When I first brought him home he’d make me cry frequently — incorrigible, aggressive, dominant. What is a little puppy doing confronting an adult with a full aggressive pucker? Get in your crate. I’d made a mistake — I’d call the breeder, I’d talk to the vet, I’d consult trainers.
Eventually I even changed careers – he taught me a lot about dog training, dogs, dominant behavior and aggression.
Smart…he was an eerily smart dog. I used to make jokes that he was an ex-lover from a previous life, spurned and now returned to make my live miserable. For revenge.
The puppy and young dog that caused so many tears and frustration, as he matured, didn’t like me to cry. He’d sit close to me, and if a dog could look worried he would.
So as I held you knowing the vet would be coming in to give you the final injection, I did my best not to cry…I choked back sobs and my throat tightened. It mostly worked, just a few tears ran down my cheeks and landed on your head. I whipped them away, you snored peacefully — I knew it was the right thing to do.
You had cancer, you were losing feeling in your back legs, beginning to chew on them – you were such a proud dog not letting me help you down the stairs. Still going on your daily walks but beginning to fall more and more often. I didn’t want to put you on another medication, didn’t want you to suffer — I let you go when you could still walk, still smile with that handsome canine grin. Brave soul no more suffering.
But I am crying now – often. I vacuumed your hair off the mats that I had put down so you could keep your footing on the hardwood floors and I collapsed into a ball, sobs shaking my body, calling for you. I have never cried so hard or often not when friends or family members have died. A dog. Silly and Bliss worry about me now they sit close. Luna looks for you — the parrot calls your name. I walk and think about you and cry, I’m driving and I start to cry…I cry now writing about it all.
Nearly 14 years is a long life, and 14 years is a long time to have you by my side at home, at work.
And I cried when I picked you up…my beautiful dog now residing in a cardboard box. Not fair, not right – surreal. The flowers the vet clinic sent are almost completely withered – still I grieve.
We are so informed by pain – nothing seems to inform us on how to live like pain does, like loss does we are reminded to be appreciative, to be grateful, to live in the moment. I am so glad I loved you this much – to miss you this much. And there will be a time when I will hurt less but right now it does not feel like I will ever shed the last tear.
Galway Kinnell, “Crying”
Crying only a little bit
is no use. You must cry
until your pillow is soaked!
Then you can get up and laugh.
Then you can jump in the shower
Then you can throw open your window
and, “Ha ha! ha ha!”
And if people say, “Hey,
what’s going on up there?”
“Ha ha!” sing back, “Happiness
was hiding in the last tear!
I wept it! Ha ha!”
I think Mr. Kinnell was thinking about ex lovers, not dogs when he wrote his poem.