There’s something about losing a pet that is debilitating. They just change the atmosphere of everything, don’t they? And now I find that in a life that revolved entirely around my dog, I’m still left doing all the things that you do when you have a dog around…pushing food to the centre of the countertop where he can’t reach it, making sure all my pens are in my drawer (because he loved to chew them!), opening food packages quietly so he didn’t nearly mow me over to get a whiff. All of these things feel like a group of habits I just can’t break.
I can’t stop looking at the spot on my floor where he died. I can’t clean up the slobber mark from where his tongue lolled out of his mouth once he passed. I can’t get the image out of my head of his whole body seizing, me screaming as I tried to carry him to the car to go to the vet and then falling with him in my arms, laying in my grass in the front yard, crying into his fur, knowing it would be the last time that I would hug him where he would be warm.
And I have so many questions. Why couldn’t I save him? Had he been sick for a while and I hadn’t noticed? Had he eaten something? Would he have been okay if I had stayed with him the night before? Was he craving my touch but I was too busy unpacking to be bothered? Did I cuddle him enough before he left me? Did he suffer? Did he know I was there? Did he know I loved him more than anything?
But then I think of the happy memories and I know that Duncan had the most happy of lives, even though it was far too short. Every night, I would check the weather. If it was going to be sunny, I would put his bed next to the window so he could lay in the sun (no one loves the heat more than Duncan). If it was going to rain or snow, I would put his bed next to the heat vent so he could be warm. I took him to dog parks. I walked him everyday. I made sure I never went out on weeknights since I had already been away all day working. Every weekend, I tried to take him on a walk somewhere different instead of our usual neighbourhood route. I continue to look at his nose-prints on the windows and car doors, and smile. Ha, even writing it all out and rereading it makes me realize I am indeed a Crazy Dog Lady. But there’s no other label I’d rather have.
There will come a day when I get a new puppy. I don’t know when that day is, but I know it will come. Because I have too much love to give to an animal who needs it and the house lack something without the wagging of a tail. Until then, I’ll continue to listen to the silence of my house and miss the joy that Duncan brought along with all his precious noise.
To the staff of the Princess Animal Hospital, your professionalism never broke and I know you worked hard to save him. I was touched by your tears and your shared sadness about the loveable creature I lost.
Duncan, I will think of you always. I will miss the shuffling of your feet, the goofiness of your “bully-runs”, and the sweetness of our cuddles. I will miss every part of you. You were never an inconvenience but always the brightest part of my day.
I’ll see you on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.