Afterglow by Emily Littlewood

My dog sits right next to me. He’s a fourteen-almost-fifteen year old soft-coated wheaton terrier. He’s recovering from another bout of pneumonia, only two months since the last. Insanely cozy and sweet, mellow and always ready for a nap, he’s night-and-day different from his puppy days, when my husband and I thought we’d made a mistake for the entire first year of his life.

When Animal (named because of his similarity to the drum-rocking muppet) was a puppy he was batshit insane. He’s always been so lovable, and so loved, but those first years he was exhausting. He’d run around inside, at top speed, for about twenty minutes, then just fall over and take a ten minute nap to gain the strength to do it again. ALL DAY LONG. He could (and would) jump over the back of the couch, from a standing position. He chewed any piece of cardboard he could find, the snow goggles, the foam padding of a helmet. He’d eat entire sticks of butter mistakenly left on the counter.

One time, before I’d finished dressing for work he got out of the yard, and I had to chase him up my street, in full view of all of my neighbors, in my underwear.

And there was the infamous body surfing incident at my grandparents’ brunch. Animal, who clearly felt he was the guest of honor, launched himself across the table, good dishes flying in all directions.

For every story of his crazy, there are about a thousand more of Animal’s loving, dog-perfect nature. He has always loved to cuddle. He loves to run errands with me in the car, in fact loves to go everywhere with me in the car. He’s always had the best temperament around children, instinctively knowing to be careful despite his excitement to see them. His happiness at seeing me has never waned, and it’s never stopped thrilling me. There are the times he’s sat by my side and kissed me while I’ve cried, or laid next to me when I was sick, or squished up so close to me at night that I’m practically hanging off the bed.

When I got home from my transplant (about four weeks away from him), Animal was so excited that he literally jumped through the open car doors to get to me, then ran through the car and back again, so happy he didn’t know what to do. Which, to be honest, is exactly how I feel about him. And why I’m terrified and distraught about when it’s his time to go.

But when that day eventually comes, I will sit in his favorite spots and try to temper my grief with the warmth he leaves behind.

Photo of Animal and Emily

Animal, the best of the best
08.09.2008 — 08.13.2023

Emily Littlewood
Emily Littlewood lives with her dog, Animal, and husband Jason in Raphine, Va. After getting a degree to teach English, Speech and Theater, she began working in banks. She is currently copy-editing for Streetlight and working back toward her passions.

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