I am near the end of this pet-sitting visit. Another day or so, and you’ll be free of me. I “say” this, that you’ll be free of me, as you rest comfortably on my lap, listening to the BBC and avoiding being upset by your pet brethren who surround us in various states of repose.
You and I formed a new bond on this visit. If I miss saying goodnight to you, you sit outside the bedroom door crying until I participate in the ritual. Then you are happy and go off to do whatever it is that you do while the dogs and I sleep.
You are a sweet cat. I enjoy my time with you. You’re also sneaky, ducking your head in at the food while I prepare it, trying to get a quick bite. You make me me laugh.
… and I still miss him as if it were yesterday. Each morning I wake up, and this photo greets me from the wall across from my bed. A friend got me Walking With Zeke, by Chris Clarke (of Creek Running North fame). Clarke writes
And he was sometimes taken for granted, an occupational hazard of being so steadfast, so trustworthy. While I never for a moment in more than 15 years forgot how much I loved my dog, I count myself as lucky that I came to realize, late in his life, just how profoundly he had affected me.
I had lunch with three women today, all dog owners and lovers, who spoke with such care about the dogs in their lives. Then one stopped, leaned toward me, and said, “Tell me about your dog. I know you lost him recently. I want to know about him.” I struggled not to let tears well.
This is the plain truth: Dakota irritated me beyond reason when he begged for food, when he pulled trash out of the garbage cans, when he ate too much and then threw up. But I wouldn’t trade any of those things for the joys he brought me. For the unconditional love, the friendship, the listening. I can’t tell you how many times he would lay his head on me when I cried, getting close to me, almost as if he knew I needed to be loved. Or how I would wake up with sore hips because he laid so close to me in bed that I couldn’t move — and how I didn’t mind those sore hips because it meant I was loved. Or how he made me laugh when we played tug-of-war with his favorite toys, or when he burrowed through the snow, popping up like a “whack-the-mole” 20 feet later, with snow on his nose.
I still love my boy. He taught me so much about myself and about love, just when I needed it.
It’s been a rough year, Dakota. I’ve missed loving on you. I’ve missed talking to you. I don’t cry every time I talk about you anymore. Instead, I smile, and remember, and love you all the more.
I love this video. I wish I had found it during the holiday season because I would have sent it out as a greeting.
It’s silly, I know. It reminds me of Dakota, though, and how he, too, would burrow through the snow just like Bailey does. He had done it since he was a puppy and it would make me laugh. He would disappear into the snow and pop out like a jack-in-the-box twenty feet away. The way he would do it was hilarious because it was like he was wondering why I didn’t following him under the snow.
Even as he got older and his bones started hurting him more, he still loved the snow. He still loved running and playing in it, loved pushing his nose along in it and then snort the snow off of it, like it was a wonder that the snow stuck to that wet nose.
It’s been a rough month. I know. You probably don’t want to hear one more story about Dakota. I’m sure you don’t. His passing has left such a hole in my life, though.
I miss curling up with him on weekends. I miss getting his kisses when I came home from wherever I went. I miss seeing him playing in the snow.
I worry that I didn’t give him a good enough life, that I didn’t treat him as well as I could have. Maybe I yelled too much. Maybe I punished him too harshly. Maybe I didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt as much as I could have.
And all of my doctoral applications were due (and I got them in). My gosh is that a lot of stress. I didn’t get much time to grieve because I had to get those done.
And as I said, my grandfather was terminally ill. He passed on Thursday. I think that everything I’ve been holding in, from Dakota’s passing to the stress of the applications, my thesis, and work, to my grandfather’s passing have all come out this weekend. I’ve had these bouts of intense crying that haven’t been duplicated in years. I haven’t cried like this in such a long time.
I am going to miss my grandfather. I’m going to miss his emails and his voice. I’m going to miss his presence in my life.
I miss my little guy so much that it physically hurts sometimes. I ache from the loss.
My grandma and I were talking yesterday. She said, “In our family, we laugh just as hard as we cry and we’re able to do both extremely well.” I replied to her that I’d rather be able to laugh and cry because it means I’m alive.
I just wish the crying didn’t accompany hurt. The hurt is overwhelming sometimes.
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But…you’ve given your heart for a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart for the dog to tear.
We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ‘em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long–
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?
I was in Loveland, Colorado, from Sunday through yesterday (well, Sunday and Wednesday were spent on the road, driving). When we got back last night, I was told that I should get to my mom’s house because Dakota wasn’t doing well.She said that he had almost gone. He perked up a bit when I got into the house, letting me love on him and talk to him. His breathing seemed to calm a bit. But then he kept struggling, like he was struggling against some unknown force.
My baby passed away last night, less than an hour after I had gotten home from the Colorado trip.
Maybe he was holding on to say goodbye. Maybe he was waiting to get one final dose of love. Whatever it was, I was able to hold him one last time, tell him that I loved him, and tell him that he was the best dog a girl could have.
He was my baby and I will miss him so much more than I can say. My bed is a lonelier place without him. My house is not as much fun to be in. My heart is a bit heavier today.
RIP my boy, my buddy. I will miss you so much more than I can say.
I don’t typically go for the kitty is cute kinds of things. Cats are ok. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just not a big cat person and I would choose a dog over a cat anytime (and not a froo-froo dog, either…has to be medium to large-ish).
This, however, is cute. I know. Cute. On a Monday morning. Ugh. But really. It is.
Cute, that is, until the cat goes for the JUGULAR. Sheesh.
She was the most gentle, sweet dog that you could meet. Weighing over 100 lbs, she was still able to be gentle and generous with her sweetness.
The kids would tug on her ears and her tail. They would push her. They would get in her face. They would drape themselves over her large Great Pyrenees body. She always took it and never snapped or growled.
Britney was my brother’s dog but I loved her as if she were my own. I remember when she became a part of the family. She was a beautiful, fluffy little ball with tannish-gray ears. She terrorized Bailey (a year her senior) and continued to do so for the rest of her life.
Britney lived nearly 12 years (her birthday would have been in August) and for those twelve years, she was loved and cherished.
Whenever my brother spoke a key term, she would bark. She didn’t do anything but bark and it was more like “bark, Brit.”
Brit gave delicate, sweet kisses — but was picky about who she gave them to. I count myself fortunate to be one of those people.
Britney passed away this morning after some issues with her thyroids and weight. My sister-in-law, Cathy, was with her and my brother, Todd, arrived home from work shortly after. She was cremated.
Do most parents feel like this? I mean, I know my brother does. There is nothing that he likes more than to spend time at home with his kids and his wife. He has told me that he doesn’t live to work. He works in order to spend more quality time with his family. The more successful he becomes in his career, the more time he is able to spend with his family. I want that.
I know, I know…my kid is Dakota. But he is the best dang kid. Seriously. If I could hang out with him all day, I’d be happy. He makes me happy. The way he loves on me and gives me kisses. The way he tolerates me photographing him. The way he rolls over on his back and looks at me from that upside down place. It all makes me smile. And it makes me want to hang out with him.
So, when I read about a summer camp for dogs, I am head over heels. Because, get this, the catch is that you don’t just drop them off. You hang out with them. You spend time, bonding with your canine companion.
Yeah, the goal is to have a relaxing week with your dog. And sure, I could do that for free (sans the $1000 a week fee) at home or anywhere else I chose to take him. But it’s a special thing geared towards my boy and me! How cool is that?
Now, if I could just figure out how to get Dakota to press the button to do photographs, we’d be in blissful sync.
Youngguy and I had made plans to do something this coming weekend. He asked if I’d like to go snowshoeing – and in one of my favorite areas around town. He even suggested that I bring my camera.
Whoa. Does he know what he’s getting into when he says that?
But, alas, my tumble down icy incline precludes me from wanting to take any chances with falling down an icy mountain wearing snowshoes and carrying my new camera.
So I wrote and asked if we could change our plans. We had previously discussed sushi and/or taking our dogs on a walk.
Oh, our dogs – our kids – our boys. Me – a beautiful old man of a beagle. Him – a beautiful young man of a fox hound. A short-legged fox hound and a long-legged beagle. Fox hounds are my second favorite dog behind the beagle. They look just like beagles but with long legs. Beautiful dogs.
Our boys are very similar in nature. They have that playfulness of hounds but they are both also more submissive and don’t get excited about being the alpha males. While they haven’t met yet, we have a feeling they would get along great.
So, when he wrote back, he asked me to choose between sushi and the walk. He said he thought he knew which one Frank (his fox hound) and Dakota would choose. And then he said that Frank has actually had sushi and will share the story later.
I didn’t tell him that Dakota loves edamame. He is cuckoo over it. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. He actually takes the pods and squeezes the edamame out of them, leaving me the pods to clean up. It’s hilarious.
But, instead, I suggested the walk and perhaps taking along sandwiches or something.
Maybe next time Dakota and Frank can join us for sushi.