A Girl’s Best Friend
By Pearl Gilbert
My best friend was abnormal. We were so close that he could be considered family. He was also the messiest, loudest, and not-so-smart individual I have ever known. Yet, he was also the sweetest and most outgoing. He was always ready for adventure, whether it was trying new food or meeting new people, he met every act with vigor and a smile. Also, once he set his mind to something, there was no way to hold him back.
He was an excellent swimmer, one who never tired and would love to keep his friends company. However, his method of swimming involved collateral damage, as he was an unstoppable force (he was very large), and loved to follow others into dangerously high water. He didn’t like wearing life jackets, which concerned us as he tended to inhale water.
My friend brightened every day, for his childish positivity was everlasting, as well as contagious. He provided emotional support for anyone in need, and always kept me company.
My friend had a name: Diesel. He was a dog.
Diesel was the family pet and member from 2007-2015, when he passed away on February 15, the day after Valentine’s Day. He was life-changing, both when he was alive and even after his death. Diesel was a beautiful dog who was vital to our family. He never judged, always listened, and loved us almost as much as he loved food. He loved toys and furniture he wasn’t allowed on. His numerous antics ensured a smile and a lighter mood, no matter how bad the day was. Our friendship was the longest I have ever had.
Diesel was my first puppy, my first pet, my first introduction to American bulldogs and dogs in general. He was also the best and most joyous innocent little puppy. With tail a-wagging and tiny nose excitedly exploring his new home and family, he single-pawdedly won our hearts at first encounter. He had no fear, despite his small size (he started that way and grew up to be a rather large adult) and was eager to sniff out his unfamiliar surroundings.
Pets, like Diesel, play an important role in people’s lives. They will love you unconditionally, without judgement or ill will. They couldn’t care less about your physical appearance, history, or preferences, they only want food and care in return. Their beloved daily antics can provide comic relief, and all of the stress of the day washes away. They can always be counted on to listen or to simply provide company. It doesn’t matter that they can’t speak.
Furthermore, some pets can act as a security system. My dog was quite sizable (he was a bit over a hundred pounds) and had a resonating bark, which made a few people afraid of him. The UPS man was so afraid of Diesel that he refused to go to our door and threw the package at our porch instead. Another time, a door-to-door salesman tried to sell wreaths at our house at night, which was also the same time I was walking Diesel. Diesel started barking at the salesman and ran to him. Needless to say, the salesman didn’t sell any wreaths at our house, nor did he hang around very long.
By one definition, a family is a group of people connected by blood or adoption; one has no choice in deciding who their family is; they are simply “stuck” with those people until they move out of the house (or into the basement, in which case, they elected to stay with them).
By another definition, a family can be chosen later in life, with significance is equal to one linked by blood or adoption.
With a family that is chosen, the person has control of whom they associate with and are not restrained by blood. This can give a person the freedom to create a family unit consisting of close friends. And, a chosen family may be ideal when the person’s blood family either died or treated them poorly. This family can help the broken individual and fill in all the gaps left by their kin.
Diesel was a constant in our lives, one who had stayed with us and accompanied us for eight years. When Diesel died, we were all shocked and grieved at his passing. He taught us to appreciate what we have and know that it will not always be there. We must cherish the temporary and accept the struggle that follows its passing. Death is a part of life, no matter how painful. Diesel proved that you don’t need to talk or to even be human to love and make a permanent impact on your life.
Diesel contributed to the family by relieving stress and giving us happiness. His carefree life and acceptance is something we can all aspire to, as we were not as outgoing and free-willed as he was. Pets like Diesel are important family members. They will never criticize you and they will always love you unconditionally. They don’t need to talk or be human to make and impact on your life. But as the Persian adage says, "This too shall pass." The rawness of grief left by the death of my beautiful boy has dulled over the past three years. However, it is a hole nonetheless, one that will remain through the test of time.
Diesel left me many things: memories and a puppy-filled childhood. But most importantly, he taught me to cherish the temporary. Nothing will last forever.