Dear Goddamned Dog,
I’m writing now as I will from now on, to the empty corners of every room, to the dozen years past, to the millions of things and places that will forever remind me of you.
Though your world got smaller these last few years, this house was your universe, and it was wide. You helped host parties of all sizes, of all crowds, from trainer Salons, to think tanks, to fancy interviews, to the annual Christmas bash of laughing, talking, running, careening children and delightfully careless adults, whose booze consumption made for lots of dropped treats and conveniently deposited plates.
You welcomed and trained visitors from around the globe, showing them friendship and where the cookies were, how many to give, and filling them in on the pizza and dinner-sharing rules around here.
You greeted all tradesmen with your delayed “Barooo” of welcome and bossiness, but only after they were well into the hall: that ladder will go there; drop the bag there, you will go no further until we’ve said hello, and then I’ll show you were she keeps the cash.
You joined in your Things’ events with all their friends, equally your Things in your mind, equally careless with Cheetos and chips and always your favorite place to be, surrounded by the boys you’d loved from grade school to university, accepting all new comers and girlfriends and additional members of the crowd as your own.
You were my constant. In my strange life of busy isolation, crowded with Facebook and email and messages coming through this computer but alone here for days, sometimes weeks on end, you remained my office mate and family. Where I went you went, spending the day on your bed in my office, following me to the living room in the evening, to the kitchen when I’d go for tea or coffee. Your head, wedge-shaped for a reason, would separate me from the counter and the cutting board at meal time, but if I told you to back off you’d wait patiently as I prepped our veggies and shared them with you.
The boys would scold me for “teaching you to beg” but we both knew this was not true. I was simply training hope.
Your breathing, the last thing I’d hear at night, the first thing in the morning and everything in between, assured me that I was not alone, and rocked me back to sleep between your restless bouts of movement and cookie therapy.
You suffered no fear your last day, Addie, the powerful and mega-dosed drugs finally finding it. How long had it been since we’d had a day like that? Though your injury robbed you of the ability to move, your Thing 2 came back from college, and you knew we’d take care of you and everything you’d need. You were finally away from the pain and the fear and the licking and discomfort that you endured for so long. We carried you up for one last night of your lullaby into the room we shared together, and you slept.
I got you all the Good Bs: burger and bananas and butter, your favorite thing in the world. Remember when we were training in Obedience, Goddamned Dog, when you thought go-outs were pointless, so I put a little butter on the target and you got it in one try? You ate your whipped cream out of the canister this morning just like at Thanksgiving, a little slow to catch it as it foamed out, but you caught it just the same. You tried to get up when you heard me cooking and the dishwasher open, your duties as sous chef and pre-washer not forgotten.
We lay with you, and some of your friends called to send you love and peace. You had a lot of friends, and you loved them all. You went easily – I’d been so worried that you’d fight it like you’ve fought so hard for so long, but you rested, and then you left.
It’s always an event, puppy, when we humans lose a friend or a family member. We gather around each other, we try to help, we cry. Then time moves along, new things happen, life goes on. But it will go on forever without you now, without your soft fur and floppy ears, your talking and your bossing around, your annoyances and quirks, your funny ways and your strength, your love and your kindness and your company. That is something I just can’t fathom.
Thank you, my Goddamned Dog.