"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.” – Milan Kundera, as quoted in The Canine Hiker’s Bible. (thanks to my friend, Marie, for this quote)
Three weeks ago today, I woke up to a fairly normal routine: let Dinah Dog out to pee and poop; fix her breakfast; take my morning before-breakfast pill; turn the propane on to heat water for a cup of tea; check my email and Facebook.
By the evening, though, it was clear that something had changed with Dinah – she only ate half her dinner. (Dinah was always very food-focused during the 14+ years we spent together; I thought that maybe she didn’t get enough food to eat during the two or two-and-a-half years she lived somewhere else before becoming a part of my family.) Then on Monday morning, she refused breakfast completely. Not a very good sign.
Over the next nine days, we made five visits to the vet’s office to see if she was just sick, in which case I wanted to give her every chance to heal, or to see if she was finally ready to move on, her dog-job complete, in which case I knew I’d be saying a final farewell. Of course, I was hoping, praying, wishing for the former. It wasn’t to be.
Tuesday evening, just nine days after that seemingly normal Sunday morning, I laid on the floor next to Dinah, snuggled my body right up next to hers, wrapped my arm over her body, buried my nose in her fur, and said good-bye as the vet gave her the shot in her hind leg; my friend, Tricia, was there, too, petting her head.
And then I breathed with her as she took her last breath.
I loved looking into her big, brown eyes and I often wondered at the person inside that soft, rabbit-fur-like head. I knew she had a job to do here on Planet Earth, and I knew her job would end before I wanted it to. If her job included being an intrepid traveling companion, a happy-go-lucky pooch, a gorgeous Queen of the Goldens, a reindeer in disguise, a friend to everyone, human or not, a furry, fluffy, blond, four-legged, most awesome dog, then she accomplished her goal. At 16+ years old, she was well over 100 in people years – and I often told her that I wanted to be in as good a shape as she was when I was 100.
She never minded dressing up in hats and always grinned from ear to ear when wearing a beautiful scarf. My little babushka! Not so much the reindeer antlers, though – she just tolerated those. But she seemed to really enjoy being Batdog, don't you think?
Way back when Dinah joined my family, my little Pancho the Corgi was in mourning for Auburn the Golden who was his best buddy and who had recently died. He quickly turned that mourning into rejoicing, though, when he saw that beautiful golden-furry face, and he and Dinah soon became inseparable – they were even similarly colored and marked… I called them Pete and Repeat. Goofy dogs together, they were. Mutt and Jeff.
Dinah always seemed to have a cat best friend, too. At first, it was Max the Cat, and then it became Louise Kitty. After Louise caught the Venus Transit last year and left our family, other cats adopted her – Copper Kitty and Gracie Cat both loved her to pieces.
My son’s dog, Isabella Pug, was another of her best friends – from the very first moment Isabella met Dinah, she fell in love with her fluffy fur; Isabella would tease a little tiny bit of fluff out of Dinah’s rear leg feathers to carry around in her mouth and to play with. What a silly pair they were together.
As difficult as the past twelve days have been for me, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the specialness that is Dinah is here to stay forever. Everywhere she went, she touched people’s hearts with her adventurous, silly, goofy self – people who knew her and people who never even met her. So many stories about Dinah have been told this past week and a half and it’s been an unexpected pleasure to hear how much people enjoyed reading about her and seeing her pictures, following her adventures as she tagged along with me. All of your phone calls, flowers, emails, cards, messages, and prayers have meant a great deal to me.
What a graceful spirit that Dinah Dog brought to the world and what a peaceful presence she leaves behind. She’ll always be here with me and I will honor her wishes for me to be happy by moving on, and, well, by being happy: happy that I found her waiting for me all those years ago, happy that we were able to spend so much time together, happy for her companionship, happy for her happy face, happy for her indomitable spirit. She taught me grace with her graceful style, perseverance with her persistence, gratefulness with her gratitude for her new life, and more about how to have fun with her fun-loving silliness.
I will miss her fluffy, furry earth-body for as long as I live and I’m blessed beyond words to have shared space and time with her.
I love you, big girl! I know you’re rocking that Rainbow Bridge…
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Thank you to my family and friends, my readers, my FB friends and family, for allowing me to honor Dinah Dog. Those of you who know what it's like to include a furry four-legged friend as part of your family know what it's like to let them go, to move on when they leave us, to fill the empty space with something, anything, and to honor their time with us. Dinah was a huge part of my life, especially this past few years when it was just the two of us because we did everything together; getting up each morning without her at my feet, and looking at the clock about 5 PM every evening knowing she isn't there to feed dinner to, has been the hardest thing in this new part of my life. The transition to a life without her has been made so much easier because of each one of you who have been here with me. A special thank you to Mark and Nick who opened their home to me, Tricia and Seth who were there when I needed you, and to the many who called or sent cards and messages – I love you all more than I can say. I pray I am there for you just as you all have been here for me.