I was blessed with the daily companionship of Porkchop for 11 years. He was given to me on my birthday, but when I first saw him I was disappointed. I wanted an Australian Shepherd, and the dog in my mind’s eye looked nothing like Porkchop.

He wasn’t the cutest puppy, and as a result he was the last of a litter to find a home. To add injury to insult, one of my horses stepped squarely on his face within 15 minutes of our first introduction. That left my new dog with a swollen nose and many restless nights of discomfort and labored breathing.

porkchopI took him to work with me every day. I was, and still am (in addition to running Meet Me At The Barn), a co-owner of a San Diego-based physical therapy and wellness company. From the very beginning, Porkchop captured the hearts of our patients. He had an uncanny sense of who needed his love and encouragement. He showed up every day until his last ready to serve, expecting nothing in return while putting smiles on faces and extending genuine comfort to those in pain. Maybe it was long-remembered empathy.

When my house burned down in 2007 Porkchop patiently tolerated the gypsy lifestyle of shuffling to four different temporary homes over two years until we were able to move back into a reconstructed house. During the long and demanding days of construction, he never left my side and he generously allowed me the time I needed to oversee the overwhelming project of building a home from the ground up.

In the course of recalibrating after the fire, the relationship that I had been in for the prior 15 years was coming to a necessary end. Once again, Porkchop was there to provide the steadfast comfort I required in order to traverse the tumultuous and unsteady waters of heartbreak.

top of all this turmoil, one of the companies for which I was a co-founder became the plaintiff in a complex lawsuit. This required a great deal of my focus and attention as well as weeks of travel, which left Porkchop in the care of dependable friends. He graciously accepted the consequences and gave his unwavering support to my task at hand.

Porkchop even seemed pleased when we prevailed in the lawsuit.

As time went on, things improved, as they usually do when you put a lot of effort into any enterprise. The dust settled from those unpredicted days of loss and transition, and Porkchop and I forged ahead with appreciation and fortitude, open to the newness and adventure that each day brought.

2sox-and-PorkchopOn Bad times and good, he remained my loyal and devoted buddy, smiling every step of the way. When we added 2sox — a spirited Aussie puppy to our tribe — Porkchop was bighearted in his role as the “lead dog” in our family. The two of them became inseparable and a bond was created that would recently come to an abrupt halt. Porkchop’s passing left young 2sox steeped in a grief that can only be diluted by the passing of time.

Porkchop lived life large while at the same time taking time to enjoy his days to the fullest. In addition to the countless memories he left behind and the love he gave so freely, were the lessons he taught me. Here is a short list of what I learned from him:

  • Never judge a book by its cover
  • Unconditional love is the most pure love
  • Be of great service in your life
  • Live in the moment, it is all you have
  • Give people the space they need when they need it
  • Sometimes there are no words — just be
  • Live graciously
  • Stop and smell the roses, every single one of them
  • Keep good track of those you love and check in on them often
  • Kindness is a virtue and so is courage.

I will leave you with this poem written by Mary Oliver, who is one of my favorite poets. She sums it up beautifully:

“to live in this world

you must be able

to do three things

to love what is mortal;

to hold it against your bones

knowing your life

depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go”

In loving memory of Porkchop, 2005-2016

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About The Author: Annie M. Fonte is the founder and CEO of Meet Me At The Barn — a self-mastery and personal development program designed to help people of purpose achieve their highest level of living. With an M.B.A. from Harvard University in hand, Annie has founded numerous successful ventures in health care, sports medicine, continuing education and hard goods. At Meet Me At The Barn, Annie and her team produce live and online courses that guide clients toward living an authentic life and that help people discover and pursue their true self and passions.

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