This is one of the hardest posts I have ever written. For eleven years I have had only one wish. Every single shooting star, every single blowing out of candles, every single “star light, star bright” and every time I caught the clock on 11:11 – I only had one wish. I never told that wish to a single person, not once in all these years. My wish was an on going one. And it did come true. My wish was always “I wish that Diesel has a long, happy, healthy life.” And he did.
But now my heart has broken into a million pieces as I had to say goodbye to my very best friend today.
I was 19 when Diesel came into my life. It was just after my freshman year of university. I remember my mom firmly telling me “no” over and over again when I told her I was going to get a puppy. And so I did not tell her where I was going that night on the 3rd of July. She was so angry when I came home with this snuggly brown ball of fur with a white tipped tail. He was my first dog that was mine and not the family’s dog. I knew the anger would not last long when I caught her cuddling with him when she thought I was in a different room. The very next day we started our adventures together and we went to the Geyer’s for a Fourth of July celebration. Diesel sat quietly in my lap and just watched the fireworks. He was such a good puppy. He was so smart, he never barked and he never chewed up anything. Potty training went quick. Alice would sneak up quietly when she worked night shifts and would pick him up from my bed and carry him out to go potty in the middle of the night. But it was not long before he could no longer easily be carried. He grew so big, so fast. I worked at the vet clinic that summer and he would come with me to work every day, we were rarely ever apart. Everyone who met him quickly fell in love with his soft brown eyes.
It was not long before summer came to an end and Diesel came back with me to West Virginia to my first ever apartment. On his first birthday party we held a celebration for him, and all his doggy friends came over. This became a tradition and Diesel’s birthday parties became ever grander with each year! We would hike the Appalachian Mountains together and go on camping excursions. He befriended my housemates and fell in love with the neighbours’ husky, Meeka. Soon my time at university came to and end and Diesel and I moved to Pittsburgh.
Growing up and those early years of adulthood were tough at times for me. I learned who I am, and I started becoming the woman I am today. And Diesel was always there. He was there for the tough days at university and starting out in the “real” world, he was there for the fun parties, there through the relationships and break-ups, the many moves and new houses. He was always there for me, no matter what. He was my rock. He was my absolute best friend.
Diesel was the most gentle of giants. During my time as a zookeeper, I had to bring various animals home for extended care. Diesel was always “mom” to each and every one of them. He cuddled with baby goats and monkeys and became a patient jungle gym for a very hyper-active binturong. Diesel even adopted a cat. When I brought home this tiny little ginger and white kitten, it ran straight up to Diesel and immediately started to cuddle and try to nurse on Diesel’s fur. Optimus Prime and Diesel became such good friends. There was hardly ever a time when they would sleep apart from each other and Diesel was always so gentle when he wrestled with OP, even if the cat used his claws.
Making the decision to follow my lifelong dream and move to Africa to work in conservation was bittersweet. I was heading to a place where Diesel could not join me. I looked into the process and really made solid plans to bring him with me, but then I had to pause a second and really think deep about it. At seven years old, he was already quite an old boy, especially for such a big dog. A 32-hour plane ride in the cargo section would have been extremely stressful on him. Since moving to Namibia, I have already moved around more times that I can even count and have lived in two other countries since then. It would not have been fair on Diesel who is such a settled dog by nature. A year after I left, he needed specialised surgery and months of rehab which he would not have been able to get if he had come with me. While leaving him was extremely hard on me, I knew it was the right decision for him. And he forgave me for it. Every single time I went back to America he was always so happy to see me, and we instantly picked up as if we were never even apart. My sister and her family adopted Diesel when I left, and I am more grateful to them than they will ever know. They gave him the most incredible and loving home in his senior years. They gave him the best veterinary and medical care as he aged and helped him through the rehab after his surgery. He became “Do-Do” to my little nephew, Atlas, and a companion to my older nephew, Christopher. He moved from Virginia Beach to Frederick, Maryland with them. And he even put up with Cable the Great Dane using him as a chair and play toy.
I received the difficult call from Erin near the end of last year. Diesel had developed cancer and while he was currently doing well, there was no idea as to how much longer he had. I made a plan and flew halfway across the world just to be able to spend two last weeks with my boy. We spent a special evening at the park and went on a walk through to woods at my parents’ place, but most of the days were relaxing on the couch as he got quite tired and sore much more easily. But I will always cherish those days. Every time I had to fly back to Africa, saying goodbye to Diesel was always the hardest part of the trip. But at the end of this last trip, we had to make our hardest goodbye yet, for I knew it would be the very last one.
Diesel managed to make it to 11. He was incredibly happy and was mostly very healthy until the end of his long life. So, all in all, my wish came true.
Thank you, Diesel, for being the absolute bestest boy and for your most amazing companionship. They say throughout your lifetime you will love all of your pets, but you will have that one, once-in-a-lifetime dog. He was my first dog and starting my adult life growing up with Diesel helped to define who I am. He taught me about unconditional love and was the greatest friend I could have ever asked for.
I am glad you are no longer in pain, but I hate to think of a world without you in it. My heart does not know how it is going to ever completely heal from this. And I do love my boy, Ryno to the moon and back, he is also such a great boy. But there will always be a very special piece of my heart which will be forever missing. I always called you my soul-puppy, and you were, and always will be, exactly that.
Goodbye, my Diesel Weasel.