On Valentine’s Day evening, my son and I received devastating news: My son’s long-time “best bud” dog friend, Tidus, one of three golden retrievers who belong to my two dearest, closest friends from high school, died suddenly that morning. My friends told me that Tidus and his two companions, Zoey and Spotty, were out playing in their backyard, running around joyfully in the snow and acting like the happy dogs they always have been. My friend’s husband pulled into their driveway, got out, watched as Tidus, Zoey and Spotty raced toward him as each have done hundreds and hundreds of times.
Tidus never made it. He just simply dropped to the ground.
My friends’ vet stated Tidus’s death most likely caused by an aneurysm or blood clot that burst.
Tidus was 10 years old.
Even though Tidus wasn’t our dog, my son and Tidus developed a very special boy/dog bond. He’s known Tidus since he was very young (my son is nearly 13) and the two of them were pretty much joined at the hip every time we went to visit. It was evident to everyone the unconditional love that flowed between my son and Tidus.
Tidus had a silky smooth, beautifully colored auburn hair. His coat was always shiny and unmatted, as were my friends’ other dogs and animals my son and I came to love over the years. My best friends and their kids take incredible care of all their pets – they are genuine animal lovers, and their care, kindness and unconditional love toward their pets – members of their family - is and always has been evident.
Whenever we went to visit, Tidus would head right for my son as soon as he walked in the door. My son would plop down on the couch, and Tidus would nudge my son’s hand just so some part of my son was touching him. Tidus would look longingly at my son with his “love me, pet me, need me” hangdog face. Tidus had that kind of loving, kind, and gentle happy dog face.
Sometimes the exchange between them was comical because my son would be trying to eat or drink something from a glass, and there was Tidus, up in my son’s face, just trying to get as close as possible to him. Tidus always wanted to have some physical contact with my son – and vice versa -- when they were together. It was that kind of bond.
I remember one visit when my son went outside and began jumping on the trampoline in my friends’ backyard. Tidus jumped right up with him. My son’s laughter – that special tinkling musical kind of sheer delight laughter -- could be heard for miles. It was the kind of laughter reserved for those moments between a boy and a dog who is loved bigger than the universe.
When I told my son of Tidus’s death, he deflated like a pricked balloon. His face crumbled like falling plaster, his shoulders slumped over like a hundred year old man. He fell into my arms, crying out his grief and sadness in great big gasping breaths. I was choked up with my own sadness, but watching my son experience overwhelming grief -- something he’s never experienced in his young life -- was more painful to me than anything I’ve ever felt. My protective instincts kicked into high gear, and my arms tightened around him. I had to reign in my emotions and focus solely on providing immediate comfort to my son. As he cried, I felt his pain piercing every piece of my own broken heart.
Tidus may not have lived with us, but the bond between my son and this dog was absolutely, undeniably evident each and every time they were together.
February 16th marks the 15th anniversary of the death of my beloved wolf hybrid, Nakita. He died in my arms that day. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. But enough time has passed that I can talk about him without shedding tears. But on Thursday, that long ago grief washed over me all over again, and it came in quadruple waves because my own son was now experiencing the loss of his beloved best dog friend.
Dogs – all of our pets -- give us unconditional love. They are family. They expect nothing from us. There are no terms, no conditions, and no expectations to their love. They simply love us just because.
Tidus’s death will stay with my son forever. But in time, he will be able to look at the pictures he has of Tidus and not fall apart. In time, he will be able to talk about Tidus and all the special moments they had together without a torrent of tears.
But time will never erase the unconditional love that was shared between my son and Tidus. We are so blessed that my best friends’ shared Tidus with us all these years. He was an incredibly sweet, loving dog and he is already missed so very much.
Rest in peace, Tidus.