Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Eulogy for 'The Sweetest Dog'
In 40 years of marriage, my wife and I had a dog for about seven and a half years. You wouldn't think four paws would have such an impact on us. But this morning, after I had dug a grave in the dark last night and had laid our sweet Little Bear into the earth, our house echoes with emptiness. Throughout my interrupted sleep, I kept expecting to hear her shuffling about on the floor beside our bed, scratching for a comfortable spot. This morning, as I went to the shower, I did not have to step around her. As I went downstairs, it was only my two feet I heard on the steps. There was no reason to open the back door, no need to step aside so that a blur of fur could rush outside, but I walked out the back door anyway, walked over to the mound of earth I had piled atop her body and felt an immeasurable loss.
When I arrived home last night, my wife had just taken Little Bear for a walk, which always delighted our dog. An hour or so later, Bear was wandering around outside instead of curling up near us inside — very strange behavior for this dog. We looked closer and realized she was panting heavily and was unsteady on her feet. She was weak and dazed. I lay down beside Bear on the floor and told my wife, "I think she's dying." We rushed her to the emergency vet, who immediately diagnosed abdominal bloating caused by stomach torquing. Emergency surgery might save her, but she was unlikely to survive the surgery. We opted to relieve her pain and tearfully say goodbye.
My wife and I have a habit of sitting on the deck on evenings when it's neither too hot nor too cool and watching the sun dip below the trees and then fully disappear into darkness. Because Bear had always been our quiet, contented companion on those evenings, I don't know whether we will be able to enjoy sitting on the deck in the evening again.
We buried her within sight of the deck, where we can look out at her resting place and think of her as keeping us company, quietly uncomplaining, "the sweetest dog."