Pete came into my life when I was about 6 years of age, in 1995. I got to name him, and since he was a stubborn little fat pup, Peter it was, then changed to Pete. He had been found by friends of the family on the side of the road, barely able to be away from his mom, so they gave him to us.

He was fattened up by them and he was the fattest little dog you ever saw, just waddling around. He was adorable. All the way home he was in his little cardboard box trying to get out so I was the one to calm him down.

He had a great life, he loved to run around. He was a pit/lab mix and the friendliest dog, and a great protector too. My family was away from the house and the front door hadn’t been latched the whole way, so it was swinging open. Our neighbor came over to shut the door, but Pete was right in the doorway and gave them a low warning growl to not come any closer. He didn’t move until we got home. Pete was the type to bolt out the door first chance he got too, so it was a real surprise.

I remember being angry at him only one time, I had gotten a stuffed dalmation that I absolutely loved, and we came home and it looked like a couch had exploded with all the fluff that came out of that stuffed animal! And Pete sitting on the couch just thumping his tail all slow with a guilty hang-dog look, knowing he was in trouble.

The day came in 2009 when he was an old dog of 14 years though, with white all around his muzzle and bad arthritis. When he couldn’t really go places happily anymore and started not being able to use the bathroom properly, we knew his quality of life was gone. We made the decision to put him down.

I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. The only pet I’ve known for 14 years, this poor, vegetarian (he was allergic to meat products in dog food), arthritic dog was the result. He looked so sad just laying on the table, and I remember when they put that needle in, I was petting him and just crying so hard because I didn’t want to let him go. I didn’t want my little Pete to not be there when I got home from work. I wanted to just scoop him up and take him away so he didn’t have to die. But I knew that it was best for him as he was in so much pain. But it wasn’t best for me, that’s for sure.

He was so still after they did it. He didn’t wag his tail or whine. He didn’t breathe anymore. In front of me lay my pet of 14 years and I felt like I just killed him myself. This shell of a dog lay before me and I’d never seen him be so still. I cried for two days after that. I still have his collar and his name tag on my keychain.

Even though there was so much pain with his passing, I would do it all over again because he was such a special dog. He wasn’t the perfect dog, nor the worst dog. He was my little Petey-boy, and he’ll always have a special place to me.

I told myself that I’d never get another dog, but I know eventually I will, because the joy of loving overshadows the pain of passing.

— Brynna from Rockford, IL