July 7, 2013

North Cairn: At least let this dog go to heaven

(Continued from page 1)

Frankly, I cannot focus on images of how days will go with her big, slow red presence erased from the frames. She has had many nicknames over the years -- Kodi, Kodster, Kod-Meister, Bone Head, even Ghandi -- but everyone called her Car Dog at one point or another because she made the SUV her cave, a lair in which she spent a healthy portion of her life, anticipating my return -- from work, from the grocery store, from work, from the coffee shop, from work.

She has been the fixture in my heart, in my home, in my understanding, education and experience of life, for a decade. In part because her health was an almost constant challenge since puppyhood, our time together involved chronic attention, a symbiosis that creates a charged and emotional bond, a fight every hour to hold your happiness and heart in check -- and each other in sight.

I have been watching my dog die for years, it seems, the anxious fate of having an epileptic animal as companion and friend. I have sat with her for many hours over the years as she quaked and roiled, lay on her side and paddled with her massive uncontrollable paws. I have told her a hundred times to go if she wanted, praised her with Homeric monotony, stroked her red hair thick as bear fur, sang back to her the beauty and devotion, energy and antics that filled our times together.

"How I pity someone who has never loved a dog," I grieved aloud one evening to no one but the night -- the woods and earth beyond the walls, the water and air an everlasting emptiness into which she likely will already have been welcomed before these words, swiftly stenciled on newsprint, live for a day and let me whisper a soft goodbye.

Everything is electric during these last moments, the sunlight on the leaves seeming to turn the trees to glass, the air literally shimmering with heat off the asphalt, the hush of the evening rain, the tumbleweeds of dog hair rolling like bits of fog across the wood floor. I am seeing it all as though for the last time, making a checklist of things to do before the dog goes -- picking up stuffed toys, piling water bowls in the dishwasher, throwing away the hated, seldom-used leash -- because I already know that too many remnants left behind will undo me when I come home alone.

That's it, you know: alone. It is not a state of being I fear or prefer; nor is it punishment, nor fate. It is a simple fact in passing, the dark figure waiting in the wings. But in time, even solitude spreads over you like a twilight shroud -- a darkness brightened with a thousand faraway stars of memory and devotion.

She is my finest hour, I have so often thought, my one-in-a-million achievement, her many stellar moments as piercing as a shimmering constellation the dark, grief-ridden canopy of my heart.

Now there is just one more thing to do for her, and that will be done soon enough, will arrive without pain, delivering relief from a fearful disease that neglect had implanted in her before she ever left her litter to become part of my pack. But in desolation as in mercy, there is only what subsides and that which remains.

She knows how I love her, she trusts that I will ease the affliction. She sleeps each night on my clogs, clinging to the bed frame, so that I cannot rise or leave without her waking. She is at peace in my protection; she can drop off without worry, drop out at any time.

Not so, perhaps, for me, but here in the dark, and after, there is nothing more to say.

North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:



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