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Captain the Little Love Warrior, by Rachael Baxter

We always called him Captain America, but after eight years and four months we discovered he’s Captain the Little Love Warrior.

My dog passed away on September 4, 2022. It was sudden and it was shocking, but he was resilient up until his last moment. I was on vacation with him, only to return home to New York without him. It was our last road trip.

On September 2, Captain and I received a diagnosis of an inoperable aggressive illness (liver cancer) with potentially a few days to live, or that he may not even survive the night. I was in Florida when I received the call. Captain was in South Carolina with my mom. I left Florida immediately and drove 10 hours while asking God for His mercy and miracle.

At 4:30 am on September 3, I saw Captain, who rallied with kisses. I took him home from the emergency room under my care with the terrifying warning: his condition was critical – he would go naturally, or I’d have to make a devastating decision.

The next day, September 4, Captain and I enjoyed a sunrise walk. Surrounded by family – we loved him, thanked him, and shared kisses. Even though I saw his end-of-life signs, I couldn’t make sense of his resiliency – I thought, “Are we poised for another miracle?!” We took Captain back to the emergency room, and the doctor said, “He loves you all so much, which is why he is rallying.” Captain’s true animal instinct came through – he never showed fear or pain.

We walked into the next room, and it was no longer a devastating but a compassionate decision.

Captain sat calmly with me, and when his last moments arrived, Captain gave me his final “I love you” eyes, placed his mouth on mine like a last kiss, and collapsed his head softly in my arms. It was our final act of friendship, and I whispered, “He’s gone.” I broke when I realized it was his last breath.

I said goodbye to my little soulmate, love warrior, and best friend. This was a profound loss, but while I carry the loss, I also carry the love. I made a bucket list in Captain’s honor. Our beautiful love story will live on forever in my heart.

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