Monday, 28 April 2014 20:13

The hardest thing in the world

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I love animals. Most of them love me too. Almost anywhere I go people's pets will seek me out at some point to spend some quality time. Dogs are my favorite furry friends, but it's often the shyest of cats that wind up curled up on my lap or chest for a brief chat and visit. We had a few dog's growing up, none of which I was especially close to.

Pets belonging to close friends and relatives became my canine and feline nieces and nephews to be spoiled and petted when Uncle Chris was around. I shared pets with a few exes over the years as well, but always seemed to lose custody in the divorce proceedings. That was rough. Tougher still was when these precious creatures came to the end of their face-licking lives here on Earth. I felt sorrow along with their owners at losing my friend. Now it's painfully close to the end for our thirteen year old named Saki.

Eight years ago a series of events led my then boyfriend, now partner, to move in with me for a while when his family was looking for a new house or apartment to rent. Part of the deal however was hosting their five year old Chow/Retriever mix, Saki Esther Patel, for a month or two. At the time I did not want a dog even though I loved them in principle. It was actually his sister's dog and now I was pushed into accepting the package deal. I was not in the mood for the mess, expense or extra work required including managing and removing an amazing amount of previously used dog hair. A month or two and eight years later, we are preparing ourselves for her passing and saying our goodbyes.

Last weekend out of nowhere she started vomiting all over the house and could not keep her food down. She also pooped on the floor next to her food bowl, which was as out of character as it was alarming. The poor old lady could barely get up, stand up, or walk very far without falling down. The three short steps down to and up from the yard were now all but impossible. We decided to wait out the weekend take her to that somber final vet visit on Monday. I took the morning off and puttered in the yard while she layed in the grass under the redbud tree. She needed to be carried outside and gently set in the grass by this point. It was agony looking at her lying there knowing that her fate was not very hopeful. I had grown to love this regal and magnificent animal. 

Small amounts of food along with drug-laden globs of cream cheese seemed to be staying down for the time being. As it drew closer to the time we had to leave, my partner had a change of heart. "It's murder. I just can't do it," he said. My heavy heart broke a little more and that was that. Her sentence was summarily commuted until further notice. We didn't, we couldn't, go through with it that day.

I wanted to be mad because in my mind I was ready for this to happen and we had a schedule to keep. I did not want her to unnnecessarily suffer either but I still felt horrible. I still do. Part of my family, part of my home, is about to die. Blankets and pillows are all over the floor. Soothing words and special hugs hang in the air. Carrying her in and out is awkward and most likely quite painful to her. Her eyes look weird and her head hangs to the side in an odd manner. Perhaps she had suffered a seizure or small stroke. I don't think she can see very well, if at all. I have some aging parents who are in much better shape than Saki, but a lingering sense of comparison, finality and mortality can't be avoided.

Saki bit me once a few summers ago in a disagreement about whether or not the dead rabbit in her mouth belonged in the house or not. I had had chemotherapy that day and was grumpy enough as it was, but this sent me into a tearful frenzy. It hurt really bad and I was scared that it would get infected and me sicker, but I never blamed the dog. I was the sucker that tried to remove a trophy kill from the jaws of an eighty-pound Chow. That makes me the silly rabbit.

Whenver her time comes, and it will soon, I will be profoundly sad. Sometimes the great circle of life has some jagged corners. Here's to you Miss Saki. You are one of the greatest dogs of all time.