July 13, 2014 § 11 Comments
And it’s true.
Get a dog and you commit to loving a member of a short-lived species. Not gerbil-short, but far shorter than your own expected life span.
Better to love a tortoise or a parrot.
And yet most of us choose a dog, because between the first tick of that clock and the last is an unconditional friendship not possible with a member of any other species, including our own.
Most of the credit for that belongs to the dog.
Uncritical, appreciative, ready to do whatever you want to do. Just open the car door and the dog jumps in.
A dog doesn’t keep score or hold a grudge. A dog gives you the benefit of the doubt, even if you’ve repeatedly proved you don’t deserve it.
It’s a shame we are so convinced of our superiority. We could learn a lot from the dog.
Across a lifetime most people have several, including the one who pees on the rug, the one who barks too much, but among those dogs is usually one who is The Dog.
Ours was Moo.
The clock to heartbreak ran out almost two months ago–it has taken me this long to find the courage to write about her.
Two months later, there are still vacancies everywhere.
Where her bed should be is bare floor.
Her dishes in the kitchen, the water dish in a deep pot because she was a slurper—gone.
Moo was an Australian Cattle dog, a constant shedder. Most of the tumbleweeds of fur have been vacuumed up and when I find one it makes me cry.
But it is the vacancies in our daily routines that break our hearts.
Now Ray goes out to Bluebird, our land in Wakulla County, without the pal who used to run ahead on the path, bolt off into the adjoining Corbett’s land chasing the scent of a deer. He no longer sees the white flag of Moo’s tail above the high grass.
She is a sadder, quieter part of his daily ramble as he follows the path along the edge of the meadow that goes by her grave.
I walk our home neighborhood no longer tethered to a being who follows the suggestions of her nose far more than her eyes, smelling spots on the ground that, to me, look like every other spot on the ground. Moo was my window into another kind of consciousness.
Every walk, Moo would trot off the road and into the grass where she would fall luxuriously on her side, then, rolling onto her back, kick all four paws in the air.
Each time the joy she demonstrated was huge.
She reminded me what living in the now means.
I miss her pointy ears. I miss her stepping over me as I lie on the floor stretching. I miss running my hand over the coarse guard hairs on her back.
Sometimes, just for a moment, habit overrides memory and I think, I’d better go home and feed Moo. Cloudy with sleep, Ray still steps over her spot on the floor at the foot of our bed.
As we adjust to life without her there are small consolations. This is the first summer she won’t have to endure in that thick fur coat, the first fourth of July she won’t quake and drool as the neighbors set off fire crackers in the street. I guess it is a human saving grace to look for the good, even when there isn’t much.
As near as we can guess Moo died at about seventeen. Seventeen is as close to forever as most of life’s moments of grace last.
People say, “Get another dog. There are so many that could use a good home.”
I bet we will, one of these days, but like the decision to remarry after the death of a spouse, the decision to re-dog is hard. It is not a dog we are grieving but a family member.
The chance of our getting another Moo is zero. Moo was not a dog.
Moo was The Dog.
Note: To read about Moo in her glory days take a look at an earlier post, A boy and his dog.