She is resting on the couch next to me breathing, sometimes with difficulty, but alive. She’s an old Lab. She’s been my dog for almost 14 years. A long, intense life for a dog. Much less for me, but I recall most of those years fondly.
She was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. Cancer of the mouth. You can see it growing every day. It defeated two surgical attempts to fight it.
Of course, she’s just a dog. She’s my dog. I sense she will be even more acutely so when the time comes, very soon, to say goodbye. What is so difficult about saying adieu to “just a dog’’?
Not so long ago, you hid the fact that you mourned your dog or your cat. It was seen as not being “serious’’ grief. What’s not serious about grieving for all those moments of pure joy spent with your dog walking in the woods in the beauty of a summer day’s sunny dawn, in the glory of the autumn glow or the white magic of a winter day after the snow? Moments you may never have experienced without a jumping dog with you.
What’s not serious about grieving that creature wanting you to love her, to care for her, to make sure you keep her warm, you feed her, more please! That creature expresses the will to live. She depends on you. This is what makes it so essential and so difficult when the time comes to part with these “obligations’’.
Her brown eyes are shining at me now as I write these lines and as she tries to rest her head on the computer keyboard and confuse the hell out of the machine.
She’s just a dog after all.
Maybe that’s why we grieve them. Because they don’t care about computers, they don’t care about anything but the attention they want and can force from us and all that they give us back. Until they are no longer there.
Today, I said goodbye. Two days before she would have turned 15. To me, you will always be a lot more than “just a dog’’.