The last days of anything are usually stressful.

The last days before you move.

The last days at an old job.

The last days as a single person.

Even the last days before a child.

But nothing compares to the last days before the end. The real end.

Nearly seven years ago, I welcomed this small, black baby giant into my life that would forever change me. In the last 6+ years, she’s shown me friendship, gratitude and how caring for something more than yourself truly works, even before Jovi came around.

Through it all, we have battled torsion, which nearly took her life at six months old, a terrible gastrointestinal system, a tail we had to cut more than a foot off of and life changes that affected us both…but the one thing that remained constant was us.

Together.

Maike has been family to me. At 125 pounds and nearly the length of a couch, Maike has been part of me. Anyone that knows me knows about her. Knows the pics, the stories, the laughs…and now…the tears.

Quickly, last weekend, things changed. From the dog that is a nut, to one that had her head down, her energy gone and her usually huge appetite non-existent.

After doing tests, bloodwork and the rest, we found that Maike has spleen cancer.

Heart dropped.

And let’s be honest, you know me, tears came. I mean, this is my pal. She’s the one that walks off steam with me when days have been rough. She gives that loud yawn when I walk through the door, letting me know she’s ready to roll. She’s the one I dodge while cutting grass.

Yeah, it’s a silly game we play, but it’s fun nonetheless.

Finally, she’s the one, when storms hit, sneaks right into the bed, puts her head to my legs and seeks refuge.

She’s another part of Jovi as well. She has always known Maike. And when she’s not home, Maike always finds a way to sneak in her room and sleep, being close to her even when she is away.

So today, a decision had to be made. Prolong life for my benefit, or let her go out with dignity.

Did I mention that life can sometimes suck?

As I prepared to make yet another decision, I promised her I would continue to do what I have done for nearly seven years, put her first. What would she have me to do?

Maike isn’t herself. And she doesn’t deserve to walk through the rest of her life living on meds and hope that I can squeeze another day out of her. Honor her at the end as much as I have in life.

The last days are hard. Counting down the hours, the moments, the minutes, until life ends, things change, tears well and memories are what is left. Where the only thing to remind are the pictures in my phone, memories in my heart and stories from my mouth.

Sitting in that back room, with tears streaming/flooding down my face, I said my final goodbyes. But even more, I said thank you. Thanks for being a rock for me, for being unfailing and for being my closest friend. We did a lot of life together and had a lot of great times.

I didn’t fully grasp that until I got home. I sat on my front porch for 15 minutes, afraid to open that door, afraid to realize that behind that door was nothing. Even more tears. I can’t imagine what the neighbors walking down the street thought.

But losing Maike is more than just losing an animal. Maike was a part of me. A part of anyone that got to meet her. I’ve been amazed at the amount of text messages that have flooded my phone from people that truly loved her.

Now that’s a good life.