The Beach - Minnesota 

Hey my sweet boy. I’m at our beach. The rocky one where no one went but us. The sky is darkening, daylight folding into night. The stars sparkle, faraway diamonds arranged in constellations. Stories immortalized. Yours is up there. 


Staring up into the heavens, I wonder what you’re up to now. I don’t have to wonder for too long, though, because I know you’re on a beach like this, splashing in the water and doing your tippy toe dance. Swimming. Fetching sticks. There’s none of that nasty arthritis or old dog stiffness holding you back. Afterward, you’ll curl up into a big plush blanket and fall asleep, recharging so you can wake up and do it all over again. 

It’s been a little over a year since you passed, and while your absence has certainly left a cavern in my heart, I feel grateful more than anything. Grateful to have loved you, and for you to have loved me. 

There was nothing we wouldn't have done for each other. From the day I rescued you from that trunk in Grenada, we were bonded. Just eleven pounds at six months old, you were all skin and bones and being trained as a fighter dog. But I could see the only fighting you did was for your life, the way they beat up on you.  

What was a poor undergrad to do but empty her bank account and give the man my entire $450 savings, only to discover that dogs weren’t allowed on the bus. We walked back. And then I borrowed fifty dollars from a friend and we lived on canned tuna for a week. 

It was worth it. I would do it all over again if it meant that, on the other side of it all, I would have a companion like you. 

Loyal. Protective. Loving. 

You taught me so much about dog ownership and personal sacrifice for the beings that come into your life. I knew that because of the trauma in your past, you trusted me and only me. Therefore, I vowed early on that as a vet, I would do everything possible for you myself, from removing the cancer in your eye to, when the dreaded day came, ensuring you had not only a peaceful passing, but that the last day of your life was an Orion Day. 

Those were my favorite days. Yours too, I bet. We were old school, plotting our grand adventure on a map. Packing water and snacks and driving for hours just to go to the middle of nowhere and explore. It almost always involved a beach, of course, so you could fetch and retrieve.

Our last Orion Day began with a photoshoot at your favorite greenhouse. You got to smell all the plants and revel in the warmth and the sunlight streaming in through the glass. Looking back, you being from Grenada and me being from Barbados…moving to snowy Minnesota may not have been our brightest idea. Okay, that was all me. But we still had fun, right? 

Next, we went to the car wash—again, your favorite. Then to the pet store. We got a pup cup from Starbucks, and headed out to the beach for hours of swimming and fetching. Finally, I bought you a feast of chicken after that, administered the meds for you to fall asleep. 

That day—as difficult and heart wrenching as it was—was a gift for both of us. You were so chill the entire time, even in the car. You just watched the world go by out the window and it was just really nice to see. My last memories of you were so, so good. 

Euthanasia and peaceful passings are something that I, as a veterinarian, think about all the time. Unfortunately, it’s part of everyday life. Therefore, I knew pretty early on that I would one day have a diamond made from your ashes. 

Do you know why Orion is my favorite constellation? It’s because of its innate ability to keep me grounded. Throughout all of my travels from the Caribbean to Europe to the United States, I always know that if I can see Orion in my country and my family can see it in theirs, we’re connected. 

Your diamond shines as brilliantly as those stars. I chose a yellow stone, amber like your eyes. It’s flawless and beautiful, a perfect representation of your soul that you so generously shared with me. I designed the pendant myself. The “O” is for Orion, of course, and the star means that you will always be my brightest star. 

Until our next grand adventure, my sweet boy.