My dog, a cute, curly cockapoo puppy, recently had to be put down for cancer and old age. I knew that eventually the time would come, but I held up hope that it would be put off for a longer amount of time. If you have had a dog or loving pet before, you probably can understand that losing a pet is heartbreaking, because they become a part of the family.

It was tough, especially because I was at school and did not have enough time to come home to say goodbye. Luckily, I had just gotten home from spring break the night before it happened. I am very grateful that I had that week to snuggle with him as much as possible. Now that it's been a few days, I can accept that it was important for him to pass on, so that he would not have to suffer. Since then, I have enjoyed thinking back to all the time I had with my good boy.

Jake and I had a special connection. I like to think that he "picked me" out. When we went to look at puppies, all the puppies barked and jumped, but Jake was sitting and staring up at me. When I scooped him up, he fell asleep in my arms and I fell in love. My parents and brother couldn't convince me to hold let alone bring home any other dog.

I got him when I was only 9 years old, before 4th grade. It blows my mind when I think about that because it seems like we have had him forever. I was thinking about how even some of my best friends who I have spent all of middle school and high school with weren't friends with me when I got my dog. I never really thought about how long he has been a part of my family. He was there for the majority of my life. He was there for me through my transition to middle school, for summer vacations by the pool, for my high school graduation, and to greet me whenever I came home from college.

Honestly, we are so happy that he was able to live as long as he did. He struggled with back issues and my parents almost had to put him down a few years after we got him. He was paralyzed, but my parents decided to try a surgery first. Jake made it through the surgery and was able to walk again. He lived a pretty long life considering his conditions and I am so glad that he was able to enjoy a life with us for almost 11 years. What a tough little dog.

It will be strange to come home without an excited dog jumping up at the door as I open it. It will be weird to not have a dog at my feet begging for any possible food droppings. It will be unusual to see the crate, toys, leash, and dog bowls missing from our house. I will miss my dog following me around the house and sleeping on his bed next to mine.

I am so glad that my family decided to come home with a dog. He made our lives so much happier and fun. I will miss my first dog, but happy about all the memories and photos I have of growing up with him by my side. After dealing with the initial grief and sadness, I have been able to focus on how lucky I was to have Jake for so long.