This past weekend was one of the hardest of my life. We put our dog Oliver to sleep yesterday, my sweet boy. He was 17 years old. As much as I agonized over when, I know now it was the right time. He always hated being picked up, but on Sunday morning he didn’t mind at all, just trusted us as I lifted him and sat him on my lap in the car. Lots of pets and kisses. It was quick and painless, and I think he knew he was loved and cared for, right up to the end. I had tears running down my cheeks all morning, and we sobbed there in the room after. Pulled it together enough to head home, and then I cried again at home as soon as I saw his empty bed. I miss him, but I am at peace and I hope he is too. Peaceful and happy, and no longer a prisoner of his aging little body.
I didn’t realize quite how much medication had become Oliver’s new normal until I cleaned everything out this weekend. Our pantry feels remarkably uncluttered in comparison. The cat’s kibble is in the second food container, now that his reviled prescription kidney food is gone. Likewise the kitchen floor feels oddly empty, with only one pair of dog dishes and the extra rug out of the center of the room. We’re going to be getting used to being a family of eight paws instead of twelve over the coming days and weeks. It simultaneously feels like a sad emptiness and a weight lifted — not fussing over medication schedules and attempts at feeding him, not listening for any signs of distress or vomiting from him in the night. I miss him already. In the meantime, life winds on, and we hold our memories close. Almost fifteen and half years of love. Until we meet again, my bear, my dear sweet Oliver.
“As I stared at myself in the mirror, I thought about what it would be like to paint my own portrait. Say I were to try, what sort of self would I end up painting?”
–Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore
While I was blissfully meandering in a bookstore in Seattle, I stumbled upon Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs. I find her work to be meditative, insightful, and beautiful, and this slender volume about dogs did not disappoint.
Some of the poems seem to be simple, lyrical observations, but gradually you find yourself drawn into contemplations about life, love, and the simple joys and sorrows of being. I read the whole book in a single quiet afternoon, my dogs sleeping at my feet — and in hindsight, I cannot think of a more restorative way to spend a Saturday. Oliver’s keen eye and unabashed incorporation of nature into the fiber of her life make Dog Songs a unique entry in the canine companion poetry milieu. A quietly moving read.
“All the women in me are tired.”
For some reason it has been a tiring week. Not only did I have a lot on my plate, but it feels like family, work, relationships, politics, friends, and social obligations have all somehow been involved. I contain multitudes, and all of us are tired this week! I am looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, and to an afternoon nap with my pups. Wishing you a restorative weekend as well!
This Monday I am musing over how grateful I am for my two dogs. They love unconditionally, trustingly… it is so sweet and comforting to have their warm furry presence by my side.
It might sound a bit cliché, but I think if we could all learn more from dogs, the world would be a brighter place.
- Trust more.
- Love more.
- Nap more.
- Take joy in the little things.
- Live in the moment.
- Savor what you are given.
- Make your pack your priority.
- Take a walk every day.
- Be unabashed about showing your love.
Even just the amount of naps they take is #goals, but the rest of the list is full of things I want to remember every day. Puppy love, indeed.