Both my dogs 8 and 10 died roughly within a year of each other, tragically and abruptly. Dante the old boy just two weeks ago. I think the cheap food from Wal-Mart, Old Roys, is what killed them, gave them cancer.
Cujo, the younger dog just quit walking one day. Then miraculously started walking again, and then stopped again. We watched him for several weeks deteriorating on our kitchen floor. I would wrap a towel under his back legs and carry him in and out the house. He’d piss and shit all over himself and me. Left me a hysterical, broken mess. Cried like a broken child daily. Finally I took him to the vet one sunny, beautiful spring day, hysterically crying. Like a Stone played on the radio, a devestating, yet significant synchronicity. The song had always struck me to my core, as terribly profound, and songer Chris Cornell had just comitted suicide.
Vet tech, based on my tear filled expression told me it must be my first one (it was). I wanted to spit in her face. Afterwards, I stood there awkwardly trying to compose myself to pay the fucking bill, the absurdity, a hundred some bucks to kill your dog.
Dante was fine until one day a couple weeks ago he just stopped eating, and then got super lethargic. Stupidly, we thought maybe he just had worms or something, so we took him to the vet. They did a bunch of tests, told us his kidneys were shutting down, were at near death levels. Gave him shots to maybe pep him up, took our money, said to call on Monday.
Oh, and this is so fucked up. Right before he went downhill, my wife decided to get a puppy. I have a deep, dangerous love for dogs, but after Cujo’s death I couldn’t imagine getting another one. Time had sort of softened that, but I still wasnt ready though. I punted on the issue, told my wife if she wanted one and was prepared to do the majority of work I was ok and could do my part.
We named him Cash, after Johnny, because he’s all black. He’s a Husky/Lab mix and has different colored eyes. We thought it would be good to introduce old dog and new dog, give old boy a buddy, get him moving again. Then he took that turn for the worst.
After the torture with Cujo we realized we couldnt let Dante suffer like that. That we had let it go on too long for our own sake. And if a dog cant be a dog there’s no point in keeping it going yada, fucking yada. He just got worse that week after the vet visit. And one night while I was petting him, he rested his head in my palm, and told me the way dogs do, that he was going and it was okay, and he loved me and was sorry, but resigned to it.
It’s so messed up to say in a sense, but that old boy was like the foundation of my whole adult life and family. My wife and I got him in the early years of our dating, and during an extra-rocky bit of that, it’s my irrational attachment to dogs which seemed to make separation an impossibility to me (I’ll spare you the tragic explanation of that for now). And now nine years later, three kids, all that life, he was saying it was time to go.
We were gonna go that Monday. I said I would take him, no problem, but really it’s so fucking awful, if she wanted to take the licking I wouldnt fight her on it. She said she would. That Sunday night was bad for him. I laid with him under the kitchen table, and held him, whispering it was okay, that he was okay. That he was a great boy, and I understood he had to go. And it seemed to relax him. Give him some rest.
That Monday morning my two older boys got on the bus to school. And my wife got our little one ready for pre-k and then was gonna call the vet and take him up there. But then he started shaking, cramping up, whimpered and cried. Tried to get up, adjust, but couldn’t. I held his head again in my hands, told him I loved him, and it was ok, just go ahead, go to your rest.
My wife and son scrambled around. And then he was gone. I sat there and touched his now souless body. Felt his heart beat petter out. Had the insane hope that maybe I could still feel it. Knew better of course and nurse wife confirmed. Eventually, I grabbed some more towels to clean up the puddle of piss and cover him up, so my wife could take the lil one to school.
Sat there for a few minutes, crying, laying my head on him. Then I went outside. It was another beautiful morning. An early winter crisp was present, but sunny and clear skies. This time I didnt resent the day for its beauty, but appreciated it while I dug a hole for him at the back of the property. There was something about that dirt, digging it, shoving my hands into it, bringing it up to my nose, smelling it, that didnt make it better, but some how made me understand…ashes to ashes, dust to dust, dirt to dirt.
The hole was dug by the time she got back. I carried his stinking, stiff corpse to the hole and awkwardly stuffed him in there, and we worked together covering him up. We planted a hazelnut tree on top, but some critter got it that night.
I came in stripped my clothes off, showered. Went back to my bed and laid there. We made love later that morning. Desperate, needy love-making, like our relationship itself, something, anything, that could stop the hurt, but it never does. It just dulls it. Makes it manageable in the moment, but worse in the end.
I love goddamn dogs. Too much. Like women and the world itself. I would give up karmic evolution to go back to being a dog. To run, and play, fight and fuck, without reservation. To not over analyze. To be brave and loyal. To be one with the world. One with myself.