Christmas Day, 1993 I was blessed with the greatest gift I've ever received - true friendship and unconditional love. "Santa" delivered Courtney Puppy, just a month old, in the wee hours of the morning. When I awoke Christmas morning, she was at the bottom of the stairs, at the edge of the living room, crying. I sat down Indian style on the floor and she crawled in to my lap and instantly stopped crying. We were best friends ever since. She had made the journey down to Connecticut from Massachusetts. I was in 3rd grade - my teacher, Mrs. Neely, had told my parents that if I couldn't have a sibling, I should at least have a furry friend to love. And she became so much more. Every day after school, summer days and nights, I grew up with Courtney. She was part of every memory of my childhood. She was always there. Birthdays, holidays, first days of school, good days, bad days, every day - Courtney was there. She would sleep on my bed, she would sleep at my feet, she would curl up in my long hair, and she would sleep in the sun. Courtney loved everyone - our family, and anyone who entered our home. She loved the kids who came over for CCD, she loved my friends and she would play hide and seek with us. She protected us, too - she was a big dog in a little dog's body. She had her favorite window to look out of, and bark at any possible threats. Courtney got in to some trouble as a puppy, chewing magazines, or chewing my mom's underwear. She loved to chew! But she also loved to lick and gave lots of kisses. I remember when my grandparents came over to visit, they would sit on the couch and let Courtney lick their hands. She loved everyone so much. Courtney loved giving kisses, and she also loved getting her belly rubbed, and behind her ears too. When she was a puppy, we could talk to her and she would cock her head from side to side - she was the cutest little girl ever! My mom would take the most adorable pictures of her during the day, when I was at school. I loved seeing them - pictures of her on the stairs, pictures of her napping in the sun... Courtney was a great sport. She would let us dress her up and she was quite the talented model, always posing perfectly for pictures. We would dress her up in Halloween costumes - a tux, a bumble bee, a giraffe, an angel... Courtney loved going for rides in the car, and I remember my parents and I driving with her in my dad's MG to a car show. Courtney loved walking around and being outside. She even went to puppy kindergarten and enjoyed being around nice, big dogs. And despite many dogs not being very fond of their vet, Courtney was blessed with a very special angel - her vet, Dr. Andrea Autorino, who was so compassionate, kind, and loving toward her and us, especially on her final day. Andrea had also saved Courtney's life after Courtney had been attacked by a large German Shepherd - not once, but twice. Courtney was a little fighter, so brave and strong. You would not believe how much passion, personality, and life there was in this little girl. From my days at Highcrest Elementary School, to junior high, to high school, college, and beyond... Courtney was there from the time I was losing baby teeth, to the time I met my future husband in 2002, and in to adulthood. When I left for college, she knew. When we packed up the moving truck and were preparing to head off to Boston, it was the first time that Courtney jumped her gate. She had never been so agitated before - she just knew I was moving out! The longest we were ever separated, was for the 3 and a half months that I spent studying for a semester abroad, in Europe. I missed her so much and it was so great to be reunited when I returned home for Christmas that year, Christmas 2006. In the early part of 2007, my future husband Alex and I got our first real apartment together in Boston and Mom and Dad brought Courtney up to visit. I was so glad she was able to come up to Boston and see our apartment. She had her cozy mink bed and a red with leopard print trim jacket on. After college, and after several years of living in Boston, Alex and I moved back to Connecticut in the summer of 2009. Courtney was older now - almost 16 years old. She had lived so much life. She had been such an energetic puppy (It seemed as though she was a puppy for like 12 years or so!) Always running and jumping around (she could jump SO high!), she loved milk bone treats, pigs ears, and she especially loved her Bear. Now she was older, quieter, and didn't jump or "talk" much anymore. I lived just 10 minutes from my parent's house, and would go to visit her as much as I could. I just wanted to be with her and spend more time with her. After all, she had always been there for me - always. During the roughest, most challenging times of my childhood and young adult life, Courtney was there for all my tears and all of my smiles. She was my biggest comfort, my biggest joy, and when I would feel completely hopeless and lonely, she was always, always there to give my life meaning and love. In the fall of 2009, when I was at dance on Wednesday evening, Alex went to my parent's house and asked their permission to marry me. Of course they said yes. Courtney walked around the corner, entering the room, and my dad told her the news. Courtney approved. The night before my birthday, November 1, 2009, Alex proposed and we got engaged. The following day, November 2nd, was my 25th birthday. We went to dinner with my parents and went back to their house. Over the years, Courtney and I had so many pictures together - from when she entered my life at age 9, through age 25 (and those are some pretty important years, ages 9 through 25... a lot happens in life during those years, and she was there for it all), pictures of me with goofy toothed grins and braces, pictures playing with my Beanie Babies, pictures playing with friends, pictures after dance recitals and violin recitals, pictures on holidays, pictures on birthdays, pictures outside, pictures before prom, pictures during my college years, and on this night we took some of our final pictures together, me with my new engagement ring on, and Courtney and old girl, but still with so much love and devotion inside of her, so loyal to us always. A couple of weeks later, on November 14, 2009, it was Courtney's sweet 16. Something in me knew that this would be her final birthday. We had always celebrated her birthday when I was growing up, getting her doggie ice cream cakes from Praline's, and my mom would buy her birthday presents. We would have a little "party" for her and we video taped her opening her gifts and enjoying her cake. On this particular birthday, Alex and I had to go to a dinner for his uncle's birthday. After dinner, we went to my parent's house so I could be with Courtney. I laid my head on the ground right next to hers, and talked to her silently, my heart into hers. I told her how much I loved her and how grateful I was for her. I don't know what I did to deserve to be so greatly blessed with such an incredible, indescribable gift. To me, she truly was an angel and I can't imagine having gone through my childhood, being raised and growing up without her. I would be a different person without her. After that, Courtney became progressively weaker and was unable to eat. In her final weeks, I gave her an early Christmas present, unsure if she would make it to the holiday. I gave her a pink doggie snuggy, to keep her warm. I hand-fed her bits of bacon, which she had once loved. It was so difficult for her to eat even a tiny bit. Finally, on December 16th, 2009, just about a week before Christmas (of which it would have been our 16th anniversary of her coming in to our life), I spoke with Andrea, her vet, who told us the best and most loving thing that we could do for Courtney, would be to humanely put her down. That was the hardest, most difficult day of my life. I left work and I don't know how I was able to drive through the tears. I went home first, devastated, then to the vet. My mom was there with Courtney, just stroking her and being there with her. Courtney was in pain, and it was the first time she audibly cried in pain. It was as if all this time, she was keeping a "smile" on her face to ease our worries and concerns. She was so tough and really hung in there for us, as the selfless, loving creature she was. I sat in the small room with Courtney and my mom. I held her for a bit, but didn't want to hurt her, and let her lay on the table with a blanket. Then Alex arrived and joined us. Then we waited for my dad to get there from work. When my dad arrived, he held Courtney. He had been a great care taker to her. He was always waking up early with her to let her out, feed her, and take her out before bed time. He always gave her medicine and took her to the vet for check-up's. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, she was his little buddy. And all of the days I was in school - my mom would be home with her, taking pictures of her, dressing her up, buying her cute beds and jackets, sending me photos she took of her, taking her for pretty hair cuts, putting bows in her hair, taking her to a Halloween costume contest and to see the Easter Bunny... Courtney had touched us all. My mom pet her, my dad held her, and then it was time for all of us to say goodbye. We had some time alone with Courtney, and then Andrea came in and helped her and us, and we peacefully let her go. I held Courtney during her passing. I wanted her to know she wasn't alone. She was wearing her pink jacket, that she had gotten several years earlier. I took a lock of her hair, and Andrea took her paw print to give to us before she was cremated. Before Alex and I had left Boston in the spring/early summer of 2009, we had taken Courtney's picture to the "Blessing of the Animals" at our church, Old South. There, Elissa from our church, blessed "Courtney in Connecticut" and when she was cremated we had the "Blessing of the Animals" read for her. Andrea sent us a very compassionate, thoughtful hand-written letter. I am eternally grateful to her, and I mailed her a thank you card, thanking her for everything over the years, with a beautiful picture of Courtney inside. I have Courtney's hair and her collar with her picture near my bed, so that I can always say good morning and good night to her, still see her and still feel her hair and look at her. But the pain of never being able to have her here with me again, living life... it hurts so much. I know I seem to remember so much about the end of Courtney's life, since that was recent history, but the best things I should be remembering are all of the 16 years before she left this world for a better place. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of playing, so many happy times together. These are the times I need to remember, the happy times. Because Courtney would want that - she was such a happy, lovable little girl. Courtney was my world. My happiest memory of all, is one particular day in the later part of the summer of 2003. Alex and I had temporarily broken up that summer, and he came over to my house to talk to my parents and to try to work things out so that we could be together again. Then, the 5 of us - My Mom, Dad, Alex, Courtney, and me - all went for a nice car ride down to Harry's in Colchester. Courtney loved the car ride and she loved going outside once we got there. It was the perfect day. My only regret was that it had to end and I had to go to work that night at some stupid, meaningless, unimportant, high school part time job at Bennigan's. I wish that day would have never ended. It was so perfect. In my mind, that is a memory I will always cherish because it was one of the only times all 5 of us - me, along with the 4 people I loved most in the world, my parents, Courtney, and Alex - were all together, all happy, all getting along, with no problems or drama or issues. That was probably the happiest day of my life. The 4 people I loved most in the world, all happy and getting along under 1 roof, all in the car together. I could have stayed in that car forever. Courtney just wanted everyone to love each other and be happy, and that's all I want too. She brought everyone together and always lightened things up. She really was the light of my life! I truly believe that Courtney was an angel that God sent to look after me and be my companion growing up - and the timing of it all, with her leaving me just after getting engaged - it was as if her "duty" was complete, that she had accomplished her mission here on earth, and her role of protecting me and loving me and being there for me, was passed on, like she passed the torch to Alex, and she was able to peacefully leave this world knowing that I was in good hands. She held out until it was time and until she knew I'd be okay. Now I'm about to get married and wish more than anything that she was here. But I know she is still with me, even if I can't see her anymore. I am so happy she is not in pain, that she is not weak, that she can eat and run and jump and play, and I know she's waiting for me on the other side, and it's beautiful. And when I get there, it will be beautiful too. I will be so happy to be reunited with my best friend. For now, Courtney will come with me wherever I may go. I carry her in my heart now and always. She will always be with me, and I have faith that some day we will be together again. Courtney taught me so much about life, what REALLY matters in life, how to really love unconditionally, how to be loyal and true, to be fiery and full of personality (Courtney and I are both Scorpios and I always thought that she was me in dog form, or that I was her in human form - we were like the same person!), to love deeply and truly, and to forget about the stupid, unimportant things. Courtney knew what really mattered - the simple joys of life, of love, of family.. She really appreciated her time on earth, I could tell. Courtney was unique, too. She was bigger than a typical Yorkie and always did things her own way. She definitely had a mind of her own! After she passed, my dad told me that Courtney had a good life. She did...she enjoyed the sun, she enjoyed the grass, she enjoyed the wind, she enjoyed the snow, she enjoyed us. What I know for certain is that she gave US a great life, and so much love. We have a little memorial garden for her now in my parent's back yard with a little yorkie statue, some flowers, and a nice stone with her name and "Best Friends Forever" that I had done for Christmas this past year. We have her ashes and paw print, with the Rainbow Bridge card that her doctor sent us, next to my parent's bed, where she slept in her bed. She's still there. The little guardian angel collar-charm my mom had gotten her, to watch over her, is no longer on her collar but resting on her ashes. She was my angel on early, and she is our angel still now. We gave her so much love, but I think she gave us even more. I thank God because I know that He chose her especially for me. She came and went when it was time, and I am forever changed for having her in my life. We were so lucky to have you in our lives for 16 wonderful years, and you remain the greatest blessing of my life. I love you, forever and always, Courtney. It's eternal - Best Friends Forever, Love Always, Without End. Amen.|
Sunday, December 15, 2013: Hi Courtney! I've been thinking about you as always. It is the Christmas season and you were and always will be the greatest gift I've ever gotten. I love you so much! I'm home in CT visiting mom and dad, and I came across your Christmas picture and stocking. I love you and hope you are enjoying beautiful, peaceful, loving Heaven. Tomorrow will be your 4th anniversary there and I will be thinking of you as I always so. I love you always<3
Monday, April 21, 2014: Happy Spring, Courtney! All of the growth and rebirth reminds me how beautiful it must be in Heaven where you are. I love you so much and miss you every day. Thank you for always watching over Charlie and keeping the little guy healthy, safe, and out of trouble. He reminds me of you, and I know he is only here with us because of your inspiration and your soul touching us so deeply. You will always live on through your love. Lots of puppy licks and cuddles XOXO <3
Friday, November 14, 2014: Happy Birthday, Courtney!! I've been thinking of you all day and posted a photo on my Facebook page of you and me together on your FIRST birthday! You looked so bashful and had a cute bow in your hair as we sang Happy Birthday to you and gave you your puppy birthday ice cream cake with milk bones in it and a big #1 candle! I love you and miss you every day. Thank you for being with me still and watching over Charlie. XOXO <3 Best friends forever <3
Tuesday, December 16, 2014: Happy Anniversary in Heaven, Courtney! I know there's no time there but I'm thinking of you today like I do every day. I took your fur out last night and kissed it! I can't believe it's been 5 years without my best friend. I know you're still with me, though. Pope Francis said last week that all our animal friends are in God's kingdom and we will be together again one day :) I love you! It's almost the 21st anniversary of the best Christmas ever, when I got YOU! Merry Christmas, angel. I love you! XOXOXO
Monday, April 20, 2015: Happy Spring, Courtney Angel!! I miss you and love you. I talk to you every day and I love having your picture right next to my bed to look at you right before I fall asleep and as soon as I wake up :) You are so special to me! Thank you so much for continuing to watch over Charlie. I know you are in him. We are getting ready to move to a new place and I will be taking you with me, as I do everywhere I go. I hope you're loving life in Heaven. I love you! XOXO Love always and forever BFF!!
Sunday, October 25, 2015: Hi, Courtney!! Happy Fall! I have such wonderful memories with you from this time of year; running around the yard, in the leaves, and coming home to you after school. We would play in the afternoons and you loved when friends came over, or the kids for CCD. I loved playing hide and seek with you. You were always so smart! I love and miss you always. Your birthday is coming up! I have great memories of celebrating our birthdays, too..and Halloween! You always had the cutest costumes! You were amazing at posing for pictures. I can never get Charlie to stay still or pose like you! Thanks for all the memories and all the love. Love forever and always <3
Saturday, November 14, 2015: Happy Birthday, Courtney! I hope your birthday in Heaven is wonderful and amazing..the way I hope every day for you is! You are so special and we all miss you so much every day. You are thought of with so much love today and every day. Thank you for watching over us and Charlie. We love you forever and always, birthday girl. XOXOXOX best friends forever <3
Thursday, November 26, 2015: Happy Thanksgiving, Courtney!! I am so, so thankful for having you in my life. I'm thankful to have had you physically here with me for 16 years of love, and thankful for your presence still. You bring so much warmth and love and happy memories to me daily. You are always with me. Thank you for watching over Charlie, and mom and dad and me and Alex too. We all love you and miss you and know we will be together again. Remember one of our last thanksgivings together when mommy got you that little turkey-ish outfit? I have pictures of you in it. I love you so much. Thank you for being in my heart forever<3
Wednesday, December 16, 2015: Happy Anniversary in Heaven, Courtney. I cannot believe it's been 6 years since I last got to physically hold you! I miss you so much, every day. I hope you are loving Heaven and getting to run and jump and play and do all of your favorite things. You are so special to me and the sweetest soul I've ever known. Thank you so much for connecting us with Charlie and for watching over your little brother. You're in my heart with me everywhere I go, forever and always. I love you! <3
Friday, December 25, 2015: Merry Christmas, Courtney Puppy! 22 years ago you made me the happiest girl in the world when I walked downstairs and met you for the first time. I didn't know what to think at first, and you soon captured my heart and we've been best friends ever since. We miss you today and everyday, and talked about you at dinner. We all love you and you're always in our hearts. You were always there for me when I was sad and needed someone, and I suppose you still are! I hope Christmas in Heaven is the greatest celebration beyond our wildest imaginations. I love you, Angel!
Monday, April 4, 2016: Happy belated Easter, Courtney! It was a week ago (it came early this year) but I was thinking of you like I do every day. I remember Easter with you...I remember that year I got you that pink spikey ball. And the year we brought you to Glastonbury to see the Easter Bunny! And when I got Gameboy and you would bring me your bear while I was playing it. We had lots of fun playing together. You were the best companion a kid could have ever asked for. I love you to the moon and back! I know spring is even more beautiful in Heaven than it is on Earth, so I hope you are running and playing and loving it all. Best friends forever<3
Thursday April 28, 2016: Hi Courtney! I love you and miss you. I have dreams about you a lot and hope you are enjoying the beautiful spring in Heaven. Thank you for watching over Charlie while Alex and I are away. You are so special and I miss you so much! You are such a sweetie and gave so much love..you ARE love! And you are loved. XOXO<3
Monday, November 14, 2016: Happy happy birthday, Courtney!!!! You are 23 today! I miss you and love you so much. Celebrating Charlie's birthday 2 days earlier on November 12 is such a nice reminder for me of how much fun I always had celebrating your birthday every year. I loved when Mom and Dad got you doggy ice cream cakes from Pralines's (vanilla with milk bones!) and having you unwrap your presents. You are and always will be so special to me, and my bestest friend. I love you forever and hope you have a very Happy Birthday in Heaven. We love you, special girl!<3
Friday, December 16, 2016: Happy Anniversary in Heaven, Courtney. I miss you so much! I hope you are having fun celebrating in such a beautiful place. I miss your cuddles and kisses! I think of you every day and your spirit will live on forever. Love you always<3 XO
Tuesday, November 14, 2017: Happy 24th birthday, Courtney!! I love you and miss you every day, always. After several years in California, I am happy to be back home in CT. Wherever I've gone and wherever I may continue to go, you are always with me. Your little brother Charlie just turned 6. Thank you for watching over him and helping bring him into our lives. We'll have a new addition for you to watch after and snuggle with in the new year...baby Aiden is expected to join us in January. As he grows up he will know all about you! You are the sweetest soul I've ever known and I love you forever and always <3 XOXO