My dog died today, on the other side of the world.
My post ís correcting itself based on the Vietnamese alphabet, which underscores the whole distance thing. It's a little frustrating. It in fact may show up with Vietnamese accents, because I'm seeing several of those so far that it's hard to do anything about.
He died at home, with my parents. My mom wrote me, because I don't have a phone here, and I just learned it tonight, after getting in from a place called Saloon 17, where someone requested Juice Newton's "Lay Back in the Arms of Someone", and the (very young) band nailed it.
That's one of those colorful details, you know.
It sounds dumb to say that my heart is broken in a new place, but it is. I know he made it to 13, and he had so many wonderful years with all of us. But whenever anyone dies - person or animal, holy shit, even a dream if you want to get technical - that's been important to our lives, it really dóesn't so much matter how old they were. I don't want to die. Do you? And I wanted him to live forever, plain and simple. I can't imagine my life anymore without him. It's going to be really hard. He was the best.
Mom said he had several stroke-like episodes, and finally just went to sleep. She said she and my father were actually quite relieved for him, because he was struggling so bad at that point (And that, Mr. Euthanasia below, is when it all starts to make sense.)
I'm glad that they didn't have to choose that for him, especially with me gone, and that they were with him, because they took such amazing care òf him over the past several years since I've been back in Maryland. They helped me care for him and do things that I couldn't have afforded. They opened up the house to the three of us - me and Punkin and Sunshine. She lived there until she died in 2001, and when I moved out to a place that couldn't take animals easily (so many steps, and he was used to his yard by then) he stayed with thẹm. I often joked that I was jealous that he loved them more than he loved me anymore, but it didn't matter. They were champs about it all and I really think he brought them as much ỏr even more than he brought to me.
I'm glad that, as she wrote me, they could set him on his pink poodle blanket (with his ears up, Mom said) and sit with him until the place opened up in the morning where he'll become something entirely different altogether.
And speaking of what he brought me, it was so many things, but in breaking it down tonight, I think it's a sense of home and belonging, plus a healthy dose of responsibility. I had to get home for him, and I had to make sure he was fed and healthy. He sat with me when I watched tv, when I wrote, when I yapped on the phone, and especially when I ate. He had a cookie every time I left the house and was waiting for me so many times when I came home, looking out my parents' screen door. I often picked him up and carried him around, because it was comforting for both of us.
When I got him I lived in Ohio. I was dating an alcoholic who nonetheless was very sweet and loved dogs. He went with me to pick him out and pick him up. Punkin was so small when I brought him home that he could stand in his plate - a dinner plate, which was all I had to feed him on the first day. I also had no couch, but I had a dog. I paid about $300 of my student loan money for him. It was without question the best money ever spent.
I had neither the time nor the money that it took to "train" him, so we made do. He never slept in the several beds I tried to get him to use over the years. It was either with me or my parents. He hated the outdoors, for the most part. He liked eating and he liked to play. He did both with great and powerful energy until two days ago. There would be no languishing here. Come to think of it, there wasn't for either of my dogs. This is something that I am grateful for.
I bonded with this dog to a ridiculous degree. Bostons don't like other dogs as much as they do their people. They want to be with you, and that was him times 1,001. He wanted to know what was going on at all times, and most of the time he wanted to be involved in it. We are similar in that regard.
I really wish I had my own room here. I can't stop crying and I'm in kind of a dicey roommate situation, so I asked but they don't have any more space. What I need is my own space to feel how I feel. Sad. I just feel somewhere past sad. Some of the girls opened up their room to me and spent some time with me and gave me hugs, which was very nice of them because I know it's no fun to deal with someone else's pain on the fly. It's a hard pain to explain to people who haven't had pets, and none of them had, but they were sweet nonetheless.
I will miss him for my lifetime.
My mother's e-mail told me to do the work I came here to do, and to focus, and I really believe that I can do that. It's mostly because I don't have a choice but also because it makes sense and it's the right thing. I just wanted to write about it here now both to get it out and mostly to thank everyone who's read along with me about him over the past few years. Some people have been inexpressibly sweet and very helpful in response, and I really appreciate it. As I told him every day about himself, you all are super nice. And if I could kiss you on the head long-distance, as went the rest of that routine, I surely would.