to be like my brother. He was the only pet I had ever had, and I didn’t have any human siblings. So, since I was really young, it was only logical to refer to him as my brother. I had never lived without Butler — my parents got him before I was born — so the idea of living without him was always an unthinkable possibility.

However, once he hit the age of 13 (in human years), he started having a lot of health problems. We thought he was going to have to be put down for about two years before it actually happened. Occasionally, he would get so bad that we’d be scared he wasn’t going to get any better, but he always did. Then, in early 2015, he started to hurt more and more. He wasn’t getting better like he normally did, and we knew he wasn’t going to. I had always joked about wanting a younger dog that was cooler, but I never really wanted Butler to be gone.

My parents told me he was going to be put down Feb. 26 at 11 a.m., while I was at school. It was hard having to say goodbye to him before school. It was even harder to get the text from my mom saying he was gone. And the worst part was having to go back to my house and not see him lying there.

For a while, I wouldn’t tell people what was happening. I felt like people would judge me for being so emotional over just a dog. A lot of the time pet deaths are discounted quickly as, “Yes, we know it sucks now, but just get another pet, and it’ll be fine.” But it’s not that easy. Once you lose a pet, it changes your whole life. Pets are companions that you love forever, and to lose one is to lose a member of your family.

Since the one-year anniversary of losing Butler just passed, I started thinking a lot about how much the death of a pet can affect more people than just the owners. Butler wasn’t just my dog, and he didn’t just grow up with me. Friends of mine who came to my house a lot were also affected. Not in the same way, but the loss certainly hurt them too.

I have always been a dog person. Maybe if someone loses a pet they’ll be like me and maybe they won’t, but I personally needed another dog in my life as soon as possible. After grieving for a couple days, my mom and I started to go online and look to see where we could get a new dog.

For us, it was important to get a dog that was either a rescue dog from a shelter or a dog who was going to go to the shelter, so we started there. We needed a dog to help us, so we wanted to help the dog too. My mom eventually found a dog named Gracie, whom we met and adopted about three weeks after Butler died.

No pet will ever be a replacement for Butler, but having Gracie made things easier. Of course I still miss him a lot, but Gracie helped make the transition smoother. She’s a sweet puppy whom everyone in my family absolutely adores, and I know that in years to come I will make many happy memories with her just like I did with Butler.