by Helen Bavin
I opened my email inbox to see another group of twenty emails from people offering help. Another twenty people with kind words and comforting stories. Another twenty people who would send emails two weeks later telling me how sorry they were that I lost my best friend, and another twenty people who would teach me life lessons I never would have learned otherwise. These twenty people, as well as many others, were willing to donate money towards the biopsy for my six-year-old Labrador Retriever, Wrinkles, who was consistently there for me through the past six years.
I remember the first day I held Wrinkles at a Petco adoption day, looking into his soft green eyes as he licked my face. I remember his first winter when my sister and I would take him on walks at night, the rain falling. He would chase the water running down the side of the road until it drained into the gutter, dragging my 11-year-old self down the hill with him. I remember the days when I would lay on my bed, my head buried in his fur, tears running down my face for one reason or another. And like a nightmare, I remember holding him on the vet’s table for the last time (a week after finding out he had osteosarcoma)-- a day when I didn’t even have the chance to come home and bury my face in his fur.
He was my pillow when I needed him, my jogging partner at the park and my teammate on the weekends. Wrinkles and I competed in and won multiple titles in agility and through this sport I met all these wonderful people that would help my family in a time of need.
In the very short six years that I had Wrinkles, he taught me a lot. One of the biggest lessons was to never give up. I didn’t give up on Wrinkles when he was overtime on hot days and he didn’t give up on me when I felt defeated. The bond we shared was one that I will never forget. He was my first puppy, my first agility dog and my first major responsibility. I think some people were confused as to why I put so much attention into my dog since I am only a teenager, but I know that it was because he gave me so much attention.
Wrinkles also taught me to be grateful for every little moment in life. You never know when something, like cancer, can just show up and take a life, so live in today. Wrinkles brought me joy each and every day that he ran up to me when I came home from a tough day of school, each car ride with him on the way to a trial, and most memorably, each agility run that we had together. I ran each trial as if it were my last, and to this day I remember the exact layout of our first course at our first trial and almost every run we had together after that.
As a junior handler it’s amazing to see the love and support that comes from a lot of adults in this sport and I can never fully thank the people that helped me pay for Wrinkles’ medical bills in full.So know that dreams do come true. I dreamt of having a big yellow dog since I was four-years-old and was finally able to get Wrinkles when we bought a house. To me, he was so much more than a dog or a family pet; he was a major part of the most important years of my life. I’ve grown into who I am today with his help and will continue to grow with the life lessons that he taught me. Helen’s Dream Come True “Wrinkles” was nothing less than my miracle. I love you and miss you my sweet boy.