As much as I struggled to find the right title for this blog post, I know that I will likely struggle more writing it, as the tears are already welling up in my eyes just contemplating the topic.

Thankfully, this writing is actually a bit therapeutic for me.

Bosco was a Golden Retriever who had been with us for the past 8 and-a-half years, after spending his first two years with another family, who unfortunately went through a divorce. It was unfortunate for them, since they could not agree on who got to keep him, but very lucky for us.

Our kids were just 5 and 6 at the time, so it is no exaggeration to say that he has been a part of most of their childhood family memories, with the series of annual Christmas photos as a reminder of how they grew up as he grew old.

He had slowed down considerably over the years, but still seemed to be in decent health considering his sedentary lifestyle and his propensity to hang around the kitchen, you know, just in case some food happened to fall on the floor.

But on Wednesday this week, my wife was out of town and I was at an event downtown. The kids were at home with the pets (Bosco plus another dog and 3 cats), and things went bad unexpectedly and quickly.

My daughter texted me around 5 PM saying something was wrong with Bosco, so I called her to see what was up. Difficulty breathing, and inability to even stand up, hmmm, I thought, I better head home quickly.

By the time I got to my car not even 10 minutes later, she texted me to say that she feared the worst. I got home and sadly realized that she was right. Sad enough to have an old friend pass away, but sadder still that it happened in front of my kids, without their parents there.

My son helped me load him into the car for one final trip to the vet, where we said goodbye one last time, and we both cried all the way home.

After sleeping on it a few nights, I am very thankful for the quickness with which he scheduled his ultimate departure, if not the exact timing. How many stories have you heard about people whose pets get sick, and they then have to make choices between expensive veterinary procedures and letting nature take its course.

I will now try to carefully draw a parallel between the case of a pet and that of a parent. I say “carefully” because I recall an instance when my aunt passed away, and my father suggested to her widower husband that he get a dog.

Dad was making what he felt was a constructive suggestion to help his brother-in-law through some of the grief and loneliness, but I know that some people took it wrongly, as if he was suggesting that my aunt could be “replaced” by a dog.

The story I wish to convey is about my Dad, and how he left us relatively early, yet not so quickly as to leave us scrambling.

My mother recently related to me that when she and my Dad used to go and visit his mother during her long battle with Alzheimers, on the drive home, Dad always said to her, “If I ever get like that, please shoot me”.

The cancer saved us from having to go through that, and Bosco’s passing, also likely from cancer, saved us a lot of tough times and extra heartache.

And the title for this blog? I borrowed it from my 13-year-old daughter’s Facebook post about the loss of her “old friend”.

Sometimes sad events allow us to appreciate how quickly our kids have matured while we were paying attention to other things.

Goodbye Bosco. It is better to have loved you and lost you, than to never have loved you at all.