Our Dog

I’ve been debating whether to talk about this publicly. It feels like a very private kind of sorrow. I guess at the end of the day, I just want to remember my dog, and so maybe I want you to notice for a minute too that he was alive and he was good, and he deserved to live.

He never barked and he was always, always trustworthy alone in the house. There was no intent to be bad, not ever. Sometimes I think I would have appreciated him more if he had been more of a handful and demanded more of me. But he wasn’t demanding, and I needed that, and I loved him.

When we first got Glitch, he was a robot. He had never had a home really and we gave him that but it took years for him to really warm up and start showing emotion, start showing enthusiasm, start feeling brave, and eventually, start showing real and carefree affection. Only in the last year would I say that we saw his most exuberant, loving self. I am so very glad we got to see it. But it feels tragic to lose him at a time when we had grown so close and he had grown so real. What treasured moments would next year have held for us?

His death came just days before I was changing my schedule to be with him for more of each day. His death came as a result of efforts to help him live a healthier life with less pain. It came from trying to solve a problem that I felt so much guilt about not having the resources to solve sooner. Turns out, I should never have tried to solve it at all. I should have spent less time feeling guilt about my inaction and more time enjoying my living, breathing, happy, and generally healthy dog.

It feels like a serious fuck you from the universe. If I’m honest it also feels like a lesson I should already have learned.

Waiting until the time is right is not the right answer. Even if I think that time is right around the corner. Just next week, puppy, we’ll be able to go for a nice walk together every single morning. When I have more time, I’ll be able to start making you that homemade food from the market. When I have that new office, I’ll be able to bring you in to meet my friends.

What I should have done, what I could have done, is taken an extra, thoughtful moment each day. Instead of checking Facebook or watching a show or worrying about work or sleeping in, I could have taken an extra 15 minutes and chased him around the house, taken him for a romp in the woods, pet him on his soft little head. I could have given him a series of special reminders that he was so very important to me.

I know with time I’ll remember that we cared for him deeply and well. I know he felt loved. I know we gave him a lot of attention but it turns out it was just not enough. I should have been focusing on the things I could do in this moment and not resting my gaze on the big things I would have to save up time or money to fix. At the end of the day, nothing really needed fixing.

I guess now I’m thinking of what else I have in my life that could be harshly taken away. That will, almost certainly, someday be taken away. What do I want to give that extra moment to, and what is eating it now?

I don’t know if this lesson will stick. I get so busy and lost in thought and worry. I’m just here trying to soak it in because this is not my first loss and I should know better by now.

Glitch was my dog, and I love him. I love the fur that clings to his old coat, smelling of warm dust. He deserved more of me, of us. He deserved not to fall down the priority list as our careers ramped up. He was a real and true companion and the fact that he wasn’t human makes absolutely no difference to this feeling of loss.

I was supposed to protect him, and in the end I failed to do that, even though I knew, right down in my guts, that this was about to happen. I don’t get the opportunity to beg his forgiveness. I do get the opportunity to care more about the people and creatures that are not yet reduced to shadows in my living room.