As Anatole French once said, "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." On Memorial Day of this year, I had to say goodbye to my puppy sister Bailey Jo, who was diagnosed with lymphoma at just 7 years old. Even though it has been two weeks to the day I am writing this, I am still absolutely heartbroken, and I doubt I will ever truly get over such a devastating loss, especially because she was so happy and thriving up until the last weekend or so of her life.

Denial

When I had first heard of Bailey's diagnosis, I was in complete shock as up until then I had believed it to be impossible for such a young and overall healthy dog to receive news such as this. I did not want to believe that it was a possibility that I would lose my baby sister in just a few shot weeks, and I came up with excuse after excuse as to why she couldn't be sick, and it had to be something much more minor. Even in those last few days, I was convinced that she would bounce back to her usual lively self.

Anger

I blamed everyone. I blamed the veterinarian for not getting back to us with biopsy results (although now we know what the true illness was) I was mad at my parents for not telling me right away what was happening to her (now I understand they wanted me to finish out my second semester of college undistracted). But mostly, I was mad at myself. I kept thinking how I shouldn't have moved away to school this past year, how I cold have taken her for more walks, how I could have been a better human to her, and how I should have somehow known what was going on from the start.

Bargaining

On the morning we took her to the vet, I wanted to keep her home as long as I could, hoping that she would have some sort of miraculous recovery, but by that time she hadn't eaten in a couple days and could barely walk without becoming too tired. I knew deep down it was her time to go, but I couldn't bring myself to accept it.

Depression

That week after that was a blur. I spent most of my time sitting at home alone without my best friend with me, and it was the most painful week of my life. I would stall in the mornings so I wouldn't have to go downstairs where she had always waited for me on the couch, I would avoid leaving my house so I wouldn't have to come home to an empty one that didn't have Bailey there to greet me as I walked in. Every corner of my house holds a memory with her, and I couldn't bear to walk past the spot where she would lay in the sun during the day, or where she first lived in her house when we brought her home when she was only a few weeks old.

Acceptance?

I don't think anyone can really accept the fact that they have lost their beloved pet, and I am certainly not an exception. As time has gone by I have started to feel better, and I can remember all of the times that Bailey and I were able to have together and smile because she truly was the best dog I have ever met and I am blessed to have had her in my life.