When Love Is Not Enough: The Story of Cowboy Hank JR

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A couple months ago, I wrote a short story titled “The Life of Lola”.  It was about my fur-baby who has been my companion for eight years.  It was a story of love, hope, and healing.  As I finished up the story, I decided I wanted to write about each of my babies.  I wanted to write them all the story of their life and then find the perfect time to publish them as a way for me to hold on to each of them forever.

Little did I know life had other plans.

Let me back up five years.

February 15, 2009, my sister asked if me and husby would take her  to look at a litter of Shorky’s (shih tzu/yorkie). See her fur-baby had just passed away and my brother in law worked out of state, and she was lonely.  She was looking for a new companion.

At that time, we had Lola.  She was my dog, my protector.  We really wasn’t looking for another fur-baby.  Our life was busy, we were constantly on the go with kid activities.

Once we were there,  this cute little ball of fur kept climbing in my lap.  He was absolutely adorable.  And he had eyes that would make you melt.  I looked at my husby and he knew. That ball of fur was coming home.

Home is where he came.  Where he slept in a basket in my room, where Lola treated him like her long lost son, where he soon stole the hearts of each one of us.  And his name became Cowboy Hank JR.

I’m not sure why dogs hold such a special place in my heart.  Often times I feel they understand the over- emotional person that I am better than a human.  They sense a deep connection I feel for them and they feel for me.  I look into their eyes and I see their soul, their heart, their purpose.

Yes, I do believe each dog has a purpose.  They are each here for a companion.  They are meant to help a lost soul find their way, whatever that may be.

Cowboy arrived into my life right as a storm was headed my way.  My family was getting ready to experience rough waters that we had never experienced before.  Cowboy, you could say, was my lifeline.

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See, when we are experiencing tough times, it is human nature to let it consume us.  But if we have something or someone to focus on, it takes some of the struggle of our life away. We look away from the negativity on our own life to find positive purpose in something else. Cowboy was my purpose. A way to redirect my pain away from me and turn it into a positive experience.

Just like Lola, Cowboy became my protector.  He loved me in a way that he loved no one else.  I guess he knew I would always take care of him, just the same as he took care of me.

Cowboy loved Lola with a passion.  As he got a little bigger he would not leave her side.  He followed her around, he had to sleep in the same kennel with her at night, and no way was he letting her leave anywhere without him.  They were best friends til the end.

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Cowboy loved to come to my room with me and lay beside me on the bed, or crawl under the bed and sleep.  He had such a sweet heart, but he also had such an ornery side.  He hated cats, and it was his life goal to chase everyone of them away.  He also made sure everyone knew he controlled the food bowl. (:  No one ate until Cowboy approved it!

And oh how he loved to snuggle.  And his sweet, sweet kisses.

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My love for Cowboy ran deep.  Maybe it was because he was only five weeks old when we brought him home, or maybe it was because he picked me to be his companion, I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s because his love help pull me out of dark depression on days when No one else could reach me. All I know is he held a special place in my heart that will last a lifetime.

Earlier this year, Cowboy got sick.  I took him to the vet and was told he had bronchitis.  After a round of treatment, he seemed to be better. But a month later and he was sick again.  Back to Dr Shane we went. This time we tried a new treatment but they didn’t seem to work much. A few weeks later, we were back in the office, but this time the medications didn’t affect Cowboy at all.

I knew that morning, last Wednesday, when I got up that his time was ending soon.

I called the vet one more time and they told me to bring him right in.  I told my kiddos to tell him bye, that at his was probably not going to end the way we wanted.  I made sure Cowboy told Lola bye, little did Lola know she would never see him again.

Dr Shane wanted to run tests.  He called me later to explain that Cowboy’s heart was enlarged and he prayed he would respond to the medication.  He wanted to keep him over night, I think more for my benefit so Cowboy wouldn’t die at home.  The next morning I got the call I most dreaded.  He didn’t make it.  

I knew.  

I had awoke in the night and knew right away he was gone.  So I sat in the dark and prayed.  Prayed for peace. Prayed for understanding.  Prayed for reassurance that Cowboy was in no more pain.

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I made the decision to have him cremated.  I needed my baby to be home.  I couldn’t bear the thought of never having him close to me again. He was always with me through every laugh and every tear and I needed him to remain beside me. I owed Cowboy that much.

Arrangements were made, and then it was time to tell the kids.  They took it better than I expected. Maybe because I had prepared them, but mainly I think they knew they had to be strong for me.  They knew I would take it extremely hard, which I did.

I sat alone in my room for several hours, as tears streamed down my face.  There was nothing left for me to do. And even though I knew I needed to hug my other fur-babies a little tighter that day, I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of my pain, out of the darkness.

My husby called me from work to see how I was doing. He told me to take the kids to the water park, to relax, to let the sun shine on my face, to not think for a few hours.

I sat at the waterpark that afternoon and cried.  I cried for me, I cried for Cowboy, I cried for Lola.  As I looked up I saw a cloud that was shaped as a fluffy dog with a curly tail and I cried even harder knowing he was telling me he was okay.  

Later that day, as I cried some more, a little butterfly decided to land on my hand and sit there.  It didn’t move, it just watched me.  Again I know that was Cowboy’s way of letting me know it was okay to let go.  

I watched as the little butterfly flew off my hand, only to come back once more, as to say, “Are you sure you will be okay?”, then it was gone again.

This past week has been so hard. I have experienced so many emotions. Sadness that I would not see him again in this life, grateful for being his human, angry for him leaving me, guilt for not doing more to help him and happiness knowing he is running free at the a Rainbow Bridge waiting for me. Many tears have been shed, many prayers have been prayed, many memories have replayed in my mind.

Some might say, he was just a dog.  I would say  no, he was family.  He knew me and my moods better than my closet family or friends.  He knew when I needed a kiss, or a snuggle or just company as I lay in my room.

See, when you have the love of a dog like I do, you experience a pure and innocent love.  There is no judgment, no grudges just plain love and adoration.  And that is exactly what I received with Cowboy,  and for that I will forever be grateful he chose me.

I told Dr Shane, the day Cowboy left me, all I wanted was to bring my Cowboy home. When my love was not enough to keep him with me here on this Earth,I just needed to bring him home with me forever.

And today he came home to stay.

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Last Night

I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.

I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.

I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,

“It’s me, I haven’t left you, I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,

You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.

I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.

I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.

I want to re-assure you, that I’m not lying there.

I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.

I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said ” it’s me.”

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.

I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.

It’s possible for me, to be so near you everyday.

To say to you with certainty, “I never went away.”

You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew…

In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is over… I smile and watch you yawning

and say “good-night, God bless, I’ll see you in the morning.”

And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,

I’ll rush across to greet you and we’ll stand, side by side.

I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.

Be patient, live your journey out…then come home to be with me.

Author Unknown

*Please Adopt, Don’t Shop and donate to your local rescues and shelters

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4 thoughts on “When Love Is Not Enough: The Story of Cowboy Hank JR

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