• author
    • Kaila Charice

      Columnist
    • February 23, 2015 in Columnists

    Every time you leave, you say goodbye

    When I was a kid, I went through a phase with my grandma where I never said “goodbye.” Instead, I’d say “see ya” or “talk to you later.” Danda (my grandma) even made fun of me one night and threw me off. As we were about to get off the phone she said, “See ya!” and we both started cracking up.

    I was afraid. I thought if I said goodbye to her then the chances of never seeing her again were greater. There’s no logic behind that fear, but at that age, to me, it was a thing.

    I was 7 years old when my parents got my sister and I a puppy — a chocolate brown dachshund. We named him Zev. Zev and I grew up together. I was the youngest sibling, and when we got Zev, he became the baby of the family.

    Zev loved everyone in my family, but he stayed in my room and I was at home the most during his puppy years, so we bonded a lot.

    Zev was strong. When he’d play tug-of-war with his rope toy, he’d drag you around the house! So tiny in comparison to a human’s size, but he was mighty.

    He was smart. When I would take him for walks when we were at the end of the trail I’d say “take us home, boy!” and he’d lead me back to the house with his tail wagging the entire time.

    He was very territorial. He had his own spot that he’d go to in each room and even on my bed. It was adorable. Sometimes I’d try to move him to cuddle and he would grumble until I let him go back to “his area.”

    Zev had the loudest bark of a dog that size. People would so often be surprised that he was a little wiener dog and not a larger breed.

    My family had him for essentially his entire life, and he was the center of ours.

    FullSizeRender copy 2Over this last year, I’ve traveled quite a bit, gradually “leaving the nest” as they say, and Zev became a huge concern of mine. Grey patches had begun to emerge on his beautiful red coat. I knew my parents took great care of him, but I also knew that he’d wait by my bedroom door when I wasn’t home and he’d perk his ears up and look around when he heard my voice on a speaker phone.

    I expressed my concerns about Zev to my mom, and how I was always a little afraid to leave him given his age, she told me, “every time you leave you say goodbye.” When she said that, she wasn’t talking about just the word. That evening, she called me in tears because our little Zev wasn’t breathing right. I happened to be 80 miles away at the time, and the news made my heart sink.

    She put me on the speaker phone and said when he heard my voice, his ears perked up and he looked around, just like normal.

    I raced home. I knew his time was limited; all I asked for was one last night with my little boy. He’s slept in my bed since I was 8 because I was scared one night and my mom told him to keep me safe. He’s done just that for over 17 years now.

    I made it home Sunday evening and held my little puppy in my arms all night. I left for work the next morning with positive thoughts because I knew he was happier.

    At 1:40 p.m. on Monday, February 16, my mom called me again. Zev had collapsed on the kitchen floor and my dad was with him. I cried so loud I scared myself. I was wailing on the highway shouting “NO!” over and over again alone in my car. It was terrible. I was still about 60 miles away and I knew it was going to happen, but I didn’t want him to leave without me by his side.

    I’ve never cried so hard in my life. I felt destroyed. This little puppy that I’ve had and grown up with side by side for the most of my life was about to leave me forever.

    Goodbyes are final.

    All I asked for in between my howls and screams of “NO!” was that I could be with him when his time came. I couldn’t stand the thought of him feeling abandoned. I felt bad enough that I wasn’t home as much as I used to be; I wanted him to know that I love him.

    I met my mom and sister at the animal emergency center. Zev’s snout was stuffed in an oxygen mask, and even on extremely powerful pain meds, he fought the nurses and got his snout out of the mask to nuzzle my hand.

    I was hysterical.

    IMG_1139Seeing my little boy on the table with an oxygen pump being his life source. This wasn’t my little Zev.

    My little dog, who jumped out of the cardboard box he was in and into my lap when he was four weeks old, passed away in my arms on Monday, February 16, 2015. He would have been 18 years old this October.

    I’ve been so fortunate to have him grow up with me.

    Logically, I know this is the unfortunate but inevitable part of life. Emotionally, I haven’t quite grasped that Zev won’t be crawling up beside me to wake me up in the morning or running to eat the food that falls off my plate, because he’s physically gone.

    Goodbyes are hard. There’s an emptiness in my heart that I’m not sure will ever be filled again. At times I can still hear the pitter patter of his nails against my mom’s wood floors, and I still look down when I open the door to where he used to be waiting for me.

    If there’s anything Zev’s passing has taught me, it’s to cherish every moment with the people you love. You never know when tomorrow will come, without them.


      • Katherine C.

      • February 23, 2015 at 11:45 am
      • Reply

      Beautifully said, those guys really fill a space in your heart


      • Maya North

      • February 23, 2015 at 12:00 pm
      • Reply

      I think you know of the losses I have had in my life, including most recently. There truly are no lesser beings, no lesser loss and it is no lesser grief. But oh, darling, you gave him the best life any doggy could have had and you were there when he passed. You were his angel, too. ♡♡♡♡♡



    • I think of all the pictures that you post, the ones with Zev were always my favorite. It was evident in your pictures how much the two of you absolutely adored one another. I am so sad for your loss. As Maya reminds us, no lesser beings. Beautifully written as ever. I’m glad I waited to come home to read as I now have to go get the mascara off my cheeks.


        • Maya North

        • February 23, 2015 at 10:41 pm
        • Reply

        Every time I even think of this column, I start crying, but it’s okay. It’s good to grieve along with people — we need to clean our hearts… <3





    • Nicely done. I really like your prose. Reminds me of losing my cat Ursula. It was the eighties and yet I still feel such regret.



    • Losing pets is the WORST. They occupy a special place in your heart.


        • Maya North

        • February 23, 2015 at 10:42 pm
        • Reply

        And don’t we just know it…



    • Great piece. I can definitely empathize with losing a beloved pet. When I moved from our country home and went off to college hundreds of miles away, my dog vanished. Did he go looking for me? Did he die of a broken heart? No one will ever know.



    • Nice.



    • i understand and this is beautiful writing. i am one who cannot handle losing a pet, i see the pain and love in their eyes and i just feel everything. whatever that everything is they feel goes straight to my heart and soul. such innocence. Maya and Kathy have expressed my thoughts as well. Peace be with you…xo


      • Jesse

      • February 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm
      • Reply

      Sorry about the loss of your fur baby.


      • David W

      • March 7, 2015 at 7:56 am
      • Reply

      Kaila, Thank you for sharing Zev with us. I feel as if I know your buddy, especially since I too am a dachshund fan.


      • Tom

      • March 24, 2015 at 7:17 pm
      • Reply

      The worst



    Leave a Comment