Raika, you were special the day you were born. Always there. Always willing. Always giving more than I ever expected or hoped for. Always by my side – watching me. Waiting. For so many years, I loved you for all that you gave to me.

Then it was time for you to retire and we were stuck, not sure how to spend our time together without a goal to reach or a competition to focus on. I fed you too much and played too little, ignoring the fact that what you really wanted was my attention. 

So we began to walk, and that’s when I began to truly appreciate you for who you were rather than for what you could do. I watched you being a dog and I marveled at what that was – to be a dog. I began to share you with the world so others could marvel along with me. And I loved you a little more than before.

Then age and illness slowed you down and our lives took yet another turn. Our walks became less about exploring the world and more about being together. Quiet daily rituals that wound around our days. And still, my heart found even more love.

Today, for the first time since you were born, there is nothing more. You have nothing to show me. Nothing to take. Nothing to share. You’ve given me everything you have to give and taken from this life all that you could hold. You’re so tired. Raika, I can see you’re so tired. And because I have loved you as much as you have loved me, I am listening. 

Remember those molecules you promised me? The ones we talked about a few years ago? Don’t forget, because I will need them more than you could possibly imagine.

I cannot think about tomorrow but today, because I love you the most that I have ever loved you, I’ve let you go. 

Raika 05/24/04 – 10/15/19