A year ago today, Stormy was promoted to Senior Dog in our house. I’m still the big dog, but she’s the remaining canine member of the pack in the wake of Edzell’s death.
Dogs, and cats, hold a unique place in our hearts. For the most part, they are the pets humans share their lives indoors with on an extended basis. Some folks have fish, rabbits, turtles, birds, etc., but most of us have dogs and cats. They are such a huge part of our lives that we can’t imagine what it is going to be like when they die.
When Edzell died it hurt, but not the wracking pain I’d felt with other dogs. He was old, he’d had a great life, and he got to enjoy a beautiful summer before he took that final trip to the vet. I held my old friend in my arms and knew it was the right time. He knew it as well.
I spend a moment now and then thinking about him, more moments thinking about Stormy and whether or not she needs a companion in this life. Most dogs need another dog around. Not her. She seems to be thriving as a solo act. I’ll leave it there for now, if she seems to need a friend we’ll get another rescue dog for her to hang out with and share her days.
A decade ago I wrote an email to family and friends when our Old English Sheepdog, Nigel, had to be put down. The sentiments are similar to what I’ve seen countless friends share over the years when they’ve lost a pet. I’d like to share it with you today. Sometimes knowing that others feel the same about their pets makes the journey a little easier at the end of it all. Nobody dying around our house today, but I’m sure at least one friend is facing that final trip to the vet with their pet as I write this note. The memory of my friend Nigel is below the fold. Thanks for dropping by today.
October 8, 2001
It is a sad day in our house, because shortly after noon today, Nigel was put to sleep. He couldn’t climb stairs or move about too well, and he’d lost his ability to control himself. He was too hot in summer and too cold in winter. But he was my best buddy ever.
Nigel had shared over half of our married life with us, and we knew him from the time he was a lump in his mother’s belly until his final moments as an old dog.
During his time on this planet, Nigel was our friend, protector, and resident cartoon character. He was there when we went to bed and upon our arrival in the morning, holding the fort in the hours in-between the dusk and dawn. Often that time was spent comforting Kip in the darkest hours of her night. Racked with insomnia, Nigel was her beacon toward the day’s light.
Nigel made us better people. We quit smoking because it made him sneeze. He encouraged us to remember that a warm heart is much more important than an extra workout. This past week, before I knew he was leaving us, he asked me to forego my workout and stay home and play, catching the bus instead of walking. I’m terribly glad that I did. He didn’t fetch much, but stood there supervising while Edzell, (our Sheltie) carried on the day to day work of being the dog in the house.
Nigel was our Guardian Angel. I know that probably sounds silly to some of you, perhaps an opportunity to think we replaced kids with our dogs. Maybe. All I know is that he saved my life one night when I started falling backwards down the stairs while on crutches. Nigel pushed me upright. He’d never before been the second one up the stairs. That night he followed me and saved my neck.
He went from a bossy puppy to a bossy old fellow with lots of smiles in between. He looked silly at the end in his flowered diaper, DEPENDS snugged around his strong chest with masking tape. Maybe we were nuts to go so far to keep him around. All I know is that if I live to be 250 years old, I will never have another friend like Nigel.
And so this very sad day winds to a close. Kip is quietly crying next to me, my eyes are wet and Edzell is sleeping under the edge of the table. He’s not all the way under it, that’s where Nigel sleeps. Forever.