Almost a year ago, we lost our dog, Frank. He was with us for almost six years, which in the life of a Labrador, or any dog for that matter, is just not enough time. He was the stereotypical lab – hard-headed, dopey, lovable, loyal, and devoted to his family.
Frank took a special liking to “his kids.” When my first was born, Frank instantly embraced his role as a big brother. He hung close when I would be up all hours of the night with her and kept a close eye on her as she grew up, started to crawl, and then took off running around the house.
When we welcomed our second daughter two years later, Frank knew the drill. He came with me to the nursery for the middle of the night feedings and kept watch over my toddler, knowing my hands were fuller than they had been. Frank let the girls crawl all over him, dress him up with their finest accessories, and loved to snuggle close during the rare quiet moments in a house of small kids.
In 2020, when we were all stuck at home for the foreseeable future, we decided it was a good idea to expand our family again, but this time by adding another puppy. Norman came along, and Frank, though sometimes annoyed by his new shadow, stepped right up as the leader of the pack and taught Norm the ways of the world.
We lost Frank about three months after welcoming our third daughter. Frank assumed his role by my side during those last three months like clockwork. He never tired of the girl’s constant noise and high energy. He knew that he would always get a head scratch and a treat, so the best place to be was close to them.
I always felt safe when Frank was around. He had an intimidating presence, though he would never hurt a soul – unless you were the bumblebees he would chase in the summer months. Unfortunately, sometimes catching one resulting in a swollen lip and a nice Benadryl nap for the afternoon. Frank had a deep and powerful bark, one we had never heard until the girls were born. He quickly made loving friends with all the people he met, and they would see that he was a puddle of love who wanted nothing more than to protect and be with his people.
Frank was the girl’s first experience with death outside of a Disney movie, and I’ll admit I was unprepared and nervous how we would navigate it.
Not being of a religious background, we hadn’t yet had conversations about how we would explain such big and intangible ideas to the girls, so this was a total trial by fire.
We wanted the girls to know how much Frank loved them and how he would always be a part of their childhood and their memories. My oldest made a connection between losing Frank and a scene from one of their favorite movies, Princess and the Frog. In the movie, Ray the firefly is in love with Evangeline – a star that he believes to be the most beautiful bug he has ever seen. Like Evangeline, Frank is now our star in the sky, watching over us and seeing all the fun my girls continue to have.
I am so thankful we had our good boy for the six short years we did.
He led with his heart, and it is wild to me how, almost 12 months later, we still talk about him almost daily. Frank taught all of us to enjoy the simple things in life – a fresh tennis ball, an afternoon walk, or a dip in the ocean. The love of a dog is something that sticks with us forever. Frank will always be our star, following us through life, along for the adventure.