PostHeaderIcon A Hole In My Heart That Will Never Be Filled

Nearly twenty years ago, I stopped at a service station/bus stop to fill the gas tank in my unmarked police car. In those days, the department had a contract with a fuel company that allowed us to fill up at various spots throughout the city, and one of those places also served as this particular bus stop. Rain was coming down in sheets, but I stopped anyway because but I liked to fill my tank when it hit the halfway mark so I wouldn’t be caught short during an emergency.

I was finishing up, placing the nozzle back into its proper spot on the pump, when I saw three young men approaching a waiting bus. Gusty winds blew the rain sideways at times and I was getting soaked. But the men (all three had a sort of homeless look to them—shaggy hair and dirty, well-worn clothes) seemed to be in no big hurry, splashing through puddles as they made their way across the asphalt, tugging tattered, rolling luggage behind them.

One of the guys held a small puppy in his arms. It was obvious by the way he carried the scared pup that he didn’t care about her. And she was filthy. Her white coat was nearly gray and quite matted.

The first two men presented tickets and climbed aboard the bus. But when the third man, the one carrying the dog, attempted to board, the driver said, “You can’t bring that dog on this bus.” So the man looked around a couple of times and then sort of tossed her onto the wet pavement, and climbed aboard. The bus pulled away with a burp of black exhaust.

The pitiful puppy never moved. Instead, she looked confused and simply stood in the rain, shivering. I ran over and scooped her up and she immediately snuggled deep into my arms. So I carried her back to my car, cranked the heat on high, and headed home to tell Denene that we had a house guest. But I promised that we’d only keep her until we could find her a good home. After all, I already had two active-duty police canines living with us, a huge rottweiler and an overgrown lab that was a true sweetheart. We did not have room for a third dog. No way.

Well, we fed the little poodle and gave her a drink of water. And then we gave her a name and a permanent home. She was irresistible. Pebbles (I don’t remember how we decided on her name) quickly found a place in our hearts, and she was by our sides day-in and day-out for almost two decades. She tagged along on each of our moves, on a cross-country RV trip, hikes, to the beach…everywhere we went. In fact, we never went anywhere or did anything without her.

And she was actually kind enough to endure our little quirks, like the time we bought her a raincoat and boots for Christmas. She hated to get her feet wet, but she loathed those boots even more. She tolerated the raincoat, though.

Pebbles was at my feet every day during the writing of my book on police procedure. She was my first “listener.” And she even caused a bit of a stir with my editor, who called one day to ask why, in the middle of a paragraph about fingerprinting, did I write,” Do you need to go pee pee?” Well, at that time I was using voice-activated software and I’d forgotten to switch it off at a time when I was preparing to take her outside for a break. I guess I missed the odd text when I proofread the chapter.

Denene and I enjoy our dessert around 8pm. And Pebbles enjoyed her own dessert at precisely the same time, four cheese-flavored Goldfish crackers. And we’d better not have been a minute later than 8, either, or she’d drive us nuts until we gave her her “fish.” Pebbles even slept with us every single night of her time with us. She had her own tiny pillow and blanket, too. And a cold nose and pointy toenails. She insisted on touching me from time to time during the night, making sure I was there. Or, if she was cold she’d snuggle as close as she could get. Sure, I hated it so much that I’d roll over and put an arm around her until I felt her go back to sleep. Yep, the three of us were as thick as thieves. Best friends. Pals forever. All for one and one for all.

And yesterday, when she suddenly fell ill, we were there when she left us, snuggling close one final time before she closed her eyes and sighed.

And I cannot begin to tell you what a huge hole was left in our hearts. We’ll miss her, always.

Damn, I loved that dog…

87 Responses to “A Hole In My Heart That Will Never Be Filled”

  • T. L. Cooper says:

    What a beautiful story! I cried! Really I did! You being there just when she needed a new home is nothing short of divine providence! It’s so wonderful the joy she brought to your life and you brought to hers. :-)
    Losing a pet is never easy. I still tear up and smile simultaneously every time I think about my dog who died almost 21 years ago, a border collie named TJ!
    You will always cherish what Pebbles brought to your life!!

  • Lee, so sad to hear about your baby Pebbles. I just lost my heart dog, Delta, 2 months ago, and I still cry every day for her. It is amazing how entwined our furbabies become in our lives. And what a wonderful story of how you came to find her. A few minutes earlier or later, and you two would have missed those 20 wonderful years together. To paraphrase an unknown writer, our goal in life should be to become as good a person as our dogs already think we are. Hugs to you!

  • Dani G. says:

    ~*sniff*~ The best part of the story is what a good guy you are though. I don’t know how anyone could have done better. I put my little lost ones on my computer screen so I can see them and feel as though they are just “on the other side”.

  • Nancy Kattenfeld says:

    So sorry for your loss, Lee. Share my condolences with Denene. I think Pebbles knew how much she was loved.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. Animals are near and dear to my heart as little Pebbles was to yours. You were blessed to have her in your life. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours during this time. Kat

  • I’m so sorry to hear about your dog Lee. Dogs do hold a special place in our heart. This post made me tear up, and laugh out loud. I would have loved to have seen the look on your editor’s face when he ran across the sentence “Do you need to go pee pee?”

  • Very few things in this world hurt more than the loss of a beloved animal. My sympathies to you and your wife. My heart goes out to you.

    Perhaps in dog heaven Pebbles will meet up with our darling Harriette, also a much loved white poodle who had a very rough start in life. They’ll have fun together until we can reclaim them.

  • My symapthies, Lee — our little friends leave such big holes when they go.

    (And I’m sure the karma fairies long ago caught up with the creep who dumped her in the puddle that rainy night.)

  • Harriette Sackler says:

    Lee, my heart breaks for you and your wife. But know that you gave Pebbles a wonderful, loving life. Every time we love a beloved pet, a piece of our hearts go with them.

  • Brenda says:

    I am so sorry! Thanks for sharing the story of her life. What a great life you gave her! How wonderful that you were there at exactly the right time to save her as a puppy. (Our late, dear cat Lucky was rescued by us because we both happened to be exactly where we were unexpectedly too.)

  • Sylvia says:

    Couldn’t help but tear up as I read about Pebbles. I’m so sorry she had to go but so glad you rescued her and gave her a good loving life.

  • Larry Chavis says:

    My heart goes out to you, Lee. I have a half-Shar Pei named Pebbles. She has been with me for seventeen years now, and I understand the ‘hole.’ Pets aren’t really pets … they’re family.

  • Katie Vorreiter says:

    I’m so sad for you and your wife. I dread the day my faithful Pogo will have to say goodbye. It sounds like you & Pebbles contributed a great deal to each others’ lives.

  • Lori Wolf says:

    For having saved Pebbles, the lives of you and Denene will be that much richer, despite the pain you both inevitably feel right now. It’s always anguishing to part company with our animal companions, and my thoughts are with you and yours.

  • Sally Carpenter says:

    Awwwwww…thanks for sharing, Lee. Just about a year ago I had my black cat, Snuggles, put down. He had lost weight, wouldn’t eat and was so weak he could hardly move, but he still purred when I petted him. Before he got sick he was 23-pounds of love who jumped on my lap whenever I sat down and hogged the side of the bed. He was a diabetic cat, too, but a sweetie, and smart. I actually taught him how to shake hands (paws?).

  • Karen Frisch says:

    Prayers and deepest sympathy, Lee. There’s no pain like this. To read so many heartwarming responses lifts my heart. I lost my beloved Sheltie/Aussie mix Merlin in April and still grieve. You and Pebbles were destined to be together. You’ll see her again. She’ll be waiting for you in a better place.

  • Sarah Smith says:

    Deepest sympathy, Lee. May her memory be a blessing.

  • Auntie J says:

    Aw, Lee. I’m so very sorry. How wonderful that she had such a happy, long life with you. Seems the blessing of companionship was mutual. I know that someday the memories will be more sweet and less bitter…and I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

    It still sucks.

    My heart goes out to you. I don’t look forward to the day when we have to say goodbye to our first four-footed family member.

    But I have to say…what a great tribute to Pebbles.

  • Lee, my condolences to both of you on the loss of Pebbles. You will miss her, but I know that she was loved as evident by your wonderful stories. I’d like to say your heartbreak will get better, but we both know, no matter what, it will always be there. The best we can hope for is having all the wonderful, silly, lovable memories.

    Take care

  • Peg Brantley says:

    Lee and Denene, there are no words that will comfort you now. I know because I’ve been there.

    We are all wrapping you in an emotional hug, and pray you feel it.

  • Karen Hosman says:

    My deepest sympathies Lee, What a beautiful tribute to your dear sweet little friend.

  • Julie says:

    There is something so special about pets we rescue. She was fortunate to have you and Denene to give her a wonderful life. Hugs to both of you.

  • Four weeks ago, My BlackJack died unexpectedly. He was a seven-year-old, seventeen-pound, stunningly beautiful, somewhat anxious but very even-tempered all black cat. Three days prior to his death we noticed he looked out-of-sorts but didn’t respond to any of the vet’s intervention. (I was grateful we didn’t have to put him down.)

    I feel your pain, Lee. The way you described Pebbles in bed with you and your wife was exactly how my sweet black boy was with me and my husband. We’d wake up with him stretched full-length between us, belly up. Other times he’d wrap his paws around hubby’s arms or lay behind me with a paw on my shoulder. He was my baby and I miss his presence terribly in my home.

    The pain gets better, but these wonderful creatures that come into our lives leave their mark. You gave that dog a storybook life. In return, Pebbles will always bring peace to your spirit.

    Thank you for sharing Pebbles with us.

  • J.D. says:

    My heart goes out to you. We lost a great Basset Hound on New Years night, 2007. For a long time my wife didn’t want another dog, didn’t want to endure that again. Then my son brought home an American Bull Dog who was about to be put down at the shelter. He too is a great dog. I know how deep your loss is. God bless you and your family.

  • Jackie says:

    I think the best measure of a person is how they treat their pets. You’re a good guy and Pebbles knew it. I have a friend who insists that when we die, every animal we’ve loved will be there to greet us. I sure hope she’s right.

  • Ellis Vidler says:

    Darn, Lee. I’m sitting at my desk at work with tears (and mascara) running down my face. But it’s a beautiful story. I’m so glad you and Pebbles found each other.

    Godspeed, Pebbles.

  • Lee, you have written a beautiful tribute to Pebbles. Thanks for sharing with us. Pebbles was blessed to find such a loving home and I can tell from reading this how much she blessed you both. I’m a firm believer that our family which includes our fur babies will be waiting to greet us when we go to our eternal home. Hugs to you and Denene.

  • Chris says:

    My deepest condolences, Lee. I know the death of a pet can’t and shouldn’t compare to th death of a human, but my wife and I have put 3 cats to sleep in our marriage, and it just plain hurts to lose them. Especially if you’ve had them for a very long time. I cried my eyes out each time. Pebbles sounded like one hell of a great dog.

  • Sorry for your loss, Lee. I know how heart-breaking it is to lose a beloved four-legged friend.

  • Lynn says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Our friends are in our hearts — but sometimes that is not enough.

  • Lois Lavrisa says:

    What an incredible gift for you and Pebbles to have been in each others’ lives. I am very sorry for your loss Lee.

  • Mary Brookman says:

    So sorry for your loss. I can tell by the way you write about Pebbles how much she was a part of your family.

  • What a lovely Tribute! Thank you for sharing a little bit of Pebbles with us. It’s never easy but at least we have wonderful memories. Condolences to you both.

  • Kathy Crouch says:

    My husband and I have had a variety of pets combination of dogs and cats over the 40 plus years of marriage. Often a military move required us to leave pets behind that bites but when we went to Hawaii 3 dogs and a cat were beyond our means to tranport and pay for quarantine. SO we left them with my in-laws one of the dogs survived but died a few years later. After we retired again we’d take pets from other people stray cats etc. One year we bought a poodle off his brother. He was the most difficult poodle of the litter.
    We joked this poodle was ADHD he flunked obedience school but was teh best dog ever at loving you. Evenif he did fight you for the bed. He died the year we began making trips to Fort Hood for my husband’s health problems. He died before we made so many extended trips. God knew it was time for him to go and picked a good time to take him. I know he’s in heaven waiting with your Pebbles for us. Bless you for taking such good care of that little dog. What a blessing God gave you with her.

  • JudyC says:

    So sorry for your loss. Animals and people just seem to be meant for each other. So kind of you to take the wet little critter home. Bet you never regretted it.

  • Cindy Gerard says:

    She was a lucky little dog. We have been there too many times ourselves and know exactly what you are going through. Sending many hugs over your loss.

  • Patricia Van Dyke says:

    I lost my little soul mate Baby-So-Sweet on May 28th of this year. Baby was with me for 14 years and she was at my side all day and all night. My heart still aches badly for her each day that passes. I truly feel your pain. God bless you for being the kind soul who cared so sweetly for little Pebbles.

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