Man’s Best Friend :: Our Best Friend

Man’s Best Friend :: Our Best Friend

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” -Rodger A. Caras

I was never much of a dog person. Growing up, we never had many pets at home besides a few stray cats every now and then and a fish that I accidentally dropped down the sink after a week as I was trying to clean his bowl (I still feel bad for sweet Pepper the fish!) I always thought dogs were cute and I would admire them from afar however, I never had the desire to have a dog of my own – until I met my husband.

He was the dog person. He always had dogs growing up and I remember how much he loved those animals. I still remember his oldest dog, Patches, who passed away at sixteen years old. She was so smart and sweet- she could snatch a cheeseburger from you before you had a chance to blink and even knew how to open doors in the house by propping herself up with one paw and using the other paw to turn the knob! It was amazing. 

After my husband and I got our first home together, he suggested we get a dog. I still remember thinking how messy and time consuming that would be. I would have to constantly clean up after it and would be tasked with all of the responsibilities that come along with having a pet while trying to work full time and finish my college degree.

I did NOT want a dog- until we found Westley. Or as we like to say- until he found us.

My husband suggested we get a Westie Puppy (short for West-Highland White Terrier). I knew nothing about these dogs until my husband informed me they were the adorable white and fluffy dogs on the Cesar dog food commercials. That adorable little white fur ball?! Of course we needed a Westie Puppy. That same day we found a breeder a few towns away from us who had some available. The second we drove up, this adorable white ball of fur walked right up to us and the owner at the time informed us that she had nicknamed him “fat boy” because all he liked to do was eat. I knew in that exact moment he was ours! We took him home that day and after much debate decided on his name- Westley the Westie. Little did I know what Westley would come to mean to our family or how much he would change our lives. 

Man's Best Friend :: Our Best Friend

Westley quickly became our baby. He slept in the middle of us every night, shared snacks with us (especially Oreos which were always his favorite), came on long drives with us, and was always waiting to greet us at the door when we got home. He was the most laid back yet playful animal I had ever seen. He was a part of our family and loved us unconditionally despite the times we had to fuss him for pooping under the bed or eating items out of the trash can. Westley didn’t care- he loved us anyway. That’s the magical thing about dogs- they will give you the most pure and honest type of love especially when you need it the most. 

I thought we loved Westley but there is nothing that compares to the relationship that he had with our daughter, Rylie.

Man's Best Friend :: Our Best Friend

From the moment we brought her home from the hospital and he licked her little feet that stuck out of her pink blanket, it was love at first sight. He quickly became her protector and was right there with us for every midnight feeding, every three hour colic screaming fest, and every noise, laugh, or even sound she would make- Westley was there. They became best friends as she would strategically drop perfectly sized portions of her food for him or cover up for him and take the blame when he did something he wasn’t supposed to. They spent every waking moment together playing with his favorite orange hedgehog toy or laying with her underneath her covers to watch tv and have his belly rubbed. Their bond was like nothing I had ever seen and she always went to him for comfort in her times of sadness. It was the most beautiful example of pure love I have ever witnessed. 

Man's Best Friend :: Our Best Friend

When our son Nathan came along, Westley looked after him in the same way he did with Rylie. However, Nathan was more rambunctious and free spirited than Rylie was. He loved having a dog but preferred to pull his ears and tail rather than softly rub him like Rylie would. Even though Westley loved Nathan, Rylie was his person. 

Man's Best Friend :: Our Best Friend

Anything that happened in our lives, good or bad, Westley was there. Every memory of our lives together include him whether it was a joyful moment, or a moment filled with sadness. I remember having a miscarriage right before having my son Nathan. I remember shutting myself off from the world and not wanting to see or speak to a single person because I was filled with so much anger and grief. I remember Westley laying there with me as I sobbed uncontrollably; his little head perched on my belly and his paw on my hand. He didn’t move or whimper or beg me to play with him. He just laid there with me because he knew in that moment, that is exactly what I needed. 

Man's Best Friend :: Our Best Friend

This past June, Westley got sick. He began throwing up sporadically, which sadly, was not out of the ordinary for him as he always suffered with horrible stomach related problems. We had countless emergency vet visits throughout his life because of some type of problem with his stomach. However, this time was different. Two emergency vet visits and a week at his normal vet and our sweet fur baby of thirteen years would not get better. Finally, after bringing him to a bigger facility they informed us of what we prayed was not true- he had intestinal cancer that had rapidly spread throughout his body. The cancerous mass was causing a blockage in his intestines which made him unable to take in or keep down any type of food or water. Surgery was not an option as they would have had to remove other major organs to get to the mass and there was no guarantee he would even have a quality of life if he did survive the surgery. Unfortunately, we knew the difficult decision we had to make. 

We were completely and utterly devastated. How could we live a life without Westley?

How would we come home to an empty house everyday without hearing his feet running on the floor to greet us? How would we have a life without Westley being a part of it? Worst of all, how would we explain this to our children- to our Rylie. Sitting down with our children and telling them that their best friend was not coming home was one of the most difficult things my husband and I have ever had to do. Man's Best Friend :: Our Best FriendMy daughter insisted on coming with us to tell him goodbye because she felt like it was something she had to do- she wanted to say goodbye to her best friend. Westley was lethargic and had not moved much or even picked up his head in days but the second my daughter walked into that room and he heard her voice- he picked up his head and began to lick her face. I will never forget that moment- it’s like he knew it was his time and he had to tell her goodbye. 

Westley was more than just a dog- he was our happy place. Our stealer of the pillows, our Oreo snacker, our cuddle buddy, and most of all- our best friend. He changed our lives for the better and we were so blessed to call him ours for the thirteen years of his life. Man's Best Friend :: Our Best FriendWe have never known a love as true and pure as the love he gave our family, and we will never be the same without him. We love you Westley, and thank you for coming into our lives when we needed you the most. We will never forget you.

This post is dedicated to anyone who has ever lost a pet. I know what you are going through and I pray that you remember how blessed you were to be given the type of unconditional love that we were given from our Westley. 

Lacie Soileau
Lacie Soileau is a Louisiana Native originally from Ville Platte. She went to UL Lafayette and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. She then went on to earn her Teaching Certification at Louisiana College in Pineville as well as a Master’s Degree in Teaching. She also recently completed her Educational Leadership Certification. She has been in education for ten years and is currently a Third Grade Teacher at Milton Elementary School. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 12 years and together they have 2 children – Rylie who is 10 going on 16 and Nathan who is 6 and is our little energizer bunny!. Lacie loves to read, write, shop and exercise! One of her favorite things about living in Lafayette is all of the delicious food! Her favorite things are coffee, any type of spicy food, and spending time with her husband and kids!

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