Hope, November 4th, 2006
February 15th, 2008.
It took me a long time to finally fall asleep last night. At first it was because of the adrenaline rush that came from our night out, and then Mike and I started talking about Hope - about how he was hoping to be able to say goodbye to her, because from the sound of things, if it turns out be a tumor instead of a fatty mass, then we're going to have her put to sleep. And I was there in bed, tossing and turning after we turned out the lights, and all I could think about was, "I'm not ready for her to go yet."
A dog is the only thing on this earth that loves you more than he loves himself. - Josh Billings
I must have flip-flopped around for a good forty-five minutes, thinking about nothing but our sweet dog with her big brown eyes. If I closed my eyes, all I could see was her - the two of us swimming in the pool, her with her paws up on the coffee table eating our dinner when our heads were turned, licking the dinner plates on the floor by the sink, waiting patiently for a piece of processed cheese, swimming with Mike and I in the pool, playing fetch in the backyard, tearing up a squeaky toy and yanking the stuffing out with her teeth, how excited she gets when you say the word "walk", the way she jumped up on me and planted her paws firmly on my chest the first time I came down here in November. And eventually, I got out of bed, grabbed a book, and headed towards the bathroom.
Hope in the pool, summer '07
Before I made it there, I noticed her in the sitting room. It's like she was waiting for me, like she knew exactly what I was thinking about. I dropped my book on the floor and lay there on my side parallel to her, rubbing her soft golden ears and looking into those big brown eyes. The whole time, we looked into each other's eyes.
"I love you," I murmured to her.
She licked my face a few times. I love you too.
"You're my sweet girl and I'm gonna miss you," I continued, "but I don't want you to be in pain and neither do the rest of us."
More licks. This time on my hand, a few more on my face. I'm continuing to rub her ears, her snout, that soft place on the top of her head. And these big dark eyes of hers are looking right through me. She knows. I can tell she does. Not only is she the most wonderful dog I've ever been lucky enough to be a human to, but she's empathic and she can tell how much I'm hurting.
Finding her in the sitting room last night was a stroke of luck. It's like she knew that I needed her to be there. Mostly she sleeps in the hallway, because the cool tile feels good against her belly. But last night she knew that I needed her, and she was right there waiting on me to show up.
I'm at peace with whatever happens. I'll miss her madly if we end up losing her now, but last night I was able to make my peace. She knows I love her. I know she loves me.
There's a reason that "dog" is "God" spelled backwards.
That reason is Hope.
Dogs don't know about beginnings, and they don't speculate on matters that occurred before their time. Dogs also don't know — or at least don't accept — the concept of death. With no concept of beginnings or endings dogs probably don't know that for people having a dog as a life companion provides a streak of light between two eternities of darkness. - Stanley Coren
With my friend daphyn, October 2007
We put our sweet girl to sleep that morning. My mother in law took her to the vet, told her to look for my husband's brother, and lick his face when she found him. She rubbed her ears, told her she loved her, and said goodbye to the most wonderful dog that any of us had ever had the good fortune of getting to know.
"They had to put her down," my husband choked out on the phone that afternoon. "The tumor was...it was too big. Go talk to Mom, I think she'd like the company."
Barefoot, I padded down the hall to the office and stuck my head through the door. "I heard," I said softly. "Are you okay?"
She came out of the office and sat on the threshold of the door that led into our room, where we sat and talked. We discussed the yellow Lab who had won each and every one of us over with her happy face and perpetually wagging tail, her smile, her joy for life. Even at eight years old, she was still a happy puppy, full of joie d'vivre. And even not having her in the house for the few hours that she'd been gone, her absence was surely showing.
"Gary," she said, referring to my father-in-law, "was looking on Craigslist, and there's some people across town who have two male chocolate lab puppies that we're going to take a look at later."
Partially, it seemed like it was too soon...we'd just put Hope to sleep and were already talking about getting not one new dog, but two? But it wasn't that we were replacing our dog, it's that, as my friend extraneousrooot said, it's that a house without pets in it was not a house that any of us were willing to live in.
And that afternoon we drove across town to Ruthrauff and met two of the most adorable chocolate lab puppies that I had ever seen. One was taller, a softer golden brown, and the other was smaller and closer to the ground, his fur a deep, dark brown, the color of good homemade fudge. As my mother-in-law and I sat down crosslegged on the floor, the tall puppy ran right to her and began to snuggle, whereas the smaller one barrelled towards me and and began to wriggle and bark in his little puppy voice.
Anyone who doesn't believe in love at first sight has never seen a puppy, or had that same puppy look into your face with his baby-blue eyes, still not changed to the green they'd become a few months down the line.
They've never had that puppy fall asleep on your lap on the way home, while inhaling his sweet baby smell.
They've never had a puppy jump out of the cart at PetSmart, even showing at six weeks old, a shadow of the fearless dog that he would soon become.
Dogs make you believe in love at first sight.
That night, we carried them into the house and watched them tear off in opposite directions, chasing and barking at each other. And we laughed as the smaller puppy took off down the hall to the office and returned with a scrap of red felt in his mouth.
It was the hat from Hope's squeaky Santa, a present we'd given her during her last Christmas with us.
And with everything I possess, I believe that Hope is "dog"mother to those two funny little guys, a guiding light who watches over them from the Rainbow Bridge.
She watches over them, and she watches over us.
And if that doesn't give me hope, then I don't know what else could.