One Last Kiss

baby

I wasn’t ready to rescue a dog but
I learned of a puppy in need of a home
so I decided to visit him on a whim.

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A miniature white Schnauzer,
he was only two months old
and just a few pounds, mostly ears.
When they opened his cage,
he burst out of it with all his might
and jumped up on my lap.

pretzel and andrew hugs

His uncropped ears were bigger than his head,
his skin was still pink, his fur soft,
and he was pure love from the first moment we met.
He kissed my face and wagged his tail at light speed.

p3

He was adorable but the time wasn’t right.
I put him back down and prepared to leave.
He jumped back on my lap.
I hugged him and set him back down.
He looked up at me, tilted his head, and cried.

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I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t bring you home,”
and he barked and refused to let me leave without him.
I picked him up again,
he pushed his head into my chest,
and I knew we were meant to be together.

andrew and pretzel

Our bond began with a very special encounter.
We were connected from the first time we met.
It was in that moment that I knew
I couldn’t leave without him.
I took him home that day
named him Pretzel after my favorite childhood snack,
and for the next 14 years,
we were inseparable –
as good of friends as any man and animal
that have ever lived.

andrew and pretzel hug

Have you ever loved an animal so much
that the feeling fills you with incomparable joy?
I could hug and kiss him all day
and I would feel like I hadn’t loved him enough.
We used to play a game, “I kiss you, you kiss me.”
It always ended in a tie.

kissingpretzel

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Through the early years of his life,
he became an ambassador for other dogs,
visiting thousands of children in schools
and attending events to teach people
about the rewards of rescuing animals.
He became loved by so many people,
earning him the nickname “everyone’s dog.”

A reminder from my dog Pretzel

What did this gentle soul mean to me?
In every moment of my life,
when I needed someone to cheer me up,
to hug after a difficult day,
to make me smile during life’s most challenging times,
or to remind me of the importance of helping all animals,
Pretzel was always there.

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He gave me purpose in my life,
and he always made me feel better.
If I was sick or sad, he always knew,
and he would push his head into my chest,
and lick my face.
He also made me laugh every day –
whether running around with one of my socks,
or putting the UPS man on notice.

napwithpretzel

Pretzel loved to play with other dogs,
to snuggle,
dig up his blanket,
run around with his food in his mouth
and look for places to hide it,
and smell flowers.

flowers

Pretzel flowers

We sat on this bench hundreds of times.
It was our bench.
I would scratch his head as
we watched the boats sail by,
and the pelicans fly overhead
as we absorbed the fresh ocean air.

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Pretzel loved belly rubs,
to hide under blankets,
to watch birds,
to feel the breeze blow his beard,
and to kiss children’s faces.

pretzel with aiden

He loved my friends and family,
and he loved to love everyone
and everyone loved him.

I wish I could have my dog s life

He taught me to slow down,
to enjoy the simple pleasures in life,
and to be kind.
Sometimes I would just watch him sleep –
such a peaceful sight.

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He was a constant inspiration and reminder
to advocate for all animals
as I saw the eyes of every helpless animal
in his eyes.

Pretzel play date

During the past year,
I nursed him through several medical conditions,
and he always persevered.
When he developed trouble walking,
we used a stroller.
As we faced each challenge,
I pulled out every stop
to ensure a quality life for him
always promising him I would never let him suffer.
This was the last photo of Pretzel enjoying his life –
one of thousands of walks we took together –
taken the day before he suddenly and tragically
passed away.
I miss him so much.

pretzel in stroller

The void is deep now,
every day.
I hear noises
and I think it’s Pretzel
eating his food,
asking me to take him outside,
digging his blanket,
or coming for a hug,
and then I remember.

Andrew

One night, he came to me in a dream
as vivid and real as any I’ve ever had.
He was walking down the hallway,
beautifully brushed,
looking healthy,
and he barked.

I come home and still expect to see him
and he’s not there.
His bowls still remain on the floor
as I’ve been unable to put them away.
It marks an end
that I still can’t face.
The finality of his passing
hurts my heart every day.

photo (5)

Our bond began with the most beautiful moment
and it ended much the same way it began.
As I held him in the hospital
in our final minutes together,
and gently petted him
and kissed his forehead
and our years together raced through my mind,
I couldn’t believe
it was coming to an end.
We had survived so many close calls
through the years.
I did everything I could to save him.

No matter how prepared I thought I might be
to say goodbye to this gentle and beautiful soul,
I realized I was not.
If he had lived to be 100,
it would not have been long enough.

Right before my best friend passed away,
through the hardest tears I’ve ever cried,
I sang him a song
I used to sing him as a baby.

His eyes were closed.
I said to him,
“Pretzel, please don’t leave me.
Please give Daddy a kiss.”
He was very weak and making a groaning sound,
clearly now in discomfort and exhausted.
With all of the strength he had left,
he opened his eyes,
looked at me,
and gave me one last kiss.
It was the most heart-breaking
and beautiful moment of my life.

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I don’t know what will happen to me when I die
but if there is any chance I can find my dog again,
I will spend all of my time searching for him.
I would do anything for one more hug
and one more kiss –
to take him to smell the flowers,
and feel the breeze again.
What a run we had.

Pretzel swim ocean

Our lives together ended the same way they began,
with a kiss.
That is how I will remember this sweet little dog
that brightened every day of my life for so many years.
I visit our bench sometimes
and remember our lives together
as the birds fly overhead and the ships sail by.
I’ll never be the same person without him
but I’ll always try to live a meaningful life in his memory.

Pretzel at beach

Andrew Kirschner, Ed.D. is the founder and CEO of Animal Rescue Bar, a delicious plant-based snack for health-conscious people that donates 50% of its proceeds to animal rescue organizations, providing compassionate people a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of abused, injured, neglected, confined, and abandoned animals.

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75 Responses to One Last Kiss

  1. angel henderson says:

    this made me cry i feel your pain we put our baby to sleep 2 years ago after his battle with cancer and i miss him every day of my life he was my friend and always there for me im sure there is a rainbow bridge and they are waiting for us bless

  2. Marilyn Mednick says:

    Beyond beautiful tribute to your long-time companion.

  3. Miriam says:

    My heart goes out to you. I, too, have felt that kind of love and unfortunately also the loss. My best friend and companion of 14 years – a Maltese named Pongo passed away in December 2005. There is a void in my heart that will not be filled until the day we are reunited.

  4. Li says:

    my baby loved flowers, too, and she loved all people. she liked the breeze that blew on her soft coat, she loved to lay and frolick on grass. she was still playful, thought the dogs that came to her were there to play with and she wagged her tail in excitement. one of them picked her up and shook her repeatedly like a stuffed toy. she cried and screamed in pain but he didn’t put her down until she was already torn and ripped inside. desti died because of the extensive injuries she had sustained- her abdominal wall torn and her spleen telescoped out through that tear under her skin. her xray showed bruises in the back and the doctor said she wasn’t sure if there was a hole in her lung. we couldn’t afford to pay $7k-$10k for her surgeries, maybe even more if while going in to fix her tear, the docs would find there are other injuries. if I had the money I would’ve gone for the surgery. She was still a puppy and she had a boyfriend with whom she was gonna have puppies with. I wrote the animal services because there was/is no emergency number we could call. their number should’ve been accessible through 911. those dogs could have been found. there should have been registry on animals in the residences and the owners could/should have been made legally accountable for their irresponsibility and made to pay for my baby’s hospital expenses. I wrote to the lieutenant. I told him we shouldn’t have been the precedent, that those resources should’ve been in place long before what happened to us happened. there should be a specialized hospital for dogs for cases like mine that would give free or low cost medical/surgical services. my baby would’ve had the chance to live. i would have had the chance to enjoy her longer. i miss her so much. i see her everywhere. under the couch, on the grass where she’d lay down when she knows i’d go back inside the building and she still didn’t want to. yelps and sights of other dogs hurt me. i do not want to see her boyfriend because it hurts to see him, i’d see him grown and i never get to see my baby grow. they used to always play, for hours each time. she would pinch and hold beau by his ear as she tugs him along. he was not hurt. poor beau was fine with it. he would tug her by her leash. they’re so funny! they used to be taken to the vet for their shots, together in one carrier where they’d wrestle.

    if she had made it i would have not cared if she never got to have puppies, but even she, i don’t have. she was the baby that keeps us sweeping and vacuming, who ran like a rabbit up and down the apartment, even when she’s by herself. she was full of life. she was the life and joy and the baby that you couldn’t get mad with, in my mother’s home. she would snap at my mom’s face as mother sleeps, waking her up in the worst ways but when she realizes it’s her, her anger easily turns to affection. she was a baby and was sweet as she was spoiled. though she loved my mom more, i love her most.

  5. deepak singh rauthan says:

    O man it’s too touching …a feeling that of all emotional burst out…..no words left to describe this amazing journey …god bless help in reuniting two kind souls :’( :’(

  6. Pingback: Why Some People Should Never Be Allowed to Adopt a Shelter Dog | Kirschner's Korner

  7. cherie says:

    Made me cry.. God bless all our fur kids..

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