Saturday, July 23, 2011
Cast of Characters
I'm one of those people that "forges on" when things get difficult. I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to deal with my losses, I don't want a hug. When I need to talk about some ache that feels too big, I just want to put my arms around my dog and press my face into his fur.
I've lost dogs before. I got a little terrier mix from a shelter when I was 20, and I held her when I was about 30 as they put her to sleep. I lost one to a divorce, and found out later she was dropped at a shelter (rather than given back to me.) I lost the best companion off my childhood, a vicious Dobie-GSD-something-huge mix named Nibbles (not kidding) who passed away when I was in college.
And still, those were Before.
I've always liked dogs. What's not to like? They listen as if you're brilliant, they love everything you feed to them, they think you're a genius, they care when no one else does.
And then I met Drive. And just like that, dogs ascended in my view. I understood "dog people." I became one of them. There can never be another Drive, I know that, but never again in my life will I be without a dog. Actually, just the idea of having only one dog seems a little strange, but that's a matter of finance rather than preference for me. When I think of my future, of the "lifestyle" track I want to be on, there's dogs everywhere in my imagination. When I answer the question of a hypothetical lottery win, I get teary-eyed thinking of all the puppies! With a million dollars I could save so many puppies...
lose a pet a couple of months ago. I lost a person. I lost a living soul who took up a big space in my world and now, all these weeks later and after an emotional few days, it's hitting me how much I miss my Bullie.
I'm not even going to put his picture on this post; I linked to it up there with his good-bye post. Even looking at that makes me remember, I was holding him when he passed. I was looking into his eyes when the lights in them faded.
We go to McDonald's, and buy the $1 box of four chicken nuggets. I hand the extra one to my husband.
"What are you doing?"
"That's the extra one. You can eat it."
And about then, I remember that we only have two dogs. That they can just have two damned nuggets apiece and there's no extra anymore.
And then I think of Drive, who is 11. And Lanie, who is 12. And I take a breath and remind myself that I'm strong enough to love this much and then say goodbye.
Bullie was almost 9 when we (accidentally, I'm serious) adopted him. It was a few years for us, that's all. A couple years with an old stripey dog, followed by months of this heavy, pushing grief and a place for him in my heart forever.
It's worth it, because for Bulldozer, it was the rest of his life. He did not die a lonely and unloved dog in a shelter. He didn't spend his remaining time in a kennel waiting for someone to want an old, shy dog that didn't attach quickly or trust easily. He died held by arms that loved him. Someone wept for him, and still does. He died with toys. He died after a thousand wonderful meals and uncountable treats. The rest of his life was warm, loving, interesting, and full of delicious surprises.
It's worth it.