My dog died on Friday.
We got Mystic thirteen years ago as a tiny puppy with a black wiry overcoat. He loved playing soccer and splashing in his water bowl. As he reached adulthood he lost the black overcoat and turned into this blonde beauty with curly hair on his butt only. When we moved to Florida, he rode on my lap the whole way down, and when I left for college he hid under my mother's bed for days.
He was my best friend.
By the time my family joined me in South Dakota, Mystic had started getting cataracts. He was totally blind for the last two or three years of his life, and sometimes he walked into things. He had this amazing little bark that was almost like a huff under his breath, and we called him a grumpy old man. He'd been a grumpy old man almost since he was a puppy.
Mystic loved carrots more than anything else. The second he smelled a carrot, he'd be in the kitchen begging for pieces. He loved food in general, and tried every day to convince us that he hadn't had breakfast yet.
Once or twice he even got away with it.
Mystic loved sleeping, and napped for close to twenty hours a day. He had several blankets to choose from, but he'd nest in or on anything even remotely soft. He regularly slept on my knitting projects, on my mum's slippers, and even on my brother's backpack. If it was made of fabric, then it was a dog bed.
He was endlessly patient. He let me dress him up in my clothes and wrap him up in shawls and blankets. I'm certain that he wouldn't have chosen to get wrapped up like a babushka on his own, but he never protested when I tried it.
He loved being up on furniture, especially when he got to be in someone's lap or next to us. He loved cuddles and belly rubs, and he insisted on getting his belly scratched every morning before he'd deign to get out of bed, never mind that he'd been the one to wake me up and had been ready for breakfast for an hour already.
Two of his favorite words were "brekkers" and "bedtime."
Like many dogs, Mystic hated thunderstorms. Several years ago, after much trial and error, I finally discovered that his favorite music was Le Nozze di Figaro, and it was the only thing that could even remotely calm him during a thunderstorm. This video is the most played one on my youtube account.
He hated being apart from me. If I thought he was getting too bratty and wouldn't let him up on the sofa with me, he'd go up to my room and pull a blanket down from my bed to make a nest. Once, when I went away for the weekend, I came back and he laid down next to me, holding my hand between his front legs with all the might that his little fourteen-pound body could muster, insistent that I not leave him again.
Mystic taught me that I could love wholeheartedly and unconditionally. Even when he threw up in my bed, when he kept me up all night making nest after nest in the duvet, when he was at his most ornery, I loved him. I loved him so much that sometimes I didn't think I could hold it all.
He loved me, too.
I was with him at the end. He'd been sick for a few days, but I didn't think it was serious. Almost by accident, I had a cold on Friday and decided to stay home. Almost by accident, I decided to get Mystic from his kitchen quarantine and bring him to bed with me to snuggle. I'm so, so thankful that he wasn't alone.
Mystic was the best possible dog. He was even better than any of us could have asked for.
He was my best friend.
I miss him.