My heart remains very heavy after the profound loss of my beloved Chow, Chelsea, on August 22, 2009. My best friend for the last nine years, I still struggle through each day trying to cope with the fact that she is no longer with me. She remains in my heart and in my thoughts, as she always will, yet I miss looking into her beautiful eyes and the feel of her soft, black fur.
I have been blessed that dogs have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember: Each one unique and special, leaving me with everlasting memories. In fact, it was Venus, also a black Chow, rescued from the streets and loved dearly for four years, who ignited my passion for this amazing breed. Though I have loved each and every one of my dogs, my almost-spiritual bond with Chelsea stands apart.
At a time in my life when I was facing divorce and the painful decision to allow my husband to retain custody of our two dogs, a divine force led me to Chelsea. I just happened to walk by a local pet supply store, where she was tied outside following an adoption event that left her, still, without a home. While I was in no position to adopt a dog, as soon as I saw her, I knew. I loved her instantly. I pleaded with her chaperone to allow me to take her that day, but abiding by the rules, I was required to fill out an adoption request and schedule a time later in the week to meet Chelsea in order to determine if we would be a suitable match.
The kind woman who was caring for Chelsea had a house full of homeless animals she had committed to fostering, and with no room left at the inn, Chelsea was sent to a supply yard (aka “junk yard”), owned by her husband. It was in September of 2000, although it seems like only yesterday. The lot was filled with old cars and equipment, and I did not see any signs of Chelsea as I called out her name, “Chelsea, here Chelsea.” Then, out from under a tractor-trailer, appeared the beautiful black Chow, eyes filled with hope, despite her desperate surroundings. She was chained to the truck bed and I approached cautiously. Chelsea did not bark or growl at me, only slightly wagged her tail as I knelt before her and offered my hand. From this point forward, Chelsea and I were unbreakable.
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I was so fortunate to have Chelsea’s presence in my life. I honestly believe I would have succumbed to the depression that resulted from the trials of my life, had it not been for her enduring love and companionship. How many nights I cried, face buried in her thick fur, as she offered her love without judgment. On the days when I could not bring myself to leave my bed, she faithfully stayed by my side. It was my love for Chelsea, and her love for me, that kept me afloat. Yes, there were the usual diversions—work, family, friends—but my relationship with Chelsea was the joy, happiness and inspiration that made my life worth living.
I’m sure there are many stories similar to mine, of people who have shared an unusually strong bond with their dogs. I know I am not alone in my grief, as others must feel the same emptiness that I feel, over the loss of their beloved companions. I do have a light in my darkness; his name is Leo. He is a golden Chow that I adopted four years ago, who knew and loved Chelsea, and watched over her in her golden years. He waited patiently while I devoted myself to caring for her as we neared the end, and he has lent his fur for me to cry in as I mourn the loss of my Chelsea girl. Someday, I know, the thought of Chelsea will bring a smile instead of a stream of tears. I know she is watching over me still, and I know that someday, we will meet again, never to be apart. Until then, thank you, Chelsea, for sharing your life with me, I love you more than you will ever know.