My , lovable, sweet, stubborn, sometimes-an-asshole Tish,
I’ve been here before, but here is a place I dread being.
I even do the same magical shit like hoping you’ll go peacefully in your sleep or somehow give us that look that lets us know you’re ready to go to the kind of sleep you don’t wake up from.
Put to sleep. God, I hate that term. I know it’s euthanasia but it has the same result as murder. Are we complying with your wish for assisted suicide? No, because that would mean you could let us know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you wanted to die and even though I’ve anthropomorphized you to death, so to speak, there’s no way that’s going to happen.
I know it’s not fun to be 118 in human years. I know you’re not happy about giving up your runs, leaping into the sky to catch a Frisbee, chasing away coyote, javalina, and deer with your terrifying HugeDog bark, playing Rollyball (a game you made up that involved you lying across from me, front paws spread,as I rolled a ball in between them which you catch and then bat back to me) bringing us RattleToy, SusanToy and the scores of toys you knew by name, being our Fart Detector and running into the bathroom Demand-O-Barking for us to pick up and spray the Lysol after someone farted, sitting and shaking hands even when we didn’t ask you to hoping you’d get a treat, body-slamming the end of our bed when you wanted to be fed, and endless other things that we loved about you and that drove us crazy.
From the start, taking care of you was like running a Doggie Day Care place–you’re just one of those breeds that demands a lot of attention–and your constant barking (also a hallmark of your breed–the dog site said “if you require a quiet dog, don’t get an Aussie”) drove us fucking crazy, but now that you don’t bark anymore, or run around getting into trouble like you used to, I miss those days when you were a pain in the ass.
You still walk twice day, but it takes 20 minutes just to get you down the driveway and to the corner and back, and you rarely sniff the ground or look around anymore. You stop and pant and I get frustrated and angry and yell at you to get going and I hate myself for it and tell myself to have compassion but sometimes I can’t so after we come in the house, I have a love sesh with you and give you a bunch of treats. Can you tell I feel guilty? I can tell you feel sad–not all the time, but sometimes–even though researchers say that dogs don’t feel as we do and all you know is what’s going on right now. I refuse to believe that.
Tish, I know we should be satisfied with almost 17 years of you, after all, Fe died at 10 and Arb at 12, but my Jew-ddism fails me when I mourn your decay and decline. Didn’t I study the Four Noble Truths–that life is suffering and clinging to anything or anyone only brings pain? Yes, but so what. I have suffered and clung and suffered and clung and will probably continue to do so. I’m not a Bodhisattva or a Jewish mystic and it hurts like hell to not only lose someone you love, but have to make the choice exactly when to lose them.
Will we wake up tomorrow and decide this is the day? I say “we” because I want to share responsibility for your death as I did for your life, but in reality, you’re daddy’s dog, as Arb was mommy’s dog and it’s daddy’s decision, not mine.
Someone once said (I’m too lazy to Google it now) “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” and as I see you trying to exhaustion to get up and slipping on the tile, or nervously standing in the middle of the house because you can’t see or hear so well, I know that love is having the courage to do shit that really tears you apart because you love someone.
I love you, Tish. I always well.