A year ago, Jeff said goodbye to his best friend. Now it is time to share the story. 

It's been almost a year now, and of all things a simple phone message set off my memory of that day.

I held Cletus tight to me and told him he was the best good friend that I had ever had. I told him that I loved him. These were the last words I would ever say to him. I told him out loud, as if he knew exactly what I was saying I  Thank you for all of the joy you had brought to us, your pack, our family. I am grateful for all of the love and the admiration that he had given me. No other person, activity, event, occasion, being or thought had ever made me feel as loved unconditionally as much as he had. We were practically inseparable his whole life. He was the most loyal and faithful companion I had ever known.Thru tears, and I think maybe even a snort, I told him that I loved him. He looked at me with eyes that seemed to be confused and understanding at the same time.

The doctor asked if we were ready, and I saw the tears in her eyes, and I realized what a great dog he had been. He touched the hearts and souls of every person that ever met him. Cletus put his head against me as I spoke softly to him. I'm really not sure, but I think I repeated "good boy" a few times. The Doctor gave him the injection and the medicines flowed into him and almost immediately he relaxed into my chest and he slowly lowered his head onto my right arm. I looked back on his old and tired body, and I saw a tear drop from the doctor's eye and splash on to the exam room table. I repeated to him "I love you" as he drifted away, but when I felt his life leave all I could say was, "I am sorry."

The doctor left the room to give me a little time with him, and I wailed. I have cried for many reasons in my life, but for Cletus it was a wail. I felt it start deep in me, and I could hear the echo as I bawled my eyes out still holding his body to me. After a few minutes he was ready to go to the back. I lifted his limp body, and carried him thru the doctor's door to the back of the clinic, where the staff were busy tending to their duties, and they all stopped. I don't think there was a dry eye anywhere, and I remember feeling comfort in that for some strange reason. My friend Ben that runs the clinic with his wife, Dr. Stacy, put his hand on my right shoulder, and I knew that he was going to take very good care of my friend. They delivered his ashes to me a week later in a really nice box that I now keep on the fireplace mantle. When it is my time to go, I will take his remains with me.

Thirteen years my best good friend...but family forever.

Cletus was more than a good dog, or even a friend... In my life, Cletus was Love.