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Life Lessons From My Dog, Sebastian

I have always grown up with dogs. Our family raises them as if they are part of the family. And when I got Sebastian, an eight week old Shetland Sheepdog (sheltie or miniature collie) it was no different. But he was MY dog. I bought him and paid for his expenses. And he was expensive. He was AKC registered and came from a bloodline of grand champions.  But that didn’t matter to me. It was his face and eyes that said he had to be with me. He had grass allergies, bee allergies and teeth issues (until I found a raw food diet)  that cost me about $1,000 in vet bills.

First Responsibility

I was 23 years old. Sebastian was my first real responsibility beyond taking care of myself and my job as an adult. My childhood dog, Buttons (she was 17 years old) died when Sebastian was only four months old. He helped me get through that loss. As an only child, Buttons was a sister of sorts. She let me dress her up and when I cried or was mad at my parents she was a fantastic listener. But as sad as it was to lose her, Sebastian needed me. He needed my attention, love and training time. He brought me so much joy and thousands of giggles.

Smartest Dog Ever

Sebastian was very easy to train. He wanted to please me so badly. He always seemed like a wise old soul. If I was upset, he would crawl up next me and just be. I would calm down as I pet his beautiful hair. Because he was so smart and everything I had read about shelties is you need to stimulate them. I enrolled him into a puppy training program through community education.  He was awesome. Sebastian was the teacher’s pet. He did everything almost it seemed after the first try. He didn’t need food as a reward just my love and affection. He did so well, we ended up doing agility and free style training too. He had a bag of tricks to impress people.

He was my shadow. Everywhere I went, he went. He loved the car, he loved my parents house, he loved going on adventures. He even traveled by plane to Florida and got lost in the airport (a day I don’t want to ever relive). He was just a go with the flow kinda dog. Anywhere I was, he was happy. I couldn’t even go the bathroom without him following me. He was excellent off leash and never really went more than 8 feet away from me.

It’s all in a name

Sir Sebastian McCloud had several nick names, baby boy, boobie, bubba, bubbazoo and more. I loved the name Sebastian. I had a good friend in Spain that had that name, plus I loved the little Mermaid and Sebastian Bach. It was just a good regal name for him. Because he was a Shetland Sheepdog from the Shetland Islands in Scotland, I wanted him to have some scottish roots too. And Sir because he was so regal, proud and beautiful.

465237_10150998368073455_54976442_oIn his free time

He loved catching frisbees and running through the sprinkler. He could do both for hours and hours. Or he could simply lay at my feet and take a snooze. Over the last couple of years he began to lose his eyesight and become deaf. He slowed way down and his hips became weak. He was aging. He was showing signs of getting old.

My younger dog Minna (3 years old) would help him get around. We joked that she was his seeing/hearing dog. But he would clean her ears and every once in a while play with her. I knew the time was coming that we would have to say goodbye but nothing really prepares you for the moment. Yesterday, his aging turned into pain. He was disoriented and couldn’t stay standing for more than a minute without falling. His legs were just so weak. I knew it was time. We had to do the right thing. Even if it felt like the wrong thing in every ounce of my being. He deserved more.

Euthanizing Sebastian was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I didn’t want to say goodbye to that precious face. I loved him so much.

Why Dogs Are Awesome

He passed away yesterday in my arms and I have realized he has taught me so much:

1. Taking care of an animal is a huge responsibility. But one that comes with so many rewards. Rewards in my soul.

2. Investing in your animal with training is so worthwhile. He was a very well-behaved dog and everyone said that about him.

3. Animals are fantastic judges of character. He always knew which people were the best.

4. Aging sucks but it is a part of life. And to make sure you live your youth with gusto so that you can always remember the good times.

5. What it is like to be adored. Sebastian looked at me with such love and belief. I could do no wrong in his eyes. He made me want to be the person he saw.

6. Letting go is impossible. After 14 and 1/2 years of him constantly by my side, saying goodbye is heart wrenching. But seeing him at peace is essential. He deserved that after all he gave in his life.

7. When you give much in this life, you are rewarded far beyond your wildest imagination. He lived to serve and he got all sorts of treats and lovings for his good deeds.

8. Live life in the moment. Enjoy running in the sprinkler, long walks, ice cream cones, catching a frisbee, fetching and sunny days. Frolic and play. Smile and take naps.

9. Be excited to see the people you love. Greet people as though you haven’t seen them in years even if its only been 5 minutes. And at the end of the work day when people come home act as if its a party when they arrive.

10. Give of yourself. Unconditionally. Without regret. Without asking for anything in return.

Sebastian was loving, funny, wise and healing. He was a very gentle soul. He was the best parts of me. The person I want to be.

I wish for you to have a Sebastian in your life. To love you, teach you and help you grow.

166228_10150112494113455_7089491_nLetting Go

I am saying goodbye to a dog named, Sebastian. I enjoyed every moment with him.  I have no regrets except that I wish he could have lived a longer  life with us. But part of his magic is that dogs only have a few years to capture your heart, make a difference and leave you changed.

I love you Sebastian, you were the best dog a girl could ever ask for. And you will never be forgotten.

Have you lost a pet? How did you cope with their loss?

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