Saying goodbye to my best friend


Photo courtesy of Hartill.

Thomas Hartill, Former Editor in Chief

This previously ran in our February 2022 print issue.
Feb. 14 would have been his 13th birthday. He would have been 13 years old. That’s nearly three quarters of my entire life.

I was just five when I first saw that scared little puppy hiding behind his owner’s legs. It was me, my dad, and my sister who were there to pick him up. I think my mom was working (I can’t say for sure), but she certainly was not a fan of the idea. Of course she eventually ended up being the one to give him the most attention, but that’s beside the point.

When we got there, every single other puppy came running straight for us, sniffing our legs and tripping over each other like a tsunami of fluffy excitement. Yet, one of them couldn’t have been more scared. We would eventually name him Sulley (yes, after the Monsters Inc. character), but I don’t believe he had a name at the time. By the time we got to the car, he was already lodging himself underneath the driver’s seat out of fear. He was so small that he was barely even as big as the width of the middle seat. Granted, I was a whole lot smaller then too.

But, just like everyone else, we got older, we both got a whole lot bigger, and we watched each other grow up without even realizing it. He managed to watch me finish 11 grades of school, even if he wasn’t there to watch me finish the last. He watched me learn how to drive, how to parallel park, and even how to tie a tie. 

At the same time, I was lucky enough to witness him figuring out everything to love in life. I watched him beg us for sticks of butter from the fridge, I watched him jump up and down whenever we said “walk,” and I watched him sprint faster than anything I had ever seen each time we came home from vacation.

But of course, it wasn’t all perfect for him. Even if he spent most of his time with my mom, thunder and fireworks always sent him running straight for my room with his tail tucked between his legs. And anytime he heard the water running for a bath, he ran away from us at all costs.

For the past couple of months however, it was clear he was no longer the healthy dog he always had been. After a couple days of strange behavior and a visit to the vet, it seemed like he had begun to develop strokes. I’m not quite sure why it happened, but needless to say it was difficult to watch. With the help of steroids he was able to recover from some, but once they kept coming it was easy to see this was a temporary solution to a more serious problem.

After about a month, we realized what needed to happen. Even though he was barely able to walk, on his last day he was able to see the park one final time and eat one last cup of whipped cream. I like to think he enjoyed it.

If I’m being totally honest, I have no lesson to teach here, nor any morals to illuminate. I don’t even really know what’s compelling me to write this. It hurts to have to acknowledge that he’s gone, but writing also somehow makes his life feel even more real.

But anyway, I don’t want to bore everyone with the minutiae of my inner dialogue. I just want everyone to know that his name was Sulley and he was my best friend and the greatest dog I could have ever asked for.