For the first time in 17 years, I do not have a dog following me around the house. Last night I went to bed and kept looking at the dog pillow on the floor, expecting to see a furry mass snoring happily, but none was there. I didn't have to bargain with the other half to see who would be in charge of letting the dogs out one last time before bed. At dinner, there was no one for me to shoo away from begging at my children's feet; and no one to snatch up the crumbs that still lay unswept on the floor this morning as I type.
Just 15 days after saying goodbye to Sydney, I realized it was also time to say goodbye to Hank. How these two animals that were born about three years apart were able to time their endings within two weeks of each other is the stuff I can only philosophize about. It was clear that Hank was sad without his longtime companion, but how was it that his cancer came to be known only two weeks before hers caused her demise?
Unlike Syd, Hank had gotten to the place where no food tasted good to him or could be tolerated. Sydney had gulped down her last supper of bacon and eggs, and greedily snatched a chocolate chip cookie bar from my purse (one that had grown stale after being uneaten by B) in the parking lot of the vet's office just before I took her inside. While Hank, who had only been eating bits of roasted chicken for days, wouldn't even attempt the popcorn I made him; the popcorn he'd have pulled out all the stops to steal from us only weeks earlier.
I took Hank for a walk behind our house--he chose to amble up the hill rather than taking the stairs, which seemed an odd choice--and after saying goodbye to the rest of the family, I took him to the coastal trail to lift his shaky leg on as many plants as he wanted to. It was the best he's ever walked on leash for me, and he almost tricked me into thinking I had made the wrong choice and that maybe he could stay with us for a bit longer. But the seizures I'd witnessed two nights earlier, and the bile I had been cleaning up constantly for two weeks allowed my heart to know that it really was the right time. Not too early, and not too late.
So now I am dogless. Though I know I have needed some relief of stress in my life, I am at heart a dog person. I need a dog's companionship and security. I am feeling a bit lost today, though I know that will ease with the days. The other half wants to take a break from dogs for a bit. I felt a bit angry that he reminded me of that as I cried last night. I am hopeful that the most amazing dog we could ever hope for will somehow find us. It's happened to me before when I was fostering, but those dogs were always meant to move onto someone else.
In the meantime, I will fondly remember the gifts and annoyances these wonderful spirits bestowed upon me and my family for so long. I will miss you, 'Stupid Hank.' I hope eating poop isn't frowned upon in heaven. Maybe it's even so great as to have poo-flavored dog biscuits for you? Now that would be the perfect Hank-heaven indeed!