Peanut was the best and worst gift I had ever received. She was beautiful, and would change my life forever. So why could I only think about the day she will die?

Is it normal for new pet owners to think about their pet’s death? Not when they’re fifteen and on their way out, but as a puppy? The first time I looked into Peanut’s eyes, I wept. I knew that I would end up falling in love only to have my heart shattered before I was ever ready for it.

Peanut was a Golden Retriever. My daughter had named her for her peanut butter color. I always thought of it as, well, a gold rather than a creamy brown, but I guess children just see differently than we do. She was so small in our hands, and simply wanting to lick all of the salty sweat off our skin. Peanut’s parents were big but manageable. My wife picked this breeder because of the dogs’ size. She knew I would allow for a dog that was this size.

The first few months of owning Peanut were definitely a handful. I can’t believe I thought raising my baby daughter was tough. With babies, you just have to clean up all the time, which, if you’ve met my wife, we do on an hourly basis already. But Peanut was different. Her messes weren’t contained. I’d find pee on the wall by my bedside table, poop in corners of the house I had never been to. No pillow was safe where Peanut went around. That’s the problem with puppies, they can roam.

Peanut was a smart dog. So easy to train. I joked constantly that we had the smartest dog ever. She could win the Guinness World Record for smart dogs. I’m sure she could’ve been a graduate of Dog Harvard. She would go on to become her own veterinarian. My wife didn’t appreciate the jokes. They were made to make me laugh.

My work instituted a “dog allowance” policy. I could now bring my dog into the office. After that, she came everywhere with me. We were inseparable. Me, my daughter, and Peanut were the best of friends. Park trips, car rides, puppercinos, walks, runs, gatherings, and bedtime. I’d make sure Peanut always went to sleep with my daughter (I didn’t want her to know I was Peanut’s favorite).

It’s hard for children to appreciate dogs. When they’re young, they don’t recognize how short their lives are compared to ours. My daughter was 8 when we received Peanut. She didn’t comprehend the concept that by the time she was in her early 20’s, peanut would be gone. In her mind, Peanut would live forever. But I knew. I always knew. It’s why we did everything together. I wanted us all to have those kinds of memories.

Shortly after my daughter’s 14th birthday, her mother and I got a divorce. I thought we were the perfect, happy family. But I didn’t listen to her needs, always goofed off, made her feel invalidated, and a bunch of other stuff she screamed at me in the days, weeks, months prior. Her mother gained custody, but I was allowed visitation.

The days began to blur, only connected together by the days I was allowed to see my favorite two creatures in the world, my daughter and Peanut. They would come together, at least, at first. Soon enough, my daughter grew out of bringing Peanut everywhere. She was on her phone, did her schoolwork, hung out with her friends, and began to have a life. Peanut on the other hand would be at home, with her mother.

I never considered getting a new dog. The thought of raising it all by myself was a nightmare to me. I had no time, and frankly, no desire. I didn’t want the same thoughts to start all over again. I spent my days vying for my daughter’s attention.

After a while, I got myself a new girlfriend. I met her through friends at work. She helped me with my loneliness. She was my new joy. I thought about us growing old together and wasting away on a beach when we’re 80. It’s how I thought about my first wife when I had met her.

I finally got the call. So many events had passed, graduations, birthdays, and Christmas’. Peanut was dying. I met them at the vet to say goodbye. I wept. My favorite times were with Peanut.

This story was written by me in Emberville during a Circle about starting and ending a story with the same word: “Peanut”. I love writing challenges, so what are some other one’s you have heard of?

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