In the summer of 2008 Kate and I were in Taiwan on vacation. On a last minute whim we decided to stop by an animal shelter and in the blink of an eye we adopted Meeko. At the shelter they called him “Wanshong”, which means raccoon in Chinese (I thought it would be fitting to name him after the raccoon from Pocahontas).
I really believed I knew what the risks were in adopting a full-grown shelter dog and that I was ready. Papers signed, ticket punched and just like that he was on a plane flight to the US.
Later I realized how immature and unprepared I was.
From the start I didn’t accept his behavior and mannerisms. I’m ashamed to admit that I was pretty cruel to him, frustrated he didn’t act the way I wanted and angry that my attempts to “fix” him just didn’t work.
They say the world is a mirror that looks right back at you. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Meeko was that mirror for me. He made me realize my own faults and all the things I hated about myself. Suffice it to say, I didn’t take it well.
He was an outcast, rejected and misunderstood by the world. In these similarities I eventually came to understand we were one and the same.
And I finally was able to see what a great mutt he was. If I wasn’t so stubborn I might have come to this realization faster. These last few years with Meeko were some of the most fulfilling of my entire life.
This last year of his life wasn’t without its challenges. For those who don’t know, he had a stroke in January and was diagnosed with advanced kidney failure and liver problems. This meant his entire lifestyle had to be overhauled and we literally had no idea how much longer he was going to survive.
Hours of research to find the perfect raw food recipe for him and a host of daily supplements to support him. Forcing supplements down his throat when he stopped taking them with food. Taking him out every few hours because of more frequent accidents.
Sometimes I hated doing these things. Life is busy enough and these activities were so time-consuming. Yet as I sit here I would gladly sacrifice another year of my life doing these things for him every day (As a side note, I have so much more appreciation for what nurses do).
I’ll treasure every minute you gave me this past year and though it was heartbreaking to see your health deteriorate, I appreciate you for being a fighter and holding on the best you could. If I had a regret it would just be that had I known how much you would suffer these last few days I would have made the decision to let you go sooner.
But I don’t want to end on a negative note. This entire 8 ½ year journey we had together was the greatest learning experience of my life. You taught me patience, love and that you have to accept life and people for who they are. You are the greatest teacher I have ever had.
If "you" made it this far, I thank you for taking the time out of your day to read about him. The only thing I ask of you is to join me in not mourning his life but celebrating his story.
Meeko, you saw the worst in me and the best in me and accepted all of it. Through all the hardships and great times, thanks for always being at my side. Thank you for the joy you brought to our home. Life is going to be different but my love for you will always be the same. I hope you know how much I loved you and that you carry those feelings with you into your next life.
My dear friend I miss you already.
May you rest peacefully.