They say a dog is a man’s best friend.
They are wrong.
Our dog, Hefner Nicastro, was our best family.
December 1, 2004 – November 28, 2018
Last week on the evening of Wednesday, November 28, 2018, Hefner peacefully went to rest with the Universe, just two days shy of his 14th birthday. Hefner was lucky that nature and his body told him it was time to go, free from any of the pain that would be caused by his Addison’s Disease, Heart Disease, Transitional Cell Carcinoma and newly discovered pneumonia.
Hefner battled these ailments and others for fourteen amazing years with nothing but dignity and the unconditional love only a dog can give you. Hefner enjoyed a life full of playing, traveling, dogparks, and of course plenty of treats! When Hef could not travel with us, he loved staying at Puptown Lounge where everyone on staff treated him like family! Hefner was a regular at the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center, visiting at least once every 5 weeks for help with Addison’s. As a result he was well-known, well-loved and super spoiled by the staff!
Hefner was surrounded with love and tears by Nick, Jamie, Aunt Gina, and his cousins, Frankie and Lola, shortly before his passing. After a hospital stay on Monday, by Wednesday we knew he didn’t have much more time with us in the physical form (he will live on forever in the digital form). We are lucky that nature was kind, sparing Hef from a slow and painful death and instead giving him the peace and comfort of choosing when he’d go.
Hefner Nicastro was born December 1, 2004, and came into our lives just a few weeks later. I have yet to receive a better Christmas gift.
For the next 14 years, Hefner would be the best dog a man could ask for. Working from home, he was by my side nearly every minute of every day. Typing this now it’s hard for me to believe he’s not here now.
For the past week I have mourned and grieved and smiled and laughed, taking my time to watch videos and look at old pictures of Hefner. These pics and videos helped ease my sadness, showing me that my dog had a long and action packed life.
However Hefner wasn’t the luckiest one in the relationship. We were. Jamie and I and everyone who loved Hef have done nothing to have earned the time we spent with such a smart, loving, creative dog, with a personality that was one of a kind. I look back at these photos and I’m truly thankful for every minute Hef was by my side.
I have had my moments in the past week and aside from the night Hef passed on, this is the toughest of them yet. I am relying on my stoic philosophy to avoid constant breakdowns, reminding myself that I never had a choice in the matter – Hefner would someday pass on – as will I and everyone who ever knew me.
My psychologist reminded me not to overdo it with the stoicism, that grieving is a natural and important process. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok if I don’t have a huge appetite. These are all normal things a week after the huge loss of such a loved companion. My life story is changing, not necessarily for good or bad, just different. And that’s ok too.
I never liked looking at other people’s posts when their animals have passed away. It always made me go to a sad place where I’d dwell on the inevitable fate that would someday come for us all. However a good friend reminded me through his open letter to his ailing dog that it’s not about us, it’s about them. Since Hefner passed I have realized that he deserves this post and his photo album. Sure they were hard for me to write/compile but it’s not about me, it’s what Hefner earned in his 14 years on planet Earth being man’s best family.
I am forever grateful that we got to tell you how much we love you and how much we will miss you, Hef. There has never been a dog more loving or loved. Thank you for being you.
Your humans, Nick & Jamie