HEART: A Patchwork Heart by G Ackman

Word Count 499
A Patchwork Heart
by G Ackman

Of course my heart is broken.  One cannot love without risking a broken heart.  I can’t even count on both hands the number of times my heart has been broken, but I can vividly recall the utter anguish that accompanies it.  And yet, I would not go back and not experience that empty ache because then I would not have had the love that went before the tumult.  
One of my first heartbreaks was Missy.  She was a rectangle of a dachshund, her over-fondness for pancakes evident in her dragging belly.  She was a patient soul and my childhood companion.  She let me dress her up, bandage her up, and she could sit up for an hour (mostly because her hind end was a perfect square).  Missy loved to play hide and seek, and the opening of the closet door was her siren call.  She eagerly walked in, turned around, and faced the door.  After shutting the door and trying to trick her with various cabinets being opened and chairs moved, I would release Missy and in an ecstasy of exploration, she would search diligently until she found her ball.  Missy left me after I left home, but her loss was tangible.
Next was Brandy, my four-legged psychiatrist.  Her patient brown eyes saw everything, judged nothing, and loved unconditionally.  I nursed her through parvo and paralysis and our bond was unbreakable, in spite of the ravages of time and circumstance.  Alzheimer’s invaded her brain and her body weakened, but her soul was pure to the end.
Then there was Izzy, my best friend.  His goofy expression, all-over spots, and mismatched eyes could always make me smile.  He was a psychotic mess, the poster child for separation anxiety, but in our presence, he was a faithful, loyal friend.  He trotted at my side, tethered only by love and devotion.  His body failed him and I cradled his head as we helped him cross the Bridge.
Now I have Oscar and Harry.  Oscar is my perpetual toddler, a dynamo of energy one moment and sound asleep the next.  Cradled in my arms, Oscar’s huge brown eyes reflect the trust he has in me.  This is a huge gift, as coming from a puppy mill, Oscar’s trust is not given easily or lightly.  Harry is my shadow, a quiet follower of few demands.  His love is hard-won, but once given, it is given completely.  Far too soon, these two will also leave me.
Each of these dogs has been more than “just a dog” and their passing in and out of my life has affected me profoundly.  When they left, they took a piece of my heart, that’s for sure, but they also gave me a piece of theirs to hold forever.  My heart is a patchwork quilt of the dogs who have peopled my life.  Yes it hurts when their time is done and they leave, but then, they are never really gone as long as they live in my heart.

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