Friday, April 22, 2011

Not A Day Goes By…

It was this month last year that my husband and I took our beloved canine to the specialty wonder doctor we thought would turn her health around.

We waited at a lunch joint (called “Poochie’s”) across the street from the animal hospital while the doc conducted a battery of tests and MRIs. We returned to the vet’s office only to see the wonder doc in tears.

She revealed her diagnosis slowly, opening with news we already knew: “She’s the sweetest, most loving dog. No matter what indignities I imposed upon her, she was patient and kept giving me her paw or nosing me for a pet.” Then the doc told us what our regular vets had assured us wasn’t happening: “She’s in a great deal of pain.” The wonder doc proceeded to tell us all the options we had—none of them hopeful, all of them traumatizing.

We made what we thought was the humane choice. We sat on the hospital floor, hugging and holding our first and only dog while the doc administered a drug to calm her. After some time, the doc asked us, “Are you ready for me to give her the final drug?”

How do you answer that?

After our initial bewilderment, we nodded our heads to give the go-ahead. In seconds, she was gone. And we headed home without her—our shadow, our herder, our I’ll-make-everything-all-right-for-you-always companion.

The subtraction of her presence from our days felt surreal. As Donald Hall wrote in “Distressed Haiku”:

You think that their
dying is the worst
thing that could happen.

Then they stay dead.

For years, I had counted on our pooch breaking all the longevity records and living longer than the average age for dogs of her size. But then what?

Was she ever going to reach that magic number where I would say, “Ah, yes. That’s a long-enough life. I’m ready to let her go now”? Not likely. Her passing would always be too soon.

Every day I half expect to see her again, the Heart O’ My Heart. Every day I have to remind myself that after her untimely death, she stayed dead.

Note: We have precious few photos of our pooch because cameras scared her.

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