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Puppy Dog, on the right, staring me down with her intense cuteness

Never put your dog to sleep during final exams if you can avoid it.

I am capping off the most terrible week of my life. Wrapping up projects, final exams, finishing papers, packing to move, mourning my dog and missing Sailor like I never have…

“To grieve”, in the Greek translation, literally means to have been robbed. And no truer words could describe where I’m at right now. It’s been a week since Puppy Dog  passed on and I am sure everyone around me right now wishes I would simply get over it, but it is hard to move on from such a profound loss when I have been conditioned to behave in such a way that accommodates having Puppy Dog in my life.

For instance: the other night I frantically drove home from the lab because I “remembered” I hadn’t let Puppy Dog out. Every time I come home, I still call for her. When I leave, I still close all the doors in the house and put the ottoman up on the leather chair to keep Puppy from crawling up on it. I wake up several times a night because I do not hear her snoring.

And it’s not that I think about these things, I know she is gone, it’s just that this has been my life for 13 years, the majority of my adult life, these acts are second nature to me and changing now seems like a foreign, utterly alien thing to do that also feels very, very wrong.

But every day is a bit better. I stopped crying days ago. I mean, I literally stopped and can do no more. The Opthamologist  informed me that my tear ducts were so traumatized and inflamed that they basically have ceased working.

I basically cried myself dry.

But I’ll recover. I am recovering. Friends have been plying with me with company and alcohol, but I’ve stopped the drinking for now. I certainly don’t need a depressant making me feel worse than I already do. I am surrounded by truly the best possible people to get me through this, except the most important person.

And of course I worry about Sailor being away on a boat, lacking the luxury of indulging in grief as I feel we all must at some point to ever truly get passed it. If I’m feeling this bad, I’m sure he feels worse. Puppy Dog may have been my girl, but she was definitely Sailor’s soul-mate in some way I could never be.

I hope he has the same support around him. I think he does.

So I’m moving on. This old dog is learning something new as much as I hate it being forced upon me and no matter how much I just want my fucking puppy dog back. And I continue to fail in understanding why this can not be.

The brain understands that all things must die and life is a greater cycle, yadda, yadda, yadda, but the heart fails to comprehend and is insanely angry at the injustice of it all. So in the meantime, I’m consoling myself with the memories, insanely cute puppy pictures, and the funny stories that always accompanies this crazy animal I was so utterly blessed to have shared a life with.

I have ceased the tears and resigned myself to an inevitable sigh a few times a day that I’m sure signifies some thing although I’ll be damned if I know at this point what that something is.

Exhale

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“She’s gone.”

Didn’t need the vet to tell me that. Her last breath was like the sound she used to make when we rubbed her ears and then she was utterly still; still for a creature that hadn’t had a still moment in her entire long life, even while sleeping.

We’ve been preparing for this awful moment at the vet for months but what you don’t prepare for is coming home that first time and being confronted with the enormous void that now exists in the house.

Sailor flew home to be with Puppy Dog at the end and had to fly out this morning to be back at the boat. So now it’s not only that he is gone, but she is as well.

I’ve never felt Sailor’s absence so intensely. I realize this now because I had Puppy and she was an enormous vessel in which to pour in a lot of love.

But she’s gone now and all this love for her is still there. I wonder where it goes if she is not here to receive it.

I do. I have. It’s made. It’s literally eyeballing me from the calendar as I type.

After an agonizing conversation with the vet and consultations with fellow pet fanatics, Puppy Dog’s time has run out. She’s nearly twice the average age of her breed, she’s traveled far and wide, and she’s had an epic life most dogs could only dream about.

So here’s the rub: this life is being somewhat cut short. She has a good month left in her. Maybe more but that’s doubtful. However, I am moving across state in a month and Sailor is out to sea in a few weeks for the whole summer. So we’ve decided that it is more fair to have both of us with her at the end rather than put her through the stress of a possible move and/or wait until such time that she is in (what has been described to me) what will be excruciating pain.

The vet has been called. An appointment made. Services pre-paid (nothing says heartless like whipping out the credit card after a beloved companion is gone). And a flight arranged for Sailor to come home.

And it’s on the calendar. Staring me down.

It feels unfair. It feels cold and calculated. It generally just feels shitty. I tell myself that if it were me, say, if I had an inoperable brain tumor or some other such malady, I would want control. I would set a time and a place. Make myself comfortable. Be surrounded by loved ones. And hopefully go gently into that dark night.

So Puppy Dog will be given appropriate pills to make her calm and comfortable (she never did like going to the vet). She will have her bed and blanket and her favorite Sailor t-shirt. And she will be with both Sailor and I who love her to the point of insanity.

She will be cremated and her ashes will be distributed amongst Asbury Woods, the island back in Maine, her favorite woods up in Northern Michigan, and I am even sending some to a friend to be sprinkled back in Italy, where I first met and fell in love with her. A little part of her will be in every place she loved even if she is no more.

So I am trying to focus on loving her now rather that starting to miss her before she’s even gone.

Sailor’s Granny E died ten days ago and I wrote how it seemed odd to me to cry over such a good life.

Well, Puppy Dog is having a bad day. In fact, she’s having more bad days. Her back knees are going and she’s falling down. A lot. I’m getting verklempt just writing this, but I had to call Sailor (and leave a message – he’s out to sea) about our girl and what I think may be happening very soon.

I cant write it. I can’t. I can not type the words of what is likely to happen.

I know what is going to happen so very soon and I can not even give the situation the dignity of words.

Puppy Dog has had a good run. She’s has had the best run. She’s 14…6 years older than the age of the last pup in her litter to pass on. She’s been ever-loving, frustrating as hell and just here. With me. In every new house, in every new town, on every adventure. She’s been my longest most successful relationship aside from my husband.

She fell down, again, this afternoon. I had to carry her into the house when she couldn’t make the stairs. Pain pills make her sick and aspirin doesn’t do anything.

I lie down with her and I read her Rumi. I don’t why. Rumi always makes me feel better. I read her e.e. cummings, Langston Hughes, and X.J. Kennedy. I don’t know why all the poetry.

Puppy Dog managed to hobble out to front lawn where she now lies. She’s on top of the hill overlooking the squirrels and kids she usually chases or barks at. Normally, I would be out there, watching her like a hawk, but I don’t need to. I know she’s not up for the chase.

I’m letting her enjoy the evening. I’m going outside now to enjoy it with her. We have so little time left and I’m terribly greedy of every minute.

battle_of_trafalgar_poster_1805I have come to a few conclusions:

Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson: Pansy. Ghengis Khan, William the Conqueror, Alexander the Great, Oliver Hazard Perry: Mamma’s Boys.

Yeah, that’s right, I said it. And I don’t care that Admiral Lord Nelson won the Battle of Trafalgar, until said sailor dude has wrestled a 120 mastiff into 1940’s, high-side, ceramic tub with a damn slippery tile floor and ceramic commode conveniently in the way, his victories are for nothing, NOTHING, I tell you!

After spending yesterday afternoon with my in-laws and their friends drinking ourselves stupid and playing dice games, I came home to a tremendous stink in the house. Now, granted, puppy-dog was due for a bath anyway, but she got into something that I can only describe the smell as “death on a shit-stick covered in rotted-corpse sauce”.

So into the tub she went. And three hours later, we were still engaged in battle. I would no sooner have her in my sights with the soap bottle and water cannon when the dog would tack her sail and nimbly escape my grasp. Multiple escapes led to multiple chases throughout the house and basement where I would eventually corner the dog, haul her back upstairs, and back into the bathtub. More water ended up on the floor and myself than on the dog or into the tub.

This dog, my dog, has the fortitude of MacArthur, the cunning of Wellington, and the tenacity of Napoleon. With my dodgy back and alcohol fueled ill-temper, I had enough of her shenanigans and finally tethered the beast to the hot water nozzle in the tub. This of course led to a decisive victory.

..and me, lying on the living room floor, waiting for the spasms in the back to cease…

As Nelson lay dying on the deck of Victory, his reported last words were: “God and my country”.  And mine? “You are so going to groomers next time!”

It is my belief that part of being a good military leader is knowing when to call in the commandoes and mercenaries, or in this case, the dog groomer.

1. The bigger the pooch, the stinkier they get.

2. I have an awfully big pooch. That’s about 125 lbs of stink.

3. A pooch not inclined to being bathed rarely acquiesces to the process being forced upon her person.

4. Given #1, #2, and #3, I really ought invest in a crane.

5. Bathing pooches in general is bad for the back.

6. I have an awfully bad back.

7. Trying to reason with said pooch, logically, about the necessity of the bathing process rarely garners the response and cooperation I wish to receive.

8. Does anyone talk their dog as much as I do mine?

9. With the amount hair the dog seems to lose in the bathing process, and thus, clogging the tub drain, you’d really think she’d be bald by now, and hence, preventing me from enduring this regular act of torture.

10. With regards to #9, sadly, this is not the case.

#1

Why, Dog, why the poo?

Two minutes out of the house

You don’t carry it!

#2

Don’t eat that shitzu

He is one-tenth your size and

He might not taste good

#3

What’s that you rolled in?

Oh, Dog! Can’t you smell the stink?!

You’re getting Fabreezed!

Given that dog bites are one of the top injuries children suffer, I am often amazed that parents don’t teach their kids better manners when interacting with domestic pets.

Case in point: three evil cretins who reside in my neighborhood seem to think it’s amusing to run up behind me while walking the dog, shout something out thus scaring my dog, and run away while she goes nuclear-ape-shit into attack mode. This used to happen every once in a while, but it has happened twice in the last week.

Oh, yeah, it’s funny, but I’ll bet they think it’s absolutely hilarious the day I let go of her leash and let my fully grown mastiff go medieval on their asses. But, of course, that will make me the bad dog owner.

That’s right, I put my pet through countless hours of behavioral training, make sure she’s up on her shots, have her licensed through the proper authorities, keep her on a leash when out in public, and clean up after her business, but those mental defects can torment my dog to the point where she reacts as she rightly well should and she’s a bad dog and I’m the bad dog owner.

So today, walking Puppy Dog, I see the three little jackasses out of the corner of my eye. I keep notice as they stalk us through the neighborhood. They disappear behind some houses and appear to have gone. Just as I turn down the next street, we are ambushed with a kamikaze attack of yelling but their escape isn’t quite so easy. The rain and the mud has slowed them down just long enough for me to throw a fully-loaded bag of gooey dog-doo right upside the slowest little bastard’s head.

SCORE!!!

Okay, fine, I’m a bad dog owner and juvenile to boot. But at least I had a second bag with which to clean up with.

I’m giving serious thoughts to getting a Taser.

Puppy Dog is starting to venture out in the new neighborhood and get a sense of her new surroundings. It’s been too cold lately to take her for long walks, so she has been sequestered to our block where I closely monitor her and make sure she doesn’t stay out too long.

She’s a made a friend with the rottweiler down the hill. He runs up and romps about with her while she is on her tie out. I would love to be able to her roam, but Salome has always been one to take herself for walks-long walks-walkabouts even.

So today being so nice and the snow abated, we went for a good long stroll. About a half mile away from the house, Salome was attacked by another dog.

We were walking past a row of post WWII era houses and while I was admiring the brick work and Salome was sniffing some trees, a little rat dog chihuahua came bounding out of the house and promptly launched itself like a projectile missile at Salome.

Let me state at this point that Salome has never started a fight with another dog. She most certainly has finished them though. She is content to sniff about and see what is up with the other dog, but when the other dog starts a rumble, Salome has no problem putting said dog in their place. I have learned to stay out of it. Mostly because dogs have pack order and it is their nature to figure it out. Also, because it is a sure fire way to lose a finger or two. Should things get heated, I can usually pull Salome away, double up on her leash and haul her off for a cooling down.

The problem arises when other people without fenced yards, let their dogs have the run of the street, as in the case of the Mexican Rat Dog.

At first strike, Salome easily swatted it away. She didn’t counter attack because she wasn’t sure what it was. Smells like a dog, sounds like a dog, but sure as hell didn’t look like a dog. Rat Dog launched a second wave offensive and went for Salome’s ear. At this point, I was on the front the porch banging on the door for someone to retrieve their soon-to-be-lunch pet.

Salome politely swatted knocked the dog away a second time but the Rat Dog pulled a sneaky sucker-punch and lashed at Salome’s nose. This is where it was about to go terribly wrong.

Salome decided enough was enough and scooped up the Rat Dog in her mouth-by its head-and gave it a good long shake. The only defense the poor thing had was to play dead, which it did, and Salome let it roll out her mouth, covered in slimy slobber where the little thing promptly rolled over and submitted.

The owner finally came to door and when she saw what was occurring started a screaming tirade about calling the police on me and my “vicious animal”. I pointed out her that a) her Rat Dog started it, and b) why the hell is her dog out running around without a leash or even a collar with a dog tag in evidence of not having a fenced yard?

She saw my point, scooped her slimy rat-thing and hurried him into the house.

Salome stood there all the while, calmly, wagging her tail, not sure what just went down and probably wondering where the little play thing went off to. She never once made a sound, nor did the hair on her back bristle. I think it’s the curse of being a big dog. Probably like being an enormously large man, you get used to jackasses picking fights with you.

We went home where Salome went directly to her bed curled up and started snoring within minutes. I doubt she’ll even remember this by tomorrow although I am willing to bet that Rat Dog most certainly will.

Salome and I have been in a great battle of Physics for nearly 11 years now. She prefers the Laws of Thermodynamics while I am more of a Laws of Motion kind of girl myself. Salome generally operates on a First Law model that is a zero sum game. No one wins unless someone loses. Normally that would be me losing something to Salome through sheer amounts of slobber or dog hair. However, I counteract this with Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion: An object in motion will remain at constant velocity unless a net force acts upon it. Let me give you some context:

The pooch has clearly decided she’s not moving with us to the next house. She has spent the last week pulling items out of boxes I have just packed and when I place the items back in, she then tears the box apart. And she has consumed mass amounts of styrofoam popcorn. I have no idea what the hell that was about. She got into a bag two days ago and her doggie business has taken on an exceptional colorful quality for the last 48 hour as a result.

As an extra bonus, said styrofoam goodies has given her indigestion which means slobber is christening the ceiling, the walls and everything else that stands still. Between cleaning and packing, I don’t know if I will ever get the hell out of this house as this mad-dog scientist’s evil plan of recreating the beginnings of the universe via a whirling mass of entropy in my downstairs nearly prevents me from exiting the front door.

She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m on to her. Counter measures are under way. Hence, the net force of which I speak. Puppy dog thinks she’s being sly by employing the Second Law of Thermodynamics which states that systems will undergo conversion to a less organized form unless external force is applied. Since Puppy Dog has clearly forgotten the second part of this equation, I feel it my duty to reintroduce it to her. This translates into some sort of system of confinement for the Slobbermonster.

I could confine her to a room, but I remember only too well the Great Garage Escape of 1998 when she tore through a garage wall when she inadvertently locked herself inside, so that’s out. And there’s her crate, but she can get out of that quicker than Houdini no matter how many bungee cords or padlocks I slap on that baby. So I guess that leaves confinement of the mind, yes folks, drugs.  As soon as I finish this entry, the vet will be called and drugs will be procurred.

Hey, she’s stressed. I get it. Moving is tough. Change sucks. But dammit, it’s gotta get done. Puppy dog will be induced into a happy pharmaceutical state of bliss whether she likes it or not. They may not necessarily be helping her, but they sure as hell will be helping me.

I hope one day to call a truce to our war. A form of Zeroth where we exist in a state of thermal equilibrium, but I’m not holding my breath. 

So, tune in next week, as our evil geniuses continue their epic battle for control of the cosmos, once the kitchen has been properly unpacked, the cable has been turned on, and mail service and been re-established.