It’s hard to believe that it has been 1 year since we had to let our beloved, Hercules, go. He was almost 12 years old. He would have celebrated his birthday with us in just a couple weeks. We had to let him go though. Hercules had a bad heart. What I mean is he started out with a heart murmur. Over the years it grew worse. On Christmas night, 2014, he started coughing. I immediately thought he picked up a cold from the kennel at the groomers. The next day he went to the vet. I really don’t think the vet tech understood why I immediately started crying when they brought him back in. I knew the girl and she went ahead and told me they pulled some blood off his abdomen. I knew then. I knew that his time was limited and he wouldn’t be with us forever like I hoped. Forever wasn’t possible but for some crazy reason, I hoped he would make it until our first born went to high school. He only made it to the 4th grade. Hercules was spoiled beyond words so there is no doubt he would have if he didn’t have a bad heart.
Marty sometimes gets annoyed with me when I talk about him. It’s been a year and it still feels like yesterday. “He was just a dog.” Yes. He was just a dog. Marty loved him, don’t get me wrong. But Hercules was really a best friend. We rescued him from a local humane society in the spring of 2003. We had only been married 7.5 months. Marty had just returned from Afghanistan. It was our first deployment of many. We thought it would be fun to stop by and see the animals. Hercules was not our first or second choice. The two we picked both passed away while being neutered. Hercules was the runt and the last one left of the litter. He was tiny. His fur didn’t match the others. He was ours. We named him Hercules. He survived the neutering and came home with us.
Soon, Marty was off traveling the world, training. I was home with Herc. We had an apartment at the time so I had to potty train him. It wasn’t the most fun I have ever had but we bonded. Luckily for me, he caught on quickly and rarely ever had an accident in the house (even when he was dying and the medicine was making him pee frequently). Herc traveled with me everywhere. If I went to see family or join my grandma for Sunday dinner, he was in tow. He was welcomed anywhere within my family. He was fun. He loved the front passenger seat. It was his. I probably could have buckled him in if I tried.
We rescued a lab a few months later but he was always my favorite. He will always be my favorite.
When we brought home our first born he was the first to check him out. He even wanted in the crib to make sure he was fine. I think the child became the pet after a while. Life went on and Hercules became the best dog in the world. Many deployments passed and he was always on alert and truly protected the family and house.
Our lab, Athena, passed away on Christmas night 2009. Rea was a newborn. We watched Herc grow sad and depressed. A few months later, we were offered another dog. I accepted the offer and home came Lu. Those two became best of friends and he practically was the parent to her. It was awesome to watch a 5 year old dog “raise” a puppy.
Fast forward a couple years, a couple moves, and a lot of miles later (plus leaving the military). Herc and Lu traveled with us, lounged on our furniture, and he practically ran the house. When I became pregnant with KB, he became very protective and even more loving. That’s one thing I truly miss – all the kisses. He knew when you felt down, or sad, happy, or upset. He was always there and would wait by me until I was myself again.
After the first visit to the vet that rocked my world, we went weekly to have the blood removed from his abdomen. I should be thankful that it was only backing up from his heart into the abdomen and not his lungs. It gave us more time with him. He grew weak over the days and barely moved. The medicine made him pee more but it also made him skinny. I gave him a sweater for Christmas which it eventually helped to cover up his body. It also helped to keep him warm. Marty returned from a work trip to see what he hoped wasn’t true (or simply an over exaggeration on my part). He knew it was time to let him go. I wasn’t there yet. I am still not there yet and it’s been a year. The vet made us an appointment for about 2 weeks after Marty got home and we spent it just hanging out.
All three kids struggled with it. Mostly Bubba. He didn’t want him to go. It’s hard when you know it is coming and there is nothing you can do to stop it. On that Thursday, we loaded up in the car. We left Lu at home. I made Marty drive around until the last possible minute because I didn’t want to pull into the vet’s office. Once we arrived, they came to our car. We were able to at least give him some dignity in leaving this world by being wrapped up in a blanket with Marty holding him and me in front of his face. I wanted to be the last thing he seen before he left this world. I wanted him to know I loved him and would always love him. My best friend passed away on February 19th at 4:20 p.m. I closed his eyes as Marty felt his heart stop. The tears flowed.
We covered him up and drove away. Marty stopped by a local grocery store to get flowers and I knew he was upset. He didn’t speak a word. We drove to my mother’s house. Marty and Bubba buried him while my mom, granny, and KB watched from the front porch rocking chairs. Rea had fallen asleep crying.
Maybe he was just a dog. Maybe I am being over the top. However, when you have spent as much time alone as I have over the years, you wouldn’t think that. I am pretty sure I have spent more time with that dog in my entire marriage than with my own husband. The military was very busy for many years and it was those years that Herc was in my life, filling a void.
I miss him.
I love you, Herc.
Rea drew this not too long after Herc was gone. We cut it out and laminated it.
He is forever with me.