Every day I walk past reminders that my dog is no longer with us. His doggy toothbrush next to mine. His hairbrush on the floor, which I had used on him the night before. I felt pangs of guilt every time I walked past his empty water bowl, so I refilled it. His sweatshirt still smells like him — he wore it all day that day because it was cold. His toys are everywhere — we had played for so long that evening, he sure loves to play. We’re just not ready to put away his stuff yet. It’s not time to move on. Not yet.

The last toy we played with.

As I walk through the house, I see him everywhere, doing the things he used to do. I see him on the couch, between the cushions, yawning when he sees me. I see his smushed little face, his soft hair, and I just want to dig my face into his ears, like I always do. I want to smell his oatmeal shampoo, his stinky ass breath, and whatever dead grass is stuck to his body from our backyard.

At first, I resisted these temptations. He’s no longer here, there’s no use. I felt defeated, hopeless. He’d been in my life for eight years — that’s eight years of him following me to every room, lying next to me. Eight years of belly rubs and cuddles, taken away from me in just one night. My body’s not used to him not being here. Not yet.

But now, I just give in to what my body wants. If I see him there on the couch, I lie down with my head next to his, pat him a few times, tell him that I love him, and then carry on with my day, just like I’ve always done. And even though I can’t feel him physically, I just close my eyes and pretend. It’s helped make that hole in my heart feel a bit smaller.

The memories of my dog are still strong at the moment, but I fear that they will inevitably fade as I learn to adjust to his absence. I’m thankful for Apple’s Live Photos, which has captured short glimpses of every photo I’ve taken of him in recent months. Just being able to see him blink has helped my body emotionally.

I’m also thankful for Google Photos, which has backed up every photo I’ve taken of him through three iPhones, with unlimited storage (for free!) so that I’ve never had to think twice about which photos I wanted to keep. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Google Photos website and app the last few days and I’m so thankful to my past self for having taken so many pictures of him.

If you have loved ones, I recommend you capture lots of videos of them. It might feel silly or obsessive at times, but maybe one day your future self will thank you.

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