Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Aftermath


I like organization and order. I like quiet. I like being alone sometimes. But I think it's time to admit that I also like . . . just a little bit of chaos. I love having dogs there to greet me when I get home. The barking, the jumping, the enthusiasm. It doesn't matter if I was gone for five minutes or five hours - I get the same greeting either way. "OHMYGOD YOU CAME BACK! WE MUST REJOICE!"

It's awfully strange not to have my Giddy greeting me at the door now. I almost said "Hi, Giddy-up" as I emerged from the garage yesterday, but then I remembered. I had but one greeter: my daughter's dog, Gretchen. For her part, Gretchen does not know what to do with herself. What do you call a boss with no underling? She bossed her brother around for years and now she has no one in her employ. She whined for several days, but she seems to be feeling a little better now. When we came home from the clinic after Giddy died, I fell into a crumpled heap in my bed, shades drawn. I was clutching Gideon's Muppets collar, and Gretchie was very curious about that, sniffing and snuffling it loudly.

She laid on the bed with me for a bit. Her version of cuddling usually involves circling me, licking my face, and then stepping on my boobs. I think my crying made her feel confused and anxious so eventually she hopped off my bed and opted for a dog bed (that did not have a hysterical lady in it) instead.  It's almost comical - we now have five dog beds and one dog.

Each day has gotten a little bit easier. I surprise myself sometimes by tearing up at moments that seem unrelated to Gideon or his passing. I've been fortunate to have a lot of support. Many of my friends have reached out, which has been comforting. Most of them understand fully how I feel, as they are dog lovers, too.

I know that some are curious to know what happened, but could probably guess based on how things had been going with Giddy. Gideon's health had been declining steadily for about 10 months. In recent weeks he had lost weight (he was always a thin dog anyway) and was eating less and less. Finally, last week, he stopped eating. I started noticing other odd behaviors, too. The degenerative myelopathy was bad, of course, but the final decision was made because he stopped eating altogether. Once he entered the fourth day with no food, I knew I could not let it go on any longer. On Friday morning, I held Giddy's face in my hands and begged him to let me know for sure that he was done. Done with his uncooperative body, done with the whole scene. I felt like he was telling me that he was ready to move on. (On the way back home, P and I made a verbal list of all of Gideon's medical issues and stopped counting once we were in double digits. My boy was, simply put, a mess.)

P and I took off work on Friday afternoon and escorted Gideon on his last trip to the vet. P carried Giddy to the car and into the clinic. We brought along a sling to help get him around once we got there. My vet was very compassionate. Dr. B is a keeper, for sure. The clinic has a nice euthanasia room off the beaten path (nice euthanasia room . . . how's that for an oxymoron?). The room has an exterior door that leads directly to the parking lot so that you don't have to walk back through the lobby after your dog has just died. Leaving Giddy's body in that room was so hard. I held him as he died, of course. I told him he was the goodest good boy in the whole wide world, just like I had always told him. I feel like his passing was fairly peaceful. Well, as peaceful as it can be when the lady who took care of you for over nine years is dripping mascara-laden tears in your fur. After having my heart ripped out by three cats and three dogs in my adult life (not to mention foster dogs I lost), I feel like I have cornered the market on The Ugly Cry.

When I got home from work today, greeted by ol' Fat Gretchen (bam-a-lam), I saw the envelope on the kitchen counter right away. I knew it was from the vet clinic and I knew what was inside. Knowing didn't help to temper my reaction, though, at seeing my boy's paw print. They sent a nose print too.

I think I still have a few ugly cries left in me, but I know the pain will become less sharp over time. I've been looking at old photos of my boy and reminiscing. I remember how he jumped so high into the air at mealtimes. I remember how he wouldn't leave visitors alone until he had successfully inserted his tongue into their mouths at least once. I remember how I took him to training classes (right after I adopted him) and how he didn't give a shit about complying with any of that stuff. I remember how his lip would get stuck on the only tooth he had left in his mouth. I remember how I loved him so.

Soon, I know I will get a call letting me know that his ashes are ready. And I will go and bring my boy home.


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