Was I dreaming? I don’t think so.

Last night I am pretty sure I felt Charlie’s back against my back. I felt the warmth of him right up beside me.

Now that might not sound like a big deal. But it is.

It is another remarkable change for my Charlie boy.

“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”– Orhan Pamuk

Every day he seems more willing to come closer to me. All those years I guess he feared Abi. She was so jealous of anyone being near me. She was my chief defender.

And I thought it was just Charlie’s way to be a bit removed. That it was his personality.

I could pick him up and place him next to me and he would thrash about like I was hurting him.

Maybe he was simply afraid.

I remember a few months ago, I was thinking about Abi and Charlie’s advancing age. Thinking down the line a ways. And I wondered which of them would go first.

Though it felt like an aberration, I recall thinking: Abi has been the alpha dog all these years. Seems like in fairness, though nothing about death is fair, Charlie should have his turn.

I recall feeling instant guilt for even thinking about such a thing. No one wants to think about their pet dying. But it is inevitable, and so I  guess it’s natural to think about it from time to time. And to dread it.

charlie

Charlie is thriving. His personality has opened up. He seems freer.

He no longer stands by to let Abi eat first, as he’s done for years now when I fed them. (I would pick her up to allow him to eat, but he still seemed shy about eating. He would eat a bit and then stand aside).

Of course if he was really hungry, he would be more bold and eat with her. But if she got aggressive, he would walk away. I would chastise Abi for being mean, but that behavior never changed in all these years.

Now he indulges himself and eats like a little pig. The other day he ate so much he threw up five times. And the food is hardly even chewed due to his lack of teeth!

Charlie is evolving every day. He is more playful. He is transforming from a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Nothing could ever make up for losing my sweet Abi.

But I sure am beginning to enjoy watching my Charlie boy change and grow closer to me.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”–   Josh Billings

Charlie

I’m glad I didn’t give in to the temptation I had a few weeks ago of adopting a cat. Charlie needs time first for his confidence to grow and expand. And I will gladly give him that.

You know they say don’t make any really important decisions when you’re in the early stages of grief. Now I see why. Your judgment is clouded by sorrow.

Maybe some of these things I’m writing seem simplistic, too ordinary to even write or to convey to others. It’s not like I’m showing a DIY project or giving a tutorial for a craft or teaching you something.

I hope these posts about what’s happening after Abi died aren’t growing tiresome.

Every new thing that happens with Charlie, I think almost immediately: Oh, I can’t wait to tell them!

Of course them is all of you. You have become family to me.

I want you to know that I so enjoy reading your comments and emails. Where you share your own pets (and their photos) and your own losses and your own forms of grief. You have no idea how much it helps me.

Charlie (my little transforming butterfly) and I thank you.

“Every dog must have his day.” – Jonathan Swift (author, Gulliver’s Travels)

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  1. Awww, sweet little Charlie boy! I can relate to that – Monkey is definitely the alpha dog in our pack. Molly stands back and waits for her ‘turn’ to be fed or get a treat….I always feed my old girl, Lily first, then Monkey, and then Molly gets her bowl. I feed them in three separate spots so there’s no bickering. Dinner time is always a challenge! Lily doesn’t have to be forced to eat, she’s a piglet. Monkey hates to eat, I have to force her….and little Molly has turned into a little fussbudget! She’s just as spoiled as the other two now, and I’m so glad to be able to do that for her after her rough start to life!

  2. Its such a pleasure for me to read about Charlie coming out of his shell and all that entails! I love that feeling of my pup close to my back….never gets old. Our Gracie seems to sleep part of the time against my back and part of the time against my husband’s back. I guess she doesn’t want to choose a favorite LOL
    Have a great day

  3. Love your posts about Charlie and Abi … everyone works through their grief in a different way and I am glad to see you and Charlie becoming closer. Loss gives you a different perspective on those around you because one realizes how temporary this life really is and how we should enjoy THIS day. Take care.

  4. Brenda- I never knew I was a dog person until I met my husband and we had a child. She like most, wanted a puppy. I fought it for several years and then finally gave in to the pleading.firat was Molly Belle. After 8 months, Finnegan found a home with us. I was only blessed with one child but often think that our home is complete because of our Boston Terrier, Molly Belle and Finnegan. I understand how important our fur family is to us as yours is too you. Sending love and peace.

  5. As you can tell from all these comments, we love your writing anything about your life. It’s never boring! The book reviews are another story!

  6. I’m so glad to hear that Charlie is thriving and enjoying his time to take center stage. His pictures make me think of a little Stief teddy bear. He is an adorable boy. Enjoy his snuggles and transformation into a beautiful butterfly… he is so sweet ❤️

  7. Hello Brenda, What a lovely post about precious Charlie. I thought of the song, “Wind beneath my Wings.” Charlie stayed in the shadows and let little Abi Rose shine. Now he is on the stage and performing with all the gusto he has! It is his time to break out and show his true
    loving personality; he can help you move forward knowing he is “there” for you. Bless his little sweet face, heart, and life.

    1. He never seemed to mind being in the shadows, that I could tell. I always chastised Abi for picking on him or bossing him or refusing to share food. Never seemed to make a difference. He sure is eating now! I may have to watch his weight.

  8. What a wonderful blog post. Put such a lump in my throat. This is a special time for you and Charlie, savour every moment of it.

    Female dogs often are alpha. My Boxer always stood aside for female dogs and he never even lived with one. It could be the tiniest little teacup Chihauhau even but if it was female it was always a no touch zone to him. Another male however, he’d take no guff whatsoever, flatten him right to ground if need be. We use to comment on what a true gentleman he was, he was so fine. But, it appears to my eyes another fine gentleman has appeared on the scene …. and his name is Charlie!

    Oh sweet Charlie, I look into his eyes and see so much of my little Tobi in him who was also part Yorkie and then I just cry all over again.

    Remember the song, “If we could talk to the animals just imagine it”. When I was a little girl I use to wonder if it was possible and what a glorious gift that would be if they really could talk.

    So many lessons my boys taught me but one of them was …we do talk mom … and we have soooooooooo much to say!

    They are just divine … and you are never boring.

    1. They talk to us in their own subtle ways. We just have to listen. I’m learning how to do that with this shy little boy. When I was a child, the pets were my playmates.

  9. Brenda, this post made me cry with happiness for you both. Charlie is coming into his own and so enjoying having you all to himself. It makes me so happy for you both. I look forward to hearing more stories of this sweet little boy as he continues to be brave and bold each day. You are a wonderful mom!
    Carol and Molly

  10. I love to read how you are both doing, how Charlie is showing more of his personality is lovely. ? hugs

  11. So happy to hear of Charlie’s “coming about”. I remember how you used to say he didn’t like to be photographed and notice that now he seems to like it. How sweet he is! We (all your readers) love that you think of us as family. I really enjoy your stories, never tire of them.

    1. Charlie is coming into his own, I guess you could say. I’m proud to watch his progress, just like any mama.

  12. Your posts since Abi died have helped me as I continue on my own path through grief. As for Charlie, I’m sure he loved Abi, but, maybe he felt a little bit henpecked. Once, our female cat got out and was missing for days. Her brother always got along with us but he found her to be annoying. He seemed quite content while she was gone. She showed back up after 10 days and they went right back to picking on each other. While I was happy our girl was back, I felt kind of sorry for her brother than his peace had ended.

    1. When I write what I’m feeling on any given day, I always hope that my words are hitting you on a day when you are going through something similar and that it helps you to know you aren’t alone.

  13. I think I commented earlier about how an animal can change when the herd changes.. like our cat Rudy. He was such a scared little kitten and never wanted us to touch him. But once the other two were gone (we kept him as he was too hard to catch to give away!)… he totally changed.. and now he is the most loving, affectionate and fun cat! I think when the others are more aggressive, the shy one is left to fend for themselves, and they tend to stay more alone. He is in his element now and blossoming every day! I’m so happy for sweet little Charlie, that he is having a chance to bloom too. Marilyn

    1. Your story about your passive Rudy makes me feel better. That maybe it’s more typical a situation than I ever knew. That’s a good way to find a home: be too hard to catch to give away! How funny!

  14. oh darling bean!
    he’s like someone who maybe is finding his own little personality for the first time! I know the alpha business is important in dog land. and it’s only natural.
    but to seem him unfolding and trusting that he’s worthy in his own right!
    it’s just beautiful! thank you for sharing with us. I never tire of pictures of him!
    can you imagine having to be patient just to share your love? it’s amazing! XO

    1. Saddens me that he felt he had to wait so long. He was a patient little trooper. Standing in line, awaiting his turn. I never loved one dog over the other. One was just more demanding.

  15. Hi Brenda
    I always look forward to reading your post. Yes you write beautifully and it’s always wonderful hearing what’s going on with you and puppy.
    Glad to hear Charlie is feeling more comfortable to get close to his mama. Glad he’s having his day too. ?

  16. Oh, this makes me so happy to hear how Charlie is blooming. I doubt it was your imagination that he slept by you. That is such a sweet photo. He looks like he has a new twinkle in his eye. Keep the stories coming! My own pets bring me such joy. They are a sweet gift to life.

    1. Please also share your pet stories here with me. I love to read them! Some of you email me photos of pets, and then I can picture your life with them.

  17. I always look forward to your writing so don’t stop chatting with us Brenda. It’s how we all work through our differences and understandings so inform us, enlighten us and tell us your thoughts. We all care. It’s nice you had your little man to watch him feel more independent. Thank you for being there for us too.

    1. I hope that this is a give and take, that we share and teach one another. That we share both joy and pain. That we are a circle of friends that are always there for one another. Teaching one another by our own individual experiences.

  18. I got tears in my eyes about the “I can’t wait to tell them”, because I do feel like you are a good friend.

  19. It is heartwarming to read your thoughts about life and loss. You put into words things most of us could never express. Thank you ! And please don’t stop ….for your sake and your readers. You and Charlie have a nice weekend. My pup, Dixie and I will have some couch time this weekend. Take care XO..Crystal and Dixie

    1. I’m so grateful to have all of you. You bring me such joy and reflection. Enjoy your couch time, Crystal and Dixie!

    1. It’s just that I write about ordinary life, and sometimes I wonder if it’s just too generic and banal. My blog is like a diary of my life.

  20. I love hearing about Charlie, thank you for sharing. I too had 2 Bassett Hounds Katie passed away with kidney failure at the age of 10 and left Matt to grieve her loved her so. They were brother and sister. But Matt lived to 14, he died in 2014 I cried every day for almost a year. Nothing like losing someone who loves you more than themself . . .

    1. A dog’s love is so pure and unconditional. We can bask in that love and know they’ll never hurt or disappoint us. I know I’ll cry every day for a long time. I’ll be fine and then the tears overflow out of nowhere. Always just under the surface.

  21. Oh how wonderful! Now that you mention it, thinking back on all the photos of him you’ve posted in the past, he did look reserved. The pic today of him looking up at you looks like an entirely different pup … so full of life and spunk. With Abi’s personality she would have been a perfect only pet and I’m so sorry you lost her … but at the same time I’m glad Charlie now has you all to himself! Love it!

    1. It is the perfect example of “bittersweet.” He was reserved. Still is at times. But he’s showing more spunk. When he wants outside, if I don’t immediately get up, he makes this low masculine groan and parades around the room dramatically. So funny!

  22. Brenda, so happy to hear of Charlie’s new found personality!

    He’s so sweet and adorable. Enjoy every moment with him.
    You’re so blessed to have him in your life.

    Thoughts and prayers.
    Love your daily posts, lynn

  23. I never tire of your posts. From today’s I learned or had it rehearsed to me not to make rash decisions in times of grief. Wait until one’s head is “cooler.” Give time time. Thanks.

  24. So glad Charlie is coming out now and being able to snuggle up to you and to eat without thinking he has to wait. I do think he will enjoy being the only pet in the house. You are an amazing pet Mom Brenda and its really nice to hear that there a lot of us out there that really love and care for our animals. I know you did all you could for Abi, in loving her, talking to her, stroking her, hugging her etc,I don’t think you could have done more.

    Thinking of you and Charlie every day.

    1. It does my heart good to read your stories about your lives and pets. Like a club. A pet club. There is not any part of me that could have loved Abi more than I did. And still do. And always will.

  25. I love hearing stories of Charlie’s metamorphosis. We know not how many years we will have with our pets, we just have to enjoy and love them all we can. I know that is not a problem with you.

    1. I enjoy him every single day. No, not a problem for me! And I think the same could be said for all of you.

  26. I think every one of your readers enjoys each post you write and we love reading about Abi and Charlie. It is so neat that Charlie is coming into his own. I really enjoy reading about how he is more comfortable with his new position in your life and how brave he is becoming.

    1. Life evolves into ways we never expected. Sometimes it is a gift; sometimes it is a lesson to learn.

  27. We have a cat, got her 3 yrs ago at 8 wks old and she is like you described Charlie. She certainly isn’t a lap kitty! When we try to hold her she thrashes about and gets away as fast as she can! There are the rare occasions that she will jump up on our lap for the shortest time and it just makes our day! We love her so much, and would give anything if she was cuddly but we will take her as she is & relish the rare occasions!

    1. Like people, every pet is different. Like trying to push a square peg into a round hole. Don’t think we can change them.

  28. You definitely are not boring us Brenda! I’m glad to hear that Charlie is more comfortable now.

    I was thinking if you have a tape recorder or use your phone to talk on, then you could get ur book started. Then someone like ur daughter or a friend could type it out after. Just a thought to help you get started bc you have the knack for writing.

    1. I am fulfilled writing right here. My daughter barely has the time to sleep, and I don’t think I could translate my feelings into words without typing them. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks!

  29. My daughter adopted two rescue dogs about 2 weeks apart, both were just a few months old. She took them for obedience training. They stressed the importance of her being the Alfa dog and gave her some instructions. One was to give the dogs something, a
    Bone, chew toy etc
    and then take it back out of their mouth. This established her as the Alfa. It is important to start this when young.

    1. Good to know. I’ll probably just have cats next living in an apartment. I clearly spoiled my pupsters.

  30. Brenda, I so look forward to your daily posts and some days you treat us with 2 posts!!!! I enjoy reading about you daily life and please never think you are boring us. You are a gifted writer and thanks for sharing your talents with all of us. I miss Abi as you do but it is so wonderful to see Charlie coping so well these days.

    1. Abi was such a robust personality, filled with goofiness, always making me laugh. I’m so glad Charlie and I have each other so we aren’t mourning alone.

  31. What a joy to read about Charlie’s “emergence!”

    I told you recently that now I think of you and Abi when I see fireflies; they are there outside my picture window at night. A few nights ago one got in the house! DId Abi come for a visit?!?

    1. I haven’t seen one firefly since I saw that one last month. Seemed like Abi blinking at me, telling me that she’s always close by just like she was always stuck to me like glue in life. Oh, I miss her. What I’d give to see her smile again.

  32. I’m so happy to read about you and Charlie evolving into a new life together. Very heartwarming and such a good feeling to hear about Charlie blossoming, growing and becoming a butterfly.

  33. Aww, Charlie seems like such a sweet little dog. Now he is blossoming, and it is wonderful.
    Thanks Brenda for sharing so many details of your life. I always look forward to reading your thoughts and feelings and how your daily life transpires.

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