The sentence above says it all.
But to understand exactly how much of a part Ejy played in my life…
I invite you to read his story.
Nothing held back.
Table of contents
- When my dog died, a part of me died
- I badly needed something to get me through this dark period.
- Little did I know what was about to happen.
- My heart was devastated…
- I didn’t want what happened with Alex to happen to another pup.
- That wasn’t meant to happen…
- Her next words made my perfect world crumble in seconds…
- But then, something unexpected happened.
- They asked me a shocking question.
- I swallowed my pain and signed.
- My hope has returned only to be taken away again.
- I started getting flashbacks:
- I missed my dog so much that it hurt
- How I survived after my dog past away
- 5 things I learned from Ejy
- Final words
Quick note: This article was written by the previous owner of this website.
When my dog died, a part of me died
Ejy became my best friend in 2011 while I was last year in high school.
The reason why I got Ejy was that I was feeling lonely. I was an outsider in school.
Back at the time, I lived with my parents, and they fought a lot. There was screaming, throwing stuff, and exchanging a whole lot of nasty words in the process.
My home environment made me anxious. This showed in my behavior and the overall way I carried myself. So it wasn’t long before my schoolmates picked it up and started picking on me.
I’m not gonna lie…
It was tough.
And despite all the pain, insecurities, and sadness…
I realized I had a whole lot of love to give.
But I didn’t have anyone to give it to.
In the mental state I was in, I couldn’t have possibly thought of having a boyfriend. Let alone sustain a relationship of that kind.
Back then I felt reluctant to trust people due to some negative experiences.
However, I didn’t want all that love and affection to go to waste.
So my mind started looking for opportunities.
And then it dawned on me:
I would have loved to have a dog.
Not because other people had dogs.
Or because it was a trend.
Or anything of the sort.
I decided on a dog because I’ve wanted one ever since I was in primary school.
And in 2011, my last year in high school I felt so demotivated. And even depressed.
I badly needed something to get me through this dark period.
To give me hope. Without judgment and with plenty of unconditional love.
My Dad would have never given in. But after hours of begging my Mom to listen and understand, I somehow convinced her we should get a dog.
And so we went to a pet shop in the center of my hometown.
Now, before you think…
“What?! Are you crazy, Petya? You know how many dogs are in shelters in need of a home?!”
I want you to understand something.
I couldn’t have adopted a dog.
How am I so sure?
Let me tell you a brief story.
In the summer of 2009, I went with my Mum to our villa in the province for 2 weeks.
To our surprise, we found a mother dog and her litter of 9 pups in our garden shed!
Back then it seemed to me like the best vacation ever. Fluffy puppies that I could take care of. A dream come true!
Little did I know what was about to happen.
The 2 weeks passed almost in an instant.
And it was time for us to go back to the big city.
But there was only one problem…
We couldn’t take all of the pups.
And honestly, even though I liked and cared for all of them…
I had bonded with one in particular.
I named him Alex.
Mum and I would sometimes take him for a walk to the forest (our villa was next to it).
And whenever he would walk in front of us, he’d turn his head to see if we were coming along.
I was impressed with how smart he was.
And my only hope was that my parents will take him home.
Because my Mum also liked him and he was in need of a home, right?
My parents refused.
What happened to all the puppies?
We took them in a big carton box.
And my Dad set them free in a garden in the nearest town.
Except for Alex and another one that kept him company.
That was a year after Facebook had started becoming known (note: not popular) in Bulgaria.
And so neither my parents nor I had access to Facebook groups about adoption, rehoming, foster homes, etc.
My heart was devastated…
Not knowing what the fate of these innocent puppies would be.
My Dad took only Alex and one more pup to Sofia, our city.
Dad worked at a place with a big yard where it was allowed to have dogs.
He put the 2 pups there and gave them food and water, until…
One day both of them disappeared.
This broke my heart.
I felt as if I’ve betrayed my dearest friend.
The possibilities of what could have happened to him and his sibling ate me alive day after day…
Did they escape and get lost?
Did they get hit by a car?
Were they stolen by the minorities that lived near the area (gypsies that would at times act mischievous)?
Were the two dogs about to spend the rest of their lives being tethered?!
These questions plague me to this very day whenever I think of Alex.
And I can’t help but give way to my tears whenever I speak of this.
The funny thing is I hate crying in front of others, no matter how close to me.
But why am I telling you this?
Because I knew that…
I didn’t want what happened with Alex to happen to another pup.
And the only way I’d get my parents to get and keep a dog was if they paid for it.
You see, they have earned their money with hard work.
So I was sure they wouldn’t put a dog they gave money for on the streets.
And that’s how Mum and I ended up in the pet shop.
I remember it as if it were yesterday…
We stood in front of 2 tempered glass kennels.
In one of them was a Jack Russell – a bundle of energy waiting to explode.
In the other, there was a Mini Spitz-Pomeranian mix that I mistakenly took for a Chow-Chow in the beginning.
And, being crazy for extra fluffy dogs, I immediately looked in that direction.
Meanwhile, the Jack Russel was throwing himself at the glass wall.
Much like a fish out of water.
Trying to get our attention.
But I only had eyes for the dog who barely took any interest in me.
I asked the ladies from the pet store if we could take him.
While they agreed and took him out, one of them cried her eyes out, calling him “Spitzi”…
At the sight of this farewell, my Mum and I couldn’t help but feel awkward and even sad for the ladies who were gonna miss “Spitzi”…
One of the women said, “Pass by the store so we could see him sometime.”
“Take care of him with a lot of love.”, the other added.
I said “yes”, although the pet store was quite far from our apartment and we didn’t have a car.
And felt guilty as I knew I wouldn’t be passing by.
For the other prompt, however, I was 1001% sure, I’d keep my promise.
We took the small 4-month dog on the bus with us. He was shaking like a leaf…
It was autumn, but that wasn’t the reason. The fact that he didn’t know where we were taking him was.
I cuddled him and started talking to him softly.
After we brought the dog to our apartment.
When my Dad came home…
All hell broke loose.
“You call that a dog?!”, he said, raising his voice.
Meanwhile, Ejy hid under one of our cupboards.
I felt so bad…
I wanted to give him a loving home, yet, at the same time, my dog was greeted by anger.
“How dare you make such a decision without asking me?”, my Dad yelled.
“We knew that if we would, you wouldn’t have agreed. We wanted to.”, my Mum said.
If only my Dad could see the bright side of things.
If only he would understand how much better he would feel with a dog around…
That wasn’t meant to happen…
Not that very day at least.
Luckily, as days and months went by, the whole family warmed up to Ejy.
At some point, my Dad loved him so much that he got used to asking:
“Where is Ejy? Bring him to my room.”
That became almost a daily routine.
Whenever Dad would come home from work, the first thing he’d ask about was Ejy.
Then they’d spend time together.
Ejy lying by his side.
And later on, on his bed, the both of them snoozing.
With the years passing by we all found ourselves being closer.
And feeling much more content.
I used to call Ejy “the sun of the house.”
And he not only did behave like one – being cheerful and energetic.
But he also looked like a sun.
He had this little round head.
And the fur around it reminded me of sunbeams, as depicted in children’s books.
Everything seemed to be going well until December 2017…
I was out with friends and asked Mum to take care of Ejy.
I had an amazing evening.
It was a reunion with a friend who lived in London and a few others who lived abroad. They were home for Christmas, and we were all so happy to gather and catch up.
While I was coming home, passing by the nearby restaurant next to my parents’ block…
I thought how perfect this evening was.
It was snowing.
The lanterns on the street were shedding light on branches covered in snow.
The restaurant looked like a forest hut taken out straight from a fairytale.
I opened the door of my parents’ apartment.
The lights were on, but there was something off…
It was silent.
I saw my Mum, sitting on the couch with a devastated expression.
“Where is Ejy?”, I asked, puzzled that he hadn’t yet greeted me.
Her next words made my perfect world crumble in seconds…
“In the hospital.”, she replied.
“WHAT?! What happened?”, I heard myself scream on the verge of hysteria.
She explained that while she was walking Ejy, there were a bunch of leashed dogs hanging out together.
There was a huge one, and he seemed to be getting along with the smaller ones just fine.
So my Mum passed the dogs at not too big of a distance.
And that’s when it happened…
The big dog turned around and bit Ejy…
Ejy’s blood started flowing rapidly…
My Mum panicked.
She felt like a deer in the headlights.
The only thing she could do at the moment…
Was dial my Dad’s number with her fingers covered in blood.
And ask him to come to pick her up immediately, so they could take Ejy to the emergency care.
And so he was admitted to the 24-hour animal hospital.
As to the guy whose dog bit him…
The man never offered any help.
He fled the scene immediately.
Not caring about the shock, pain, worry, and expenses he has caused to the poor 50-year-old woman and her family.
I would lie if I say I didn’t fantasize about him getting what he deserved.
I hoped he would be miserable and alone, and feel the horrible pain we did.
Unfortunately, we could never find him.
We asked around.
Walked around the neighborhood, trying to spot him.
But it seemed like he had disappeared.
Regardless, what was most important was that Ejy gets better.
And he did, slowly.
He couldn’t walk the stairs after he got home (we lived on the 5th floor).
So we carried him up and down.
Always put a jacket on him so he wouldn’t be cold.
Months passed, and he seemed to be his usual self.
Fast-forward to September 2019:
I was about to spend a free day with my partner and Ejy.
At that time my partner and I lived near the dog park in Sofia.
So we were planning to have an autumn picnic on the grass, as the weather was sunny and warm.
But then, something unexpected happened.
A few months ago, Ejy had started coughing occasionally.
When we were at the vet’s, they’d check Ejy’s temperature, but everything seemed fine.
So we thought that it was something that will pass.
That day, we had packed the picnic basket and were just about to head out when it happened…
Ejy started coughing uncontrollably.
This lasted for a few minutes, and we had no doubt a vet visit was a must.
So we rushed to the nearby vet.
Ejy couldn’t even walk.
I remember a kid holding his Mum by the hand passing us by.
The kid couldn’t take his eyes off Ejy and asked “Mum, what’s wrong with that dog?”
The Mum was in a hurry but tried to reply considerately:
“Nothing, he just coughing. He’ll be alright.”
Oh, how I wished I’d believe her white lie as her kid did…
Once we entered the vet’s, we explained what was up.
The vets gave Ejy an injection to soothe the coughing.
But they advised us to go to the biggest animal hospital in the city.
And to do an X-Ray, since it was the only place in town with one.
But before we went out…
They asked me a shocking question.
“Has this dog ever been kicked from the back?”
My eyes became as big as pancakes after hearing this.
“WHAT?! No.”, I exclaimed.
I think I asked them why they’d assume such a thing and even though they gave me an answer, it’s all foggy in my mind.
Later on, upon speaking with a specialist from the 24-animal clinic, I understood what they meant.
“Your dog has Diaphragmatic Hernia and is in need of an urgent operation.”, the doctor said after looking at the X-Ray results.
“Excuse me?”, I muttered.
“Normally, the diaphragm acts as a barrier between the abdominal organs and the ones in the chest.
When it’s torn, as in Ejy’s case, the abdominal organs start moving up to the chest and pressing the ones there.
This is causing pressure on the lungs, hence he has difficulty breathing.
This must have happened after the big dog injured him.
As a result, Ejy’s abdominal and chest organs are now ingrown and must be split up in order for him to survive.
This is a very complicated and delicate procedure.
And the operation is his last chance to live.
However, I can’t promise you anything.
The chances he has for survival are 50%-50%.
Actually, it’s a miracle this dog managed to survive this long with that condition.”
My jaw dropped.
My eyes watered.
I didn’t know what to say.
The doctor must have seen such reactions way too much, so he just said:
“I’ll give you a few minutes to think about it. Here are the documents you must sign if you opt-in for the operation. But you must decide now. I’ll give you a few minutes to go through them.”
With that, he left the room.
“If the chances of survival are so little, isn’t it better to let him go? He suffered enough…”, I told my boyfriend with tears rolling down my cheeks.
“We must give it our all. Let’s opt in for the operation.”
The doctor walked in shortly and told me I can sign the documents.
Tears fell down on the paper as I read something along the lines of:
“By signing this document you acknowledge that no operation is 100% safe and may lead to death.”
And something about being unable to hold the clinic or doctors accountable if that happens…
I swallowed my pain and signed.
After the operation was done, there was a 24-hour waiting period.
These were the critical 24 hours that determined whether the patient would live.
The time spent without Ejy felt like an eternity.
I was stressed, couldn’t sleep well, and had plenty of nightmares.
When my Mum called me to tell me the results I nearly jumped out of joy.
Ejy had made it and was ready to return home!
But I didn’t know that…
My hope has returned only to be taken away again.
Ejy returned to my parents’ house. As they were home full-time.
However, my Mum noticed he had incontinence…
This wasn’t typical for him.
So she started observing him closely and cleaning the accidents.
However, on the very same day he returned, it became evident something was wrong.
So my parents returned Ejy to the clinic.
The vets were about to examine him and see what was up.
We expected that this would be fixed rather easily as the hardest part – the operation and 24 hours after it had passed.
However, after Ejy spent a second night at the clinic, my Mum called me.
I could hear the grief in her voice.
“He’s gone.”, she said on the verge of bursting into tears.
“What happened?”, I asked.
“They said that after the operation the pancreas was damaged for good.”
It’s not clear whether it was a doctor’s mistake.
Or if the pancreas has been damaged due to other factors.
But it basically meant Ejy could no longer drink water properly.
Or relieve himself as he should.
So the only option was to put him to sleep.
Realizing that we’d lost him, I couldn’t contain myself anymore.
Both I and Mum started crying over the phone.
The operation cost me a monthly salary.
But that didn’t bother me.
What did, though, was the fact that Ejy suffered.
I started getting flashbacks:
I recalled going to visit him after the operation.
His tiny body – shaved…
His legs shaking.
Me trying to walk him into the garden of the clinic.
Crying my eyes out as I was looking at a shadow of Ejy’s former self…
Ejy being in a crate at the pet hospital.
With an intravenous catheter…
I was close to fainting after seeing his wound.
And no, I’m not exaggerating.
Whenever I would see Ejy hurt, I had this weird physical reaction I’d never experienced before.
My eyesight would go completely black.
Imagine one of the old TVs…
Which screen would start going black.
And shrink each color into a tiny circle until the colors disappear and nothing but darkness is left.
Then I’d feel dizzy and need a wall to lean on.
Or a chair.
I guess I just couldn’t bear the sight of my beloved dog suffering.
Because he was and will always be more than “the dog”.
He was a dear family member.
And as such, even after 3 years have passed since his loss as I write this, I still feel my love for him.
I will never forget him.
I will always love him.
I missed my dog so much that it hurt
After Ejy was gone, I fell into depression.
The worst part is I couldn’t take off work.
Back at the time I worked in a call center.
In our contract, it was said that in emergency cases, we’re allowed to take unpaid leaves.
An emergency case however was the loss of a human family member.
And so, the day after the bad news, I had to go to work…
And I did, as broken as I felt.
When people would ask me “How are you?”, I didn’t hesitate to tell them the truth.
I was devastated.
They were offering their sincere condolences.
Well, along with that also came some inconsiderate comments.
One younger girl told me:
“Oh, your dog died? Sorry to hear. But you’ll get over it, and you’ll get a new one.”
After that comment, I honestly felt like strangling her.
The girl obviously didn’t have pets.
Moreover, she was always boasting to people about how much money she spent on expensive purses and clothes.
I inhaled and exhaled and just turned my head away from her.
Considering it a lost cause to explain to someone like her that losing a living creature you deeply love is different than scratching your Prada purse.
And brushing it off by getting a new one.
There was also one guy who said:
“Oh, big deal. It’s just a dog.”
After hearing this, I couldn’t shut up any longer.
I just said:
“How would you feel if someone of your parents died and I told you “So what? It’s just a person.”
“But it’s a DOG. It’s different.”, he protested.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”, I replied with accusation, but only sadness in my voice.
Later on, the guy apologized but said he couldn’t quite relate.
I said “Thank you.”, as he tried to be more considerate.
And I also saw he was sincere – he was just puzzled.
That was at work, but I continued to miss Ejy and get reminded of him in various places.
At the dog park.
It was so painful.
Knowing that a few days ago I could just go to the dog park.
Socialize Ejy with new dogs.
Share cuddles with him.
And now, I felt as if I was all alone.
With the darkest memories from his last days.
How I survived after my dog past away
To say I was depressed…
Would be an understatement.
And I badly needed to take my mind off what has happened.
Of course, I gave myself enough time to grieve.
I’d cry daily.
I’d look at our last photos and videos where we were together and had fun.
At the time I wasn’t thinking about Ejy, I started reading excessively.
Mainly crime fiction, as it kept my interest and pulled me into a world where I didn’t feel pain.
I also shared with my closest friends who have met Ejy.
Everyone from my friend’s circle knew Ejy.
He was with me through graduation.
He was there when I’d invite friends for my B-Day parties at home.
He was cuddling with my girlfriends and me before we would go clubbing.
He was in the same room as my friends and me from university when we would study together for finals.
And of course, we’d take him for walks around the neighborhood.
Everyone loved him.
And he loved them back.
While sharing my sadness with friends, I appreciated I could be myself.
And that I could express my emotions.
I missed Ejy.
While he was still in the hospital, after the operation, I walked into a nearby 1-Euro store.
And there, I found the most beautiful resin figurine:
The figure looked so realistic that I fell in love with it.
After Ejy died though, I couldn’t bare to look at it.
One time I had friends over to play Dixit (my favorite card game).
We had a lot of fun.
One of my friends said, “Oh, what a cute dog!”
And so, I found an opportunity to get rid of the reminder of my pain.
And cheerfully said “It’s yours. 🙂 “
The guy was over the moon as he really liked the figurine.
And I was relieved.
Another thing I did to cope with my sadness was to give all of Ejy’s stuff away.
I spoke to one colleague who has a big heart for dogs.
And I gave her Ejy’s blankets, toys, water, and food bowls.
“As much as I love him and miss him, there are dogs who could use these.”, I said.
She then brought all of these to the dog shelter she volunteered during the weekends.
That made me feel a bit better.
As I knew I was doing something good for dogs.
So if I can sum up what helped me survive Ejy’s death was:
- Giving myself the permission and time to grieve.
- Sharing how I felt despite how it might have looked.
- Talking to my closest friends about it, so they could help me process it.
- Reading books truly sparked my interest so that I can get my mind off this for a while.
- Giving away all of Ejy’s items so that I wouldn’t be reminded daily of his loss and help other dogs.
5 things I learned from Ejy
#1: To live in the moment
Ejy always focused on what was in front of him at the moment.
Despite the horror story he had been through…
Being bitten by a big dog and having his first operation afterward…
He focused on the things that mattered to him most:
His family – me, Mum and Dad.
Playtime – he’d never skip a good opportunity to jump around and play “chase” with another dog.
It might be common knowledge to some…
But having a dog is a very social activity.
You constantly meet other dog people with whom you share fragments of your day.
Or at least a friendly greeting and a smile.
There’s something to say about the fact that dogs need to be socialized.
However, I feel like Ejy helped me socialize with my own kind just as he did with his.
Thank you, my dear friend.
#3: Unconditional love and devotion
This might sound like a cliche…
But it’s as true as it can be.
Ejy was nothing but loving and loyal to my family and me.
If another family member and I would argue about something…
Ejy would come between us.
And start barking to draw our attention.
It was as if he was saying “Okay. That’s enough. You understand?”
He loved us all.
And he was closest to whoever would take him out and feed him, a.k.a the primary caretaker.
However, all of us shared the responsibilities when it came to Ejy.
We loved spending time with him. And we loved walking him.
This brings me to the next thing he taught me…
#4: To be active
Having a dog is great for your physical fitness as it makes you walk daily.
Regardless of the weather conditions:
Be it burning hot.
Or freezing cold.
The dog needs to walk.
I grew to love the daily walks.
Because, as mentioned, these enabled me to socialize with somewhat like-minded people.
Plus, they brought me into the moment.
As I was walking, I learned to enjoy and be aware of the neighborhood more and more.
#5: To enjoy the little things
Ejy was happy whenever me, Mum, or Dad would play with him.
Or whenever one of us petted him.
And boy, did Ejy love (and request) petting!
He loved it when we would:
Go for a walk.
Travel to the seaside.
Or simply spend time at the villa.
For him, it was enough being by our side.
I thank you, Ejy, for this lesson, as sometimes I tend to get too caught up in my head.
And I admit that I forget to look around and be grateful for what I already have.
#6: To be more creative
Ejy was many things to me.
When he would have zoomies, he’d remind me of a bunny.
When he would sniff around and make this funny sound, he’d remind me of a hedgehog.
As they too have long snouts and make similar sounds.
In fact, I made up his Bulgarian name from the last 3 letters of the word “hedgehog” in Plural.
Hence the name “Eji” (only written with a “y” at the end). 🙂
#7: To be more caring
If you made it this far in the article, you might remember that…
I used to call Ejy “the sun of the house”.
To me, he was that, but most of all he was like a little kid.
I perceived him as a crazy kiddo who loves to play around.
And as such, he needed love and care.
After developing a deep bond with him, I learned to be more mindful of his body language.
As well as his overall moods and needs.
Whenever we would go somewhere by car, I would make a list of what items he needed.
If we would go on long walks, I’d always bring water and some food.
Thanks to him I learned to be better for and around dogs.
And I say that with all the love and gratitude I feel.
Ejy taught me to wake up early in the morning.
Before classes at the university start.
And to be home on time so I could walk him first thing after.
He taught me to be more aware of dog food.
As well as of the individual needs of certain breeds like his.
After a few years, he had problems with his teeth as there was too much plaque buildup.
We had his teeth cleaned by the vets and Ejy was much better.
When he was younger, he was once bitten by a stray dog.
During a walk with me.
This happened while I was walking on the opposite sidewalk.
I noticed the strays and was as far away as I could.
However, one dog sneaked up on us and bit Ejy from behind.
Ejy squeaked, I yelled at the stray…
Which at that time was already retreating by running to where they came from.
Next, I put Ejy in my arms.
I took him to the vet, but they couldn’t find anything.
He was a ball of fur after all.
Kind of like cotton candy on 4 legs.
It was only at home that I realized there was a wound.
That’s because Ejy licked the place where it was and thus revealed it.
I went back to the vet, and they sewed it.
Luckily it wasn’t a big bite.
But it did scare me.
After which I was always cautious around other dogs.
With my current small dog, Lissa, even more so.
I’ll cherish this lesson for the rest of my life.
#9: To let go
That was the hardest lesson I got.
I was holding onto Ejy while he was in the pet hospital.
I was holding on to the memories with him after he passed away.
It’s not like you can erase 9 years spent with someone you care about, is it?
I had to learn to let go though.
You probably had to too.
And while it’s one of the toughest things to do, it’s necessary.
I’d like to tell you this:
Give yourself time and let go of the sadness.
Let go of the guilt.
As much as you can.
Then keep all the nice memories together.
I know I will.
Until Ejy and I are reunited.
If you reached the end of this piece, I congratulate you!
I poured my soul into this read.
It wasn’t easy sharing all the details that made my life the way it was.
But I find it important.
As these make the story I told you complete.
I’m telling it as it is as I’d like Ejy to be remembered forever.
I know I’ll come back to this read again one day.
With the aim to acknowledge my best friend.
He will live forever in my heart no matter that we’re currently apart.
With much love and gratitude,