June 17, 2012
After he came to me in 1996, I began calculating the years. He was a big dog, so I’d be really lucky if I got 15 years. I spent way too much time dreading the day I would lose him. I remember consoling myself with the thought that when he died, he would’ve done his job by then. I would be okay, able to survive another few decades without him.
I never said it out loud, but I knew that Bunker had come to help me heal. He was a therapy dog before there were therapy dogs. He brought me a level of calm I’d never known. Without him, my depression would’ve probably ruined me. He picked up my broken, battered spirit and carried it alongside his. He took away the heaviness, and I still don’t understand how he did it. I don’t understand who he was or why he carried such medicine. I spend my days writing my heart out, trying so hard to explain the tremendous comfort he brought.
He was 11 when he got sick, and he died within 10 days of his diagnosis. The moment he passed, I felt a shift in the atmosphere. The light changed. In a way, I still feel frozen in that spot, still stuck in that sterile veterinarian’s office with his lifeless head on my lap. I write this book in an effort to move out of that room, to share the beauty that was his being, to share our story of healing. How blessed I was to have him.
4 thoughts on “For Bunker”
I thought I was the only one who started worrying about my dog’s eventual death the day I got her. When my golden retriever, Nessie, did pass away at the emergency vet, right before her 12th birthday last year, fairly suddenly, it was so surreal that it had actually happened. It was so disorienting and heartbreaking that everywhere she had been, she no longer was. She was with me through mental illness, bankruptcy, job loss, foreclosure, displacement, and physical illness. The one constant in my life. The one who loved me completely, who always had my back. So many adventures. So much joy. Brava, Nessie. Bravo, Bunker.
So many of us needed to hear your story, Julie. Thank you.
Isn’t it amazing the depth of our love for our dogs? We’re the lucky ones, really.
What a beautiful and moving words! Bunker looks adorable and he will be sorely missing.