Jules would be 15 today.
Jules, our Yorkie, died last November. It seems rather late in the game to talk about this now, but it took us about six months before we could look at photos and videos of him, and laugh. It's a bit hard even now.
People say this all the time about their pets, but Juli (pronounced "July") wasn't really a dog. He was, at the least, an old wise soul in dog form, and, I believe, a true kindred spirit.
I had never met such a particular little creature until I met him. For some time — years, really — he wasn't entirely sure about my presence. The counts against me were, in truth, rather high — I was female, I had a cat, I treaded on his territory without invitation (his master's preference notwithstanding).
And yet, after dating and marrying my husband, this dog — his best friend — grudgingly accepted me in the best way he knew how. He barked loudly whenever I came home, just in case I was an intruder, and if I ever punched D in the arm in jest, he let me know that was not acceptable, thank you very much.
As he aged, he spent more time on the couch with me, gnawing his bone or sleeping. We had a mutual respect at the least. D was still his person, though, and could do no wrong. Juli knew him better than anyone, and defended him to the last. Dedication like that is rare at best.
We had to put him to sleep, after a brain tumor caused him to fall ill, and the decline was much more rapid than either of us expected. The night before, he couldn't walk, and medicine did the opposite of helping. We were up all night with him, trying to make him comfortable, and eventually that meant holding him in a towel without moving too much. When morning finally came, we called and then took him in.
And then, we came home. The house, though still at maximum capacity with a small puppy and two cats, felt unbearably empty.
D posted this on Facebook later that day:
"I want to thank my best friend, my dog Juli (pronounced like the month), for 14 loyal years and for being the best little companion anyone could ever ask for. We had to put Juli to sleep this morning after a brain tumor caused him to fall ill earlier this week. It was a very rapid decline and he was ready to go before I was really ready, not that I could ever be. Anyway, some of you knew him, or at least knew of him, so I wanted to take a moment to honor his memory here.
Goodbye, Jules. You were with me from the moment I arrived here and I already feel strange and out of place here without you. I already know I'll never have another pet that will be able to share a bond as strong and unique as the one we had. I will always love and remember you buddy!"
It was a long winter. We didn't celebrate Christmas at home. Neither of us felt up to a tree, or decorations. Charlie, our cat, who Jules had befriended since kittenhood, was lost. He took to sleeping a lot, and eventually made friends with Augie, the puppy, in desperation. Augie never understood what happened. To this day, when he sees a Yorkie, he perks up, perhaps thinking Jules is home at last.
We didn't really talk about it with anyone, but it was shockingly hard, the loss. Reading Rainbow Bridge or watching Marley & Me were out of the question (note to anyone who goes through this: avoid!), and life was just... harder, somehow, in ways we didn't expect. Making dinner, coming home to no barking — it was the oddball things that were reminders of his absence.
A few months ago, we looked at some photos and videos of Jules that we took when Augie arrived. He was his usual snorting self, and just hilarious with the whole puppy thing in general. We laughed and then I think we were a bit sad again. It's not that we'll forget, or that we won't have a Yorkie again, but really, we just want Jules back, with his annoying habits and all.
So, Jules, happy 15 in spirit. I wish I could make you a carrot, apple and bacon salad and watch you go ape over it. Instead, we'll probably have a glass of beer, and remember when. We love you, buddy.