My Favorite Part of Myself: An Ode to a Girl’s Best Friend

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Sixteen years. That’s how long I’ve loved Chubby.

Sixteen years.

We got her from the pound when I was seven years old. Being the impatient seven year old that I was I would wake her up from her puppy naps so we could play. I just wanted someone to enjoy life with. I keep catching myself using human pronouns. Chubby isn’t just a dog. She’s my longest and best friend.

Since it was just me and my mom in the house, Chubby added something our family really needed. Chubby was my person. The person I ran home to to tell about my day. She taught me how to listen, how to love, and how to be a friend. Not only is Chubby important to me, but she touches everyone who is around her with her warm personality and acceptance. Of course when she was little she would bark at everything, but once she got to know you she accepted anyone’s lovin.

Whenever we had guests over, I would barely say hi before saying, “Do you want to see my dog?!” She was my favorite part of myself.

We started to see Chubby’s health decline over the last couple years. First came the cataracts. She began to lose her hearing and eventually lost the rest. She started losing traction in her paws so we had to put a rug by her water and food bowls. Then she had trouble sleeping.  She would stay up for most of the night, getting super anxious and walking around in circles, forgetting where she was going. It was heart breaking to watch. The vet told us she has cognitive disfunction (Alzheimer’s for dogs) and recommended a supplement to help turn her around. When that didn’t work we got her some anxiety pills to help her sleep at night. Not too long after that she stopped being able to climb up on her bed easily so we went through a cycle of several beds before finding the right one.

A week ago, she started vomiting and stopped eating all together. She got some medicine to help with the nausea but that didn’t seem to work. Between her anxiety and vomiting, she was up all night. I knew she wasn’t comfortable and her time was coming soon – way sooner than I had anticipated. Her blood work results came back fine so we decided to go with an x-ray. That’s when we found the gallstones. Surgery was the only sure fire way to fix it and we knew she was too weak for surgery. They could try and give us medicine but that was not guaranteed to help. By this point she was on her third day of no food. We made the decision to let her go on Monday. I’m writing this while she’s still alive because I know if I were to wait until after she was gone my brain would be mush and I wouldn’t be able to type through my tears.

Chubby has basically been around for all the important years in my life. She’s seen me graduate from high school, attend and graduate from college, and has met most of my friends. She could always detect a bad egg boyfriend. And if they didn’t like her then clearly they were crazy (foolproof). She was there for me when I moved home and none of my friends were around. She saw me start my own business and fulfill my dream as becoming a wedding photographer.

She has this way about her that I think most dogs have where they understand when their friend is hurting and come and hang out. Chubby rarely “hangs out” anymore but when she does it’s usually because I’m down about one thing or another. I couldn’t have picked a better dog to grow up with. She’s never let me down. I just wish she didn’t have to get old. (time to invent immortal dogs?)

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This was the first day we got her, I was so excited to have something of my own I could take care of and love. I love my little smiles and quiet moments where I’m so in love with this dog.

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“Maria has always had a love for dogs, constantly asking, “Can I have a dog? When are we going to get a dog? How come I don’t have a dog? I don’t have anyone to play with, I don’t have a brother or sister here and can I have a dog?” I finally gave in and said, “When we move and have a fenced in yard, we can go to the pound and get a dog. Well we moved, and again with the question, “When are we going to get a fence? I think we need a fence. You said we were going to get a fence. I don’t see a fence. This went on for a year after Maria promised to walk the dog, feed the dog, change the dog’s water, pick up the dog’s poop and bathe the dog.” -Mom

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This is one of my favorite pictures. I still pick her up like a baby till this day. And she still hates it, but I love cuddling her even though she’s never been fond of my smothering.

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Only a few months later did her famous triangle ears start to grow in.

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 “Maria decided on a name for the dog before we had one, Chubby. We looked for Chubby every weekend, every day off I or we had off together. Maria was very persistent about getting the most precious pal. Finally after some time, she found her Chubby, a 6 week old German Shepard, Collie, Hound dog mix who was actually chubby. Maria was very happy and showered her 4 legged sister with a mixture of hugs, kisses and cuddles. Wherever Chubby was, Maria was very close behind. On Chubby’s first day home, Maria bathed Chubby, gave her food and water, walked her and left Chubby’s poop for me.” -Mom

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I was so surprised to find this picture. Chubby was always around for Christmas or Easter or whatever holiday I got to open something on. But it’s so weird she’s laying on my legs. I think I was more of her best friend than I realized.

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Doggy kisses and photo bombin’.

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“She was always wagging her tail and barking when I would come pick up Maria. It’s like she knew I wasn’t a threat. She loved when I rubbed her belly, almost nonstop panting. She was one of the most loyal dogs I’ve ever seen and it was cute when Maria would always say she was a German Shepard, Collie, Hound mix, never saying she was a mutt.” -Dad

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Welcome to the photo series of Maria squeezing Chubby so hard her eyes almost popped out.

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“My funniest moment of Chubby and Maria was when Maria decided to dress Chubby in my intimate apparel and walk her down the street. I couldn’t believe it.” -Mom

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“I barely remember the pre-Chubby days.  Chubby was Maria’s companion in grade school, through high school, on visits home from college, and the awkward transitional post-college transition we have all been through.  Chubby’s familiarity to Maria has brought comfort, joy, annoyance (ha), compassion and, most of all, companionship.  I knew that the day would come eventually for Chubby to pass on, but I also think that in purposeful denial I felt like Chubby would always be around in the future like she has always been in the past.  You will be missed, Chubs, especially by Maria and Aunt Cynde, and my heart is so sad for their loss of you from their lives.” – Tara

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And this is what I call “chubby”

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When I didn’t have anyone to hang out with I hung out with, Chubby and I took selfies that weren’t called selfies yet. You have no idea how many I had to weed through…

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And then Chubby showed me off to college…

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…and cuddled with me when I came home.

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She was there for all of my birthdays even if just in the background.

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“One time Maria and her mom left me alone with Chubby and a box of Cheez-Its to feed her if she started barking. She barked. I fed her a Cheez-It. She threw it up on our apartment rug. They were gone all of ten minutes.” – Meghan

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“The memory of a great dog will live forever.  Not only with the owner but with everyone who had contact with that loyal, loving animal.  I honestly believe that God created dogs for those of us who need an unconditional love that we cannot attain from other humans.  They are an truly an example of how we should treat each other.  They are selfless and look to do what’s right for those closest to them.  Chubby was no different for Maria.  The bond that they hold is more extreme than in most situations.  Chubby is only Maria’s and Maria is only Chubby’s.  They’ve been there for each other for longer than most friendships that any of us have.  She would do anything for Maria.  My favorite inspiring memory of Chubby comes from their old house on Brookfield.  Maria would constantly try to get Chubby to jump from the love seat to the couch.  However funny it was for us to watch her fail and smash her face into the couch, she would continue to try for Maria and would ultimately succeed.  Regardless of how others view you, remember Chubby and try to push through for yourself and for those who care about you the most.  Anything worth attaining requires you to take that first step and make a leap into the unknown.  Thanks Chubby.” -Rob

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Chubby accepted and put up with my weird antics.

“Like most people, I had only known Chubby through Maria’s stories and pictures. Then one day I had the pleasure of meeting the infamous pup. Maria swung open the door and I was greeted with a much smaller than anticipated, floppy eared fox-dog. I quickly realized why Maria had developed the habit of scooping Chubby up and snuggling with her.” -Daniel

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  And then I moved home and she became almost internet famous. She got a whole lot of lovin’ from people who didn’t even know her!

Summer images during June 12-13 2013

“Oh little Chubby. She has an infectious personality with incredible energy to pair with it. I would have thought that she was a puppy had it not been for the grey hair that nearly covered her face. Yet, Maria could still swoop her up in her arms and hold her like a baby, which Chubby still was at heart. There was no doubt she was Maria’s baby; always had been and forever will be. Chubby even posed for pictures with us as we sported our Snyder shirts – the girl is a trooper! I hadn’t known her long, but it was clear they had a special bond. (As if I hadn’t already gathered that from all Instagrams Maria shares of her!) And Chubby had been given a great home with family who adored her as she lived out the rest of her doggy years.” -Autumn

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“I have never had the opportunity to meet Chubby in person but I do follow the pictures and videos Maria posts to Instagram very closely. Especially in my favorite videos of all, the #chubbyruns series. But even more apparent than Chubby’s overall cuteness is the deep connection and love Maria shares with Chubby. It’s so apparent from their pictures how much Maria adores her Chubby puppy. Chubby will be missed but she has led a wonderful life.” -Katie

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The picture above won the “Pet Selfie” Contest at my vet’s office. It was fun to see her cuteness officially recognized.

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“My favorite memory of Chubby is when Maria lived in her old house on Brookfield and we put her in a baby pool (I think that’s what it was) and she kept trying to escape. But in a general sense my favorite memories of Chubby are going over to Maria’s house for sleepovers when we were younger and if she had to leave the room, Chubby would come over to me and want me to pet her. She was always the sweetest pup.” – Sarah

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And then she started sleeping all the time and taking over the bathroom.

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 “Chubby has been so faithful to Maria for all of these years. Chubby has been Maria’s one constant in her life. Everything changes…friends, homes, schools, boyfriends, jobs. It was a very difficult decision for Maria to allow Chubby to be pain free. Maria loves Chubby more than anyone in her life and that’s okay.  I am very proud of Maria’s strength during a part of life everyone hates to go through.” -Mom

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I think I’ll miss her cuddles the most. And getting to come home and pick her up or sneak a peek at her while she’s sleeping. Just knowing that she’s around makes me so much calmer. When she isn’t around, I always freak out wondering where she is. When I first got to college, adjusting to not having a dog was so weird. I would always expect her to come running when I dropped food.

I decided to do a portrait session with Chubby about a week ago. This was when I knew her time was soon but not right around the corner. We actually had to keep moving up our session as we kept getting bad news. I’m so thankful to Suzanne for being so understanding and flexible with our situation and so grateful for her to capture us on one of Chubby’s last days.

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“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with her and not only will she not scold you, but she will make a fool of herself, too.” -Samuel Butler

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I’m also incredibly overwhelmed by everyone’s love and support leading up to this day. So many people have shared their stories about losing their dogs and that has helped me immensely in my healing process. I know the next few months will be tough but I’ll have my sixteen years of memories and all of my pictures of my extremely well documented dog to remember her and how she helped me be the person I am today.

It’s still hard to accept that she’s actually gone. I find myself looking around the house for her. Peaking in the bathroom since I didn’t see her in the living room sleeping. I think that’s going to be the biggest adjustment, actually believing that my best friend is gone. I’ll miss you Chubby Bunny…

A great big thank you to everyone who contributed to this blog post and took the time to reflect on Chubby’s life.

Read a follow up to our story, here.

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