When I was in eighth grade, my family's dog Sam died. Sam was black and white and had a funny shape on his back we said looked like a bird. On vacations, he often stretched out on the back seat of the car while we kids sat on the floor. He was sturdy and sweet and we loved him dearly.
The day he died, I wrote this in my diary with the pink cover: "Sam died. Best dog that ever lived."
If I still kept a diary, I would have written this on Tuesday: "Sally died. Sweetest dog in the world."
(Obviously, I deal with superlatives when it comes to dogs I love.)
Sally almost died over Thanksgiving. We thought she was close two weeks ago. But this little Lazarus dog pulled through both times. I'd look at her, and somehow know it wasn't her time. She just wasn't ready.
But Tuesday was different. Something about how she lay on her red blanket. Her cloudy eyes. Her tail that didn't wag every time she heard her name. How, even when I brushed her exactly as I'd done the day before, I never did hit her tickle spot.
My friend Kim crossed the street yesterday to talk about Sally. She reminded me that we humans are given a gift, albeit a bittersweet one: To determine the fate of these creatures who make our lives whole. To decide when this life just isn't good enough for them. To put aside our own pain and realize releasing theirs is more important than anything else.
I still can't quite grasp that Sally, who asked for nothing and was grateful for everything, is gone. I'm sure there will be many times I'll still hear her toenails on the floor. I'll sense her presence when I roll a hard-boiled egg to open it and expect to see her sit so she can catch the yolk I toss her way. I'll see her brown eyes forever.
And in my memory and my dreams, I'll watch her tail wag while I give my litany -- whispered now, or soundless in my heart:
"Who," I'd ask, "is so sweet...[wag wag]...and so smart[wag wag]...so pretty [wag wag]...so loyal [wag wag]...so kind [wag wag]...so wise [wag wag]...so brave [wag wag]...so much fun to be around."
And then with a dramatic flourish, I'd add, "And sooo stinky?! But that's OK. [huge wag]."
Godspeed to our Sally. Sweetest girl in the world.
An Older Dad, Down for the Count
1 day ago