Goodbye Skip, My Best Friend

Goodbye Skip, My Best Friend

Today I put Skip to sleep. Many of you know who Skip is, but for those who don’t, Skip was my long time faithful dog. Yesterday he couldn’t keep anything down, and when we woke up this morning he was completely lethargic. After blood work and an ultrasound this morning we discovered that he had gallbladder mucoceles. The main diagnosis for this is surgery to remove the gallbladder. I was forced to make one of the hardest decisions of my life.

Skip was fifteen years old (some would argue sixteen… Mom). Because of his advanced old age there was no guarantee that he would survive the surgery, not to mention the fact that it is very expensive at a time in my life when I’m penny pinching. After leaving him at the animal hospital for the day he was only getting worse. Even with the IV and medicine he still couldn’t keep anything down, so he got even more dehydrated and weak. At 4:45 today Heather and I watched Skip take his last breath as he went to sleep. I am thankful that Skip didn’t suffer for many days, weeks, or months. When he went downhill he went downhill quickly.

From the day I first picked up Skip in Dahlonega, GA we were best friends. I was helping my mom with a yard sale at our house when a family friend mentioned this older dog that someone had brought into the animal shelter. He volunteered at the shelter on a regular basis and was very familiar with the animals. It is hard to find a home for older dogs. Most people don’t want a dog in middle age or older. I had recently purchased my house. The house I chose had a fenced in backyard because I was planning to eventually get a dog. I was actually hoping to find a dog that I wouldn’t have to housetrain or completely break in. Before I knew it we were off to the shelter to look at this dog named “Chipper.”

This little Boston Terrier/Beagle mix was frozen on the bottom shelf in the back of his cage scared out of his mind. He had tears in his eyes and was trembling. I looked him in the eye, asked if he wanted to go home with me, and a lifelong bond was formed. Oh, we had also misheard his name over the phone. It was Tipper, not Chipper. It didn’t matter at that point because I had already renamed him Skipper and because it was close enough he didn’t know the difference.

Skipper had many characteristics like the dog in the movie of the same name. You see, when I was at home Skip never let me out of his sight, following me from room to room or waiting near the door for me to come home. He had infinite patience, love, and assurance. Skipper changed my life. When I first met him I was struggling to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. As silly as it sounds it was Skipper who gave me the confidence to start grad school, fight for the job as the webmaster at Wofford College, create .eduGuru out of nothing, give his blessing of Heather (yes, Heather, you probably didn’t know it but we had a talk after y’all first met and he approved of you), take the job at HubSpot and move to Boston (it took six months of going back and forth before we both agreed it was the right thing to do), start my own company nuCloud, and finally yes, he was one of the reasons  we moved back from Boston. In every way Skip has been along for the journey, never doubting and providing the love and support that I needed.

The funny thing about our journey together is we didn’t even know each other for over half of his long life. Skip had lived eight years with someone else before our seven years together. I always joked that Skip came to live with me in retirement, but it was much more than that. He taught me so many lessons.

  • Patience - His never-ending patience was something I had never witnessed in a dog before. He would sit next to you while you ate and sit there for an hour if he thought you would give him a scrap of food.
  • Taking advantage of second chances – I gave him a second chance and he never forgot it.
  • Hold closely what you care deeply for – As I’ve said Skip never let me leave his sight if he could help it. He knew what was important to him. He made it through four moves as an old dog, not to mention all the different people he stayed with.
  • Selflessness – To the end he was selfless. We didn’t know how bad things really were until last night he crawled behind the bed where we couldn’t easily get to him and then he collapsed. I threw him in a number of different situations with different people and places and he always adapted.
  • Loyal – Skip was a loyal dog. Forever thankful for what I did for him in getting him out of the shelter.
  • Love – Finally and most importantly Skip gave unconditional love. Skip never met a person or another dog that he didn’t love. Over the years I must have left him with two dozen different people while I traveled. Kim, Jenny, Sabrina, Katy, Dan, Amelia & Rob, Brian & Sam, David, Mike, Meggin, Caroline, Whitney & John, Bonnie & Robert, Wil, Mama & Daddy, and everyone that I’m forgetting, Skip loved you too. Of course he was always happy when I came to pick him up, but he loved you for his vacation.

I wanted Skip to have the chance to come back home to SC so he could enjoy his backyard again. He was able to spend the final three months enjoying many afternoons out in the yard pulling weeds with me. He will continue to enjoy his backyard because I buried Skip under the deck. On hot summer days he would sneak under the deck and sit in the cool shade. He always enjoyed that time, so it was only fitting to put him to rest there.

Skip got me through the tough times. I can’t help but feel like he pushed me out of a life funk, gave me direction and helped me find myself on our trip to Boston and back. It was just under six weeks ago that Heather and I got married. I can’t help but question if he knew that he had helped me get to this milestone in my life and his work was complete. He knew he was leaving me in good hands with her.

Thank you, Skip. We will always be best friends. I love you. All dogs go to heaven and we’ll be together again one day.

8 Comments

  1. Karlyn
    Jun 8, 2012

    What a lovely tribute, Kyle. I’m tearing up after reading it. Skip truly found his human soul mate with you.

  2. Kyle James
    Jun 8, 2012

    it is ok Karlyn. I have been doing the manly thing of crying all day. The thing about crying is we don’t do it because you are hurt but because we are selfish. I’m selfishly missing ever spending time with Skip again even though I know he is no longer in pain and in a better place.

  3. Sam
    Jun 8, 2012

    Condolences, Kyle. Skip was a great dog. You gave him a wonderful home with more love than any dog could hope for and he had a long, happy life because of it.

    My family lost our Black Lab Raven a year and a half ago to and it was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve had to deal with in my life. We’d never lost one so young…she was only 8 and had an absolutely terrible battle with cancer. On top of that I was 300 miles away…I made it home to be with her during her last few days. She looked like a ghost. Rail thin, with barely enough strength to hold her head up. And you know what she kept trying to do when I was there?

    She kept trying to play fetch with me. My mom said it was the most she’d moved in weeks when I was there. This poor dog, who couldn’t eat or drink and was hanging on to her last bit of life, had the will to find a stick in the yard and bring it to me. So I tossed the stick just a few feet in front of her and she brought it back…just so I could play fetch with her one last time, because I knew that’s what she wanted. The next day she was gone. I don’t think I’ll ever take for granted the patience, loyalty, and unconditional love you get from having a dog in your life because of that.

    I’m glad I got to dogsit for him because as someone who grew up with a dogs in the house until I moved out of my parents place, it’s something I’ve missed very much since moving up here. Being able to come home to Skip – even just for a few days – filled a very empty void in my heart.

    For a long time I just wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to give a dog a good home until I moved out to the burbs or the country. My family’s always had labs – wonderful dogs – but as it turns out…not quite made for city life when they need wide open spaces to run around. I was never big on little/apartment-sized dogs. But Skip was such a sweetheart and a good sport. Skip gave me hope that Brian and I could find a dog to adopt that wouldn’t mind walks on concrete and a teeny yard.

    I think the thing that amazed me the most was just how good he was at adapting to change and not letting it bother him. Such a good temperament. We’ll be very lucky to find a dog like Skip that’s better at dealing with life’s changes than we are.

    Rest in peace, Skipper.

  4. dennis miller
    Jun 8, 2012

    Very lovely and moving, Kyle. Dogs and humans bond in a way that is unique and intimate. We’ve had to put a few down over the years. No one can understand the sense of loss until they go through it. You were very lucky to have your years with Skip and you’ll always have the memories. Thanks for sharing your beautiful tribute.

  5. Kyle James
    Jun 8, 2012

    Sam – thank you so much for sharing this. There was something about him, something special. You hit the head on the nail with the comment about adaptable. I doubt we’ll wait long be looking for another dog. There will never be a replacement for Skip, or Raven, but there are other loyal and loving dogs that need homes.

    My advice, and something I intend to follow myself, is to find another dog at the animal shelter who needs love. You are a lot more likely to find one that already is house trained, mature and is begging for a loving home.

    Brian and you will be great “roommates” to a little guy, or girl.

    Dennis – So true… So true. My dad is really sick and going downhill quickly recently with brain cancer and I cannot help but think that Skip is still teaching me. Skip is preparing me to deal with that loss and getting to the other side first to welcome him when it is my dad’s time.

    There is definitely a unique and special bond that only happens with dogs.

  6. Robin2go
    Jun 10, 2012

    Kyle, your story makes me weep. I almost didn’t get a dog because I was afraid I wouldn’t be strong enough to make the right decision for her when the time came to make it. Pets become a part of our lives so very quickly, and there is nothing like a dog to create a lifelong bond within our souls. People without dogs cannot grasp how integral the become to our lives; I feel sorry for them because they cannot learn those life lessons which you have so eloquently stated.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  7. JOYCE DAVIS
    Jun 11, 2012

    Kyle, I know what Skip has meant to you – read Rainbow Bridge, that I sent to your mother –
    you are right about him preparing you for the death of a love one , that’s still will be very hard , but God will get you thru it!!

    My Penny is a 12 -1/2 yr old blind weinner dog, and she got lost the other day. Eddie & I spent the day searching for her, later a neighbor rang our doorbell with her –
    I know our time is short with her .

  8. Karen
    Jun 16, 2012

    KJ, this is beautifully written and a tear jerker. I’m so glad to have known Skip during his time here in Boston. He was a great friend for sure.

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