“And I’ll take with me the memories to be my sunshine after the rain.”

— Boyz II Men


This weekend was heartbreaking for my family. Our dog, Stark, fell seriously ill very quickly, and Sunday night, he left us. The past few days have been very emotional as we learn to live without him.

However, I don’t want to write about his death. I want to write about his life. Stark was a dog we adopted from the local animal shelter back in Iowa in the summer of 2016. He was already fully grown and housebroken, which was such a bonus for us. What we discovered along the way, though, was how perfect he was for our family.

He was a dog full of love, very gentle and calm. The only times he would really get worked up was when the boys would playfully wrestle, or when I would do the same with Colin. Stark would get worked up, though more protective than aggressive, trying to protect Colin. Even though I was his person, his instinct was to protect my baby boy.

Over time (and not very much), Stark became my baby boy, too. When my husband worked overnights, Stark was there with me in the bed to keep me company. When I would come home for lunch, he was there with me. If I was lounging on the couch on a weekend morning, he jumped up there with me. His spot on the bed was right at my feet, which kept me so warm at night. I can’t even count how many times he would reach out his paw and place it on my shoulder, arm or hand like he was trying to hold onto me. To look into his eyes was to truly see love looking back.

There were also the silly moments. Shortly after we adopted Stark, we ordered a garbage can with a sensor on it to keep him out of the trash. He was smart enough to figure out how to open it by placing his nose above the sensor. One night, a glazed Brussels sprouts recipe did not go over well with the family. Lo and behold, I  walked into the kitchen to find him shoulder deep in the trash eating the wasted sprouts. The gastric fallout that night was horrible.

He loved Twizzlers and would go nuts anytime we had any out. He would often rub his lower back against the armchair and make funny noises. There was the time my son decided to wrap him in yarn and he just took it. When he had to wear a cone for a few days, it was very entertaining to watch him maneuver around the house.  Stark also often interrupted my workouts by coming up to me and giving me kisses or trying to cuddle. There was that one time, however, when I was doing yoga — including trying to do the proper breathing technique — when he farted in my face. There went my breathing. There are so many more that I will hold dear in my memories of him.

But most of all, Stark just loved. It radiated from every ounce of him. He quickly won over anyone who ever met him with his gentle ways. He was the best dog we could have ever asked for, and we were blessed to have him, if even for what felt like a short while. I will hold him in my heart forever, and I am honored to have been his person.