She was just a Frenchie, just a little ball of fine hair and big eyes. Her name was Minerva. She waddled, as French bulldogs are wont to do, and she grunted with each step, sounding like a little pig – which often made me laugh.

Minerva was built like a tank. She was broad-chested with a low, sloping head and thick little legs. If she was scared, she would roll onto her back and open her eyes wide as if she were starring in a slasher film and the killer was upon her. Once, while she was looking up at me while walking and not paying attention, she fell into a trap door that led into our crawlspace, grunting all the way down in surprise. She was fine, but I almost died of laughter.

The little piggie Frenchie, Minerva – well….she got cancer.

We tried all the drugs we could try. They gave us one of those timelines. She would start to get sicker by this amount of time, her quality of life would start to decline by this amount of time. We did our best for Minerva, but soon she didn’t even want to eat anymore, which was her favorite thing in the world. She’d held on a year longer than they’d said she would, which was something.

My wife at the time called me while I was at work. “We’re going to put Minerva to sleep today. We’re going to do it when you get here.”

In that sense, I felt like an angel of death. I took my time getting there. I felt like I was a cold wind rushing toward her little frame that would steal the breath from her lungs and leave a shell of our pet behind. I didn’t like that.

When I arrived, we said our goodbyes and I just silently wept and pet her head and rubbed her belly. The sun was out, though it was fall or nearing fall, and we brought her out on the grass in a little blanket. I was no longer weeping silently, but sobbing. Minerva tried to comfort me by nuzzling my hand, which made it worse.

The vet explained to me what would happen. Two injections. She flinched a bit at the first one, and then when the second one came….that’s when I felt as if I were punched in the stomach by a hard, balled fist. Minerva tightened and grunted and looked straight into my eyes. In fear.

In her last moments, she had known fear and she had looked to me to help her with what was happening to her body, and I could do nothing. Though we all surrounded her, she died in fear…her heart stopping, her big eyes fixed on me, her bowels releasing and creating a sweet and sick smell.

A week later, our other dog – a pitbull mix named Sadie, died of cancer as well. She died on the table in the vet clinic before I could get there. She was my wife’s dog and best friend for years before I met her, but she was a good dog and I loved her. I cried for a few hours, petting her corpse on the table and sobbing into her fur, kissing her repeatedly.

I used to think I would never own another pet. I lost another dog – Ludo – in the divorce from the wife I mentioned above, and I just thought that owning a pet was too painful, too devastating on my soul when it would eventually be taken away. But here I am, married again, with a new wife and a new dog – a five pound teacup chihuahua named Brewtus.

Love can be hard, especially the love you have for a pet. Their inevitable passing is sad, and it’s not easy to overcome – but all the small moments you get with them are worth, I hope, the eventual pain. Their love is unconditional and pure, and worth every penny of hardship and sorrow. Embrace the happiness.