I’m back. Sorry about the hiatus. My dog became very suddenly ill and after a week of fighting to save him, we had to let him go.

After that I needed to emotionally shut down for a bit and spend time with friends and family. Making Panic Attack! requires me to be emotionally raw and I wasn’t able to be vulnerable without completely falling apart until now.

Losing someone puts everything in sharp perspective. I came back from the vet, looked at my apartment and realized I didn’t give a shit about anything in it. The only reason the place felt like home was that it’s where I do art and where my wife and dog lived and since my wife could come with me we left for a while.

First we went to the Russian River with some friends and then to LA to see the Breaking Bad finale with the cast. I had a strong desire to upend my life completely. It was too painful to have the only thing different be the fact that my friend was no longer around.

I loved my dog as much as I have ever loved anyone. We had him since just after my wife and I moved in together in college. He sat next to me on the couch while I wrote and designed most of this comic. He was my best friend and I’ll miss him for the rest of my life.

I’m so used to having him around that for the first week, I kept thinking he was in the other room and felt guilty that I wasn’t taking care of him. That’s lessened, but last night, while making dinner, I thought I saw him sitting in the spot he always liked to watch me cook. It was a box of beer.

Walking through the front door to a hug from my wife and my dog losing his mind with excitement was the happiest moment of each day. I am terrible at appreciating the good parts of my life, but I’m grateful that I recognized how lucky I was to have him in my life when he was around. I knew those moments were precious.

I wish I could have a few more of those moments. I miss petting him and playing with him. I miss watching him joyously scarf down his favorite food (fish and green beans). I miss walking him around a new part of the world and seeing him get so worked up that he couldn’t walk straight. I miss watching him run full speed towards bed because he was so excited to sleep he couldn’t wait to get there. Hell, I even miss picking up his poop.

He made me a much kinder, gentler, more empathetic person. He taught me a lot that I didn’t know about the intelligence and emotional range of animals. He taught me what it means to set aside your ego and really love and care for someone.

I’ve always been more afraid of pain than I’ve been enthusiastic about joy, but after losing him I still feel lucky he was in my life. I can now say with certainty that it’s better to put your heart on the line and ultimately have it smashed to smithereens than it is to protect yourself and never experience love in the first place. I guess that’s the last thing he got to teach me.

Thanks pal. I miss you.

Come back on October 23rd for the next page!