I have always had a dog in my life for as long as I can remember.  It seemed like having a dog was a staple in my upbringing. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I purchased a dog breed that I specifically sought out and wanted for myself.  I had met several Beagles over the years, and there was something special about that breed that I loved.  I searched online for a female, full blooded, tri-color Beagle for weeks.  I lined up a few breeders to check out one weekend.  The first stop had multiple puppies jumping all over the place and I just didn’t have a good feeling.  The next stop was a home in the country.  In a cage, was a tiny little tricolor Beagle.  She was the last one left of the litter. I knew it when I saw her, that she was the one for me.   Lilli became my everything, and went through moves, some brutal relationships, and instability up until I bought a home in 2008.  We stopped moving so much, and life became pretty stable for us except for romantic relationships.  Lilli always had high hopes when I would date someone new, that she would get a daddy.  Then, in 2014 my prince charming finally entered our lives.  He just so happened to be in the military.  My Beagle adored him and this handsome man adored her from the start.

A few years later, we married, and sold my home.  This moved us on post for a short time.  Lilli loved the nature walks all around post. She also loved the fact that my husband was so close that he could come home throughout the day to check on her. She didn’t spend her whole day alone like she did during our bachelorette days. A few months later, we bought a home with a few acres of land that would allow our Lilli to run free in the country and enjoy the unleashed life.  It was a dream come true for all of us, until Lilli became sick.  Little did we know that her health was slowly deteriorating. We had a lump removed and thought we were on the up and up, but her health continued to get worse.    Then, a few months later, we lost a baby during my eighth week of pregnancy.  My sweet Beagle girl never left my side and even let me cry on her several times. She would follow me to the bathroom in the middle of the night and wait patiently to make sure I was okay. Three months later, after her 13th birthday, we lost her. More lumps began appearing, her appetite began to diminish, and her breathing became rapid. We had to let her go due to spleen cancer that had metastasized. It was extremely hard to say goodbye, but we knew it was for the best.   She was more than just a pet. She was my child, my best friend, and my protector.  I was devastated. After a week without her, I couldn’t bear the silence in our home.

lilli smile

Lilli 4/16/04-5/22/17

For the first time in my life, I was faced with the fact that a dog no longer existed in my world. I never felt alone with my Beagle by my side.  When my husband left for trainings and such, she was my companion, protection, and comfort. I quickly thought of all of his upcoming trainings and possible deployments, and I just couldn’t imagine how I could get through any of those times apart without a fur friend by my side. So, the first thing I did was contact the breeder of my late Beagle.  Unfortunately, none of her bloodline existed.  So we were forced to start over, and I began feverishly looking for a Beagle puppy all over again.  We found a tiny brown and white Beagle puppy and decided it was best to start over again. She has brought laughter and joy back into our home and our hearts. The unshakeable grief we have been dealt has diminished slightly with this new fur baby to brighten up our lives.

Why does a military spouse need a dog?  For comfort during the times in this life that bring you to your knees.  They’ll be there to make you smile and lick your tears.  For the times when you are sick, a dog will snuggle beside and comfort you as best as they can.  For the times that you don’t want to get out of your bed, a dog will get you up and out and maybe even enjoying the great outdoors.   For the times when your heart aches for your husband, your dog will show you unconditional love and the companionship you long for. If you do not have any children or you’re having trouble conceiving, a dog is forever your child and needs you.  They never grow up and move away. Dogs always listen, never complain, and simply just share their love with us. A dog is a must have for military spouses and the best friend we all so desperately need.

Daizi by Jenny

Photo taken by Paradigm Shift Studios

© Wendi and Strength 4 Spouses, 2017.

How has your dog helped you through military life?  Please share in the comments.