I have often asked myself if there is such a thing as destiny; are the meaningful events in our lives meant to happen? And when someone very special comes into your life and changes you to the very core, is it a mere coincidence or is it written in the stars? Paquito was my soulmate; we shared an indescribable bond that kept us together for almost 16 years. He touched my heart from the moment I saw him and the unconditional love between us will always be a part of who I am. To celebrate Paquito's life, I would like to tell his story from the very beginning, when he first came into my life. Unbeknownst to me, that would be the beginning of a relationship that would take me to places in my heart I did not know existed.
So back to our story, the year was 2004, December 2004 to be precise; we had just celebrated Christmas, our beautiful tree was still up and it glimmered every night with wonderful lights and decorations and we were getting ready to welcome a brand new 2005. My son David still lived at home, he had just graduated from high-school and it was just the two of us. David had always wanted a dog, but our condo association had strict rules about owning pets and it was strictly forbidden. But David was having none of that; one afternoon, just before New Year’s Eve, I got home from shopping for the celebration and as I am putting things away I see my son holding this tiny, beautiful white Chihuahua puppy. Needless to say, I was puzzled as we both knew the rules. But he reassured me saying that the puppy would not stay long, that he belonged to friends and it was just temporary; I remember picking up the puppy and holding him, and as he looked at me with those sad, big eyes of his, my heart started to melt. So yes, you guessed right; David’s' plan had worked...
When things were out in the open (I made David come clean), David told me that he had been looking for a dog like Paquito, which is what David named him after a Mexican restaurant in our neighborhood, and that he had finally found him at a breeder’s in Hialeah. For those of you who are not local, Hialeah is a city in Miami with undeniable Cuban flavor and where you must have at least a basic knowledge of Spanish if you want to find your way around. And the breeder... looking back, we think his name was Gonzalez... but to his date we are still not sure if it was Gutierrez... or Gomez...
In any case, Paquito was home to stay regardless of the condo rules, we would deal with them later. At that point, we needed to address more pressing matters, like taking Paquito to the vet because he had a cough that would not go way. So on December 31st out we go to the appointment with Paquito hidden in a bag to avoid inquisitive eyes. In case you are wondering, I know the exact date of his visit because I still have the bill! So after chest x-rays and other tests, the vet said he had bronchitis that could turn into pneumonia among other things, and that due to his condition he had a 50-50 chance of making it. This was distressing news as we had just welcomed Paquito as a brand new member of our small family. So we followed the vet’s directions to the letter and after a few more visits and with Paquito being the little fighter that he was, he started to blossom into this gorgeous, gentle, loving, beautiful dog that filled our lives with joy and laughter. And yes, after a HUGE fight with the condo commandos, Paquito was allowed to stay with us, making him the first dog to be legally allowed in our building! And thanks to Paquito, our condominium has now become pet friendly!!
And so time went by, David graduated from college and moved out very close by and Paquito stayed with me. He was my faithful companion for so many years, and wherever I went, he went. One of our favorite places to go to was the Florida Keys; from Key Largo to Key West, together we would chill on the beach and we would watch the most beautiful sunsets; he would go with me to all the restaurants I went to in the Keys (and in Miami) and he was always welcome as he was so well mannered. One of the best places where we would stay in was this cute hotel in Key Largo, on the bay side. The place is pet friendly and it has its own little beach where dogs can run free. You can watch the most amazing sunsets from there and there is a very cool restaurant right next door, where they sound a big horn in celebration when the sun is going down and they play live music. Many times we would go there with my dearly departed friend Roger, who was also a great friend of Paco’s and we would all have such a good time together.
Paquito also loved to be out on the water, so we would often go out on our boat or on a friend’s sailboat, which he enjoyed. All you had to do was mention the word “boat” and he would start to bark and to look for his carrier, which I would leave open for him to get in. And in he would stay while we got ready, as if to make sure he would not be left behind! Many were the times when Roger, Paquito and I and sometimes David went out on the boat to an island on the Intracoastal Waterway which is only about a 20 minute boat ride from where we live. We would beach the boat there and Paquito would run free on the island, meeting new friends who were also running free on the beach. Roger and I would always toast with wine and played music on the boat, and it was such a wonderful and enjoyable time. But we had to keep a watchful eye on Paquito, because he liked to go deeper into the island and there were plenty of raccoons there that made the island their home!
Also, David and I liked going to Disney World around Christmas or New Year's, and we would stay in a nice pet friendly hotel with Paquito. We of course could not take him to the parks but we would take him to Downtown Disney (Disney Springs) on his stroller wearing his little red coat; last time we did this was Christmas 2019. Paquito would put a smile on everyone’s face and as usual, the kids would just stop to pet him.
Another one of our unforgettable trips was in August, 2017. The much anticipated solar eclipse would be fully visible from South Carolina, the closest place to us as it would be only partially visible in South Florida; so a friend and I decided to drive up there to see the total eclipse. Unfortunately, Paquito had fallen from a bed and broken his little leg. But that did not stop us from driving up with our friend. David and his girlfriend were flying to a cottage in Tennessee for the eclipse so I could not leave him with them. Paquito’s little leg was on a cast but he could hop around; however, I would mostly carry him in my arms or in his Pet Gear backpack/car seat/carrier, etc. After an overnight stop in Jacksonville where we visited friends, another overnight stop in Daytona Beach and a last stop in Augusta, Georgia, a beautiful and historic city by a river along which we took a nice stroll and where we also spent the night, we finally made it to South Carolina where we able to watch the eclipse in a beautiful park by a lake; as the sun was being eclipsed by the moon and the diamond ring appeared in the sky, I was holding Paquito in my arms.
And like these, there are so, so many memories of us enjoying life together, taking it all in, and sharing the deepest of bonds between us; these memories will always stay in my heart and I will cherish them forever.
Paquito was a gentle, loving soul who taught me many lessons. The unconditional love I felt for him lead me to find this incredible strength within me so I could help him during the final months of his life on this earth. I am so very grateful to those that helped me care for him, especially the holistic vet and acupuncturist, Dr. Jessie, who gave me hope when all the others had given up. Thanks to her advice and care, my determination and perseverance and Paquito’s will to live, he was able to stay by my side for many more months. I gave him my all and more; and it so very rewarding to know that he was happy and stable and felt so loved and cared for; and that David and I were right there with him until he was ready to move on to the Other Side.
And as we reach the end of this story that will always live in my heart, I realize how difficult it is to put a lifetime into words, and to be able to express one's deepest feelings in a few lines. It is with a heart full of love, my beloved friend Paquito, that I thank you for having shared your life with me; I thank you for your unconditional love and for your companionship; I thank you for loving me and accepting me for who I am; and I thank you for making me a better person. You were such a great part of my life and I will always love you and miss you. And although my heart aches, I find solace in knowing that one day we will be together my sweet angel, never to part again.
“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran