Sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to.
Sometimes things happen that remind you that there aren’t any absolutes. Sometimes your plans have to change and your hopes have to hope for something new. That’s just how it is. You have to change along with it because there’s nothing else you can do. Sometimes you’re going to take one in the gut. Sometimes it won’t seem fair.
Some things are hard to explain. Sometimes you get a call from the vet telling you that your dog has fucking cancer.
I’m still not quite sure what to do with all of it just yet. As I sit here, it’s just been a couple hours since I found out. I’m just going to keep typing because I don’t really want to reread what I just wrote.
I’ve been so excited to be able to spend more time with her now that the girls are in school. We had talked about maybe finding a house with some land and how great it would be for her to really be able to just run unbound, as opposed how it is in the fenced-in suburban square she has now. And Holly had been able to start walking with her in the mornings again, just the two of them.
Wish in one hand, and all that.
I’ve cried hard about this, but I understand where it is all supposed to fit into life. As much as dogs become our family, they are still dogs and we’re people. There’s a natural separation regardless of the real connections that can exist. As my wife and I sat in the waiting room at the vet’s tonight, the local news on the tv was showing a story about a rape on a college campus and another about two men who had died in a house fire and another about Syria. I couldn’t help but think about how those people or their families felt today. The world is full of tragedy and suffering. And I will admit that one of the first thoughts I had, even while listening to the vet say things like cancer and amputate and maybe nine months, was “thank god this isn’t about one of the girls.”
Still, it is about one of my girls. My first girl, in fact. And she’s only eight. Her name is Jasmine and she is a big, ol’ smiling Rottweiler. She’s a great dog. She’s mellow and sweet and takes care of her family. She loves sleeping in the tub. She would give anything to go for a walk with my wife or get scratched on the ass.
This isn’t supposed to happen yet.
But it has happened. My dog has cancer. Bone cancer and it’s going to be very difficult. For my wife and me who have had her since she was weeks old. For my daughters who haven’t known a day without her. And most significantly, for her.
She is going to suffer, which is the worst part to think about, and then she will be gone. And it’s going to have to be ok because that’s how life works. And it will be ok, because that’s how life works.
And we will do the best that we can with it. We will make her feel as comfortable and as loved as we can through this (we already have a family trip to the pet store planned to get her new beds and the girls want to get her new dolls to play with). We will take the opportunity to practice appreciating what we do have and the gift she has always been. And we will get to take the last eight years with us forever.
That is the joy that lurks somewhere under the surface of all loss.
I’ve been thinking a lot tonight of my dog when I was a kid, a wonderful mutt named Bear. We got him when I was four or five years old and he was without a doubt my best friend. I played by myself a lot as a kid, which is to say that Bear and I were always together. We grew up together. Then I went off to college and Bear got old and sick. After I left he didn’t eat much and he slept most of the time. Then one weekend I came home to visit and Bear got up, he even played with me in the yard a bit. I went out with some friends that night and came home late. When I got home Bear was on the front lawn, his breath was shallow and he was clearly not doing well. I sat down and he lifted his head up just enough to put it on my lap. I pet him and talked to him and just sat for a very long time.
Bear died that night. I still believe that he waited for me to come home before he went.
And more than twenty years later I still think of Bear and still talk about him often. He was – and is – a very special part of my life.
Jasmine doesn’t have much time left with us, but she too will always be a special part of our lives. We are so fortunate to have had a dog like her in our family. I think she knows that, but we will make sure she feels it while we are still blessed to call her our dog.
I still wish she didn’t have fucking cancer, though.
I’m gonna go pet my dog for a while.