Well, it finally happened.
I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. I just didn't know for sure when it would exactly happen. And after being there through the vast majority of my life that I was able to still remember, he definitely made an undeniable impact on me.
Back when I was a small child, as in 9 or 10 years old (roughly speaking, I don't know the exact year), we got a chihuahua named Chico. My mom and grandma were coming to pick me up for something, and Chico was in the car with them. At that moment, in a strange twist - I knew I wanted to have that dog. Which, at the time, was unusual as I largely wanted nothing to do with dogs - I was exclusively a cat person. But Chico came along and changed that forever.
It's no exaggeration to say that I grew up with him. He was there as I went through basically all of my schooling, from 4th grade until I graduated High School. He was there when I got my first several jobs. He was there when I met new friends online through Xbox LIVE, and he was there when I brought an online community back from the dead. Through nearly every significant event in my life thus far, he was there.
A few years ago or so, he started having a serious coughing fits. After taking him to the vet, we learned that he was in the very early stages of congestive heart failure, and that he had a heart murmur. Good thing is it was largely treatable through special food and a few medications. And after the medicines kicked in, he was fine. No more coughing, and everything was back to normal. Mostly. He did still have what seemed to be potential blindness, as his eyes were found to be very cloudy, and he couldn't jump up onto the couch and things like that without considerable effort - but otherwise, was entirely fine and healthy.
Originally, I didn't plan to get another dog immediately after he eventually passed. But seeing as Chico was fairly important to me - I wanted to have another dog with me. Not just any dog, but one that was one of Chico's descendants. In early 2019, that opportunity presented itself - and Landon, Chico's great grandson, joined the household. At first I had some regrets as he started tearing things up left and right, but eventually things settled down, and things were put away properly enough - and we of course kept him.
Fast forward to a couple days ago. Chico seemed to eat less than usual, though that wasn't a cause for concern by itself, as he'd sometimes not eat for a day but was otherwise normal and would eat the next day no problem. However, he also seemed to start walking a bit funny, and his breathing seemed to get faster. My sleep schedule was backwards, so I woke up yesterday afternoon and notice he needed a slight push to get out of bed, and he stumbled a bit when he got off the bed. But hey, he kept walking, so not too much concern yet.
But later that night (or rather, early this morning I suppose), it became clear that something very bad was happening - and I pretty much knew where it was heading. I went to give him one of his medicines for the night, and when I went to move him to give it to him, he was extremely weak. I moved him, gave him the medicine, and he pretty much went right back down. He was on a blanket and pillow next to a corner by the couch on the floor, which became his sleeping spot after some reorganizing in the living room. That weakness, combined with the fact that he refused to take his two pills - even the one he normally takes no problem, it was clear where things were headed, and that his time was coming to an end.
I'd already called dad earlier, but that was before things progressed to this point. I had originally intended to head to bed, but seeing how weak he was, it was clear he wasn't gonna be able to make it to the bed - so I stayed up and stayed in the room with him. Mere hours later, I turned around to check on him and watched him take his last breaths.
And that was it. Chico had passed on. His fairly long and rich life had come to an end.
The one plus of it being so abrupt as it was, is that he at least didn't spend a bunch of time suffering. I did my best to give him a good home and a loving companion, and he gave me the same in return - plus the gift of being able to love and appreciate dogs.
Rest easy buddy - you might be gone, but your impact will stay with me for the rest of my life.