Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Do We Say Goodbye?

How do you say goodbye to a dear old friend?  How do you cope with the fact you'll never see this old friend again in life?  He won't be there when you feel like cuddling. He won't be there to take a walk with you. He won't be there to yell at or to laugh at.  He won't be there to hear your secrets and never tell. He won't be there breathing in your ear, licking your hand or drooling on your lap. 

By now, you may have figured out that I'm referring to a pet.

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”
Johnny Depp 

A close friend has had her dog for almost 18 years, now. The time has come where he is no longer the puppy that chased squirrels, ran away from home to McDonald's, and sneaked over to play (and we believe smoke cigars and play Poker) with his puppy-pal, Mercutio, across the street while she yelled and yelled for him.

I know the story of how he came to be hers and now am doing what I can in her pain in ending his suffering. I know how deeply he will be missed. No matter how loved she is, nothing can replace that dog.

“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”
Doris Day  

I've spent time with this dog and can only say that as a non-dog-owner....I like him. He was reasonably well-behaved. OK. He did keep pushing his head up under my breast once for some weird reason. While my friend was in the hospital, we split some Mexican food and bonded. He pissed me off by running out of the backyard when I let him out to 'go'. I had a mega-fit thinking, "Oh, no! Leave it to me! I've lost her dog! That's just great!"

The little monster turned up at the front door, looking like, "What? What's the problem?".

“I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.”
John Steinbeck

He's been her companion for years, her protector, her little boy, her secret-keeper, her source of irritation and joy, and her buddy. 

“You can say any fool thing to a dog and the dog will just give you this look that says, 'My GOSH, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would've thought of that!”
Dave Barry 

I can't begin to imagine what it's like to have to lose such a closeness like pet-owners have with their pets.  I attempted, once as a child and once as an adult, to have a puppy.  One mistake on the carpet and they received new and better trained homes than I could provide.

Dogs and children. They say you should never act with them as they will always upstage you. They both seem to gravitate toward me for some reason. They always like me and I like them.

“It’s the person who likes to pat dogs to whom dogs come for pats.”
Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder

I should be a dog-owner. I want to be. Big 'but' here...I have trouble keeping plants alive. I'm afraid to have to be responsible for a little loving loyal creature so dependent on me and my routine, of which I have none. So, I have a toy stuffed pug called, Bingo, on my nightstand. Life is safer that way.

“Discipline isn't about showing a dog who's boss; it's about taking
responsibility for a living creature you have brought into your world.”
Cesar Millan, Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog . . . and Your Life 

I come up with great names for dogs and cats. I bugged my husband about getting one. I played on his heartstrings that I need something to 'tend' to while he works part-time. It didn't work.  He knows me way too well. It's not only the plant-thing that puts an end to the conversation.  He knows that I would have the most difficult time, as he has with previous pets, saying "goodbye".  I am sensitive enough to not push the issue, not knowing how that feels and what he's gone through. I respect him enough to let him live with the memory of his beloved dogs, horses, and once, even a monkey.  (His mom loved animals!)

“And it is exceedingly short, his galloping life. Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old—or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give.”
Mary Oliver, Dog Songs 

So, with great sorrow, but still not close to what my dear friend is feeling, I say goodbye to Chester. He was a great friend to my friend. He kept her company. He was there for her...always.

 “Heaven's the place where all the dogs you've ever loved come to greet you.”
Unknown Author 516
Love you, Chester, for all you meant to and all you did for your owner! We'll all miss you!

Big hug to you, Pal!

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