Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Dog Days Are Over

Sorry for neglecting you, little blog.

My dog died about a week and a half ago. She was old and sick, arthritis, kidney and liver problems. She was improving on meds, but on her last Friday night she was acting really weird. She wouldn't eat or drink, and for over a year she'd been drinking and pissing constantly. At about quarter to two Saturday morning she was breathing hard, so I called the 24-hour vet one town up. I was going to bring her in, either to fix her up, or put her out of her misery. By the time I hung up the phone, she was dying.

When I was a kid, I'd be upset for a couple of hours when I lost a dog and then pretty much forget about it. I never missed a dog after that. This one was different. I never had a dog last so long; I never had an old dog before. My dogs would get hit by cars, or run away, or I'd have to give them away for one reason or another.

Because she was sick and I live alone most of the time, I had rearranged my life around her. The day she died, I kept doing things as if she was there. When I went out, I closed my bedroom door before realizing I didn't need to. No one was going to go in there and tear up my room when I was gone. I didn't need to brace myself for her when I came home. I didn't need to get back home at a certain time to take care of her. No bowls to fill, no piss to clean up, no pills to hide in food. I could leave the front door open if I wanted. I wasn't woken up three to five times a night to let her drink and pee. I didn't have to set aside a portion of my food for her, didn't have to do lots of little things that had become second nature to me. In the space of a few horrible minutes my whole life had changed.

I had been telling people for a while that my life would improve when the dog died. That's not to say I didn't love the dog. That was just fact. When she was around, it was unusual for me to sleep for more than two hours straight. I couldn't concentrate on a project for more than an hour or so because she would need something. So, I'm suddenly liberated, but the length and the depth of the sadness that I feel astonishes me.


Christie said...

Oh Matt, I'm so sorry. :(

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

Thanks, Christie.

Paul said...

Sorry to hear that, Matt.

I know where you're coming from - my own dog is 10 years old now and suffering from a number of medical problems. She's doing okay on the whole, but sooner or later she'll be gone and then there will be an irreplacable hole in my life.

Elke said...

Sad news indeed. I hope it comforts you to remember what good care you took of her, and how much longer she was cared for & loved for having been with you. And were there good puppy times to remember too?

It is a big change to the household, not just your daily affections. I lived alone a number of years with a cat--one cat, not 18 or anything--well, for a while there were 2 but she was a stray, she needed a home... Anyway, the household consisted of the two of us and a hibiscus tree. It's not the same relationship as a man & his dog like you and Paul, but I relate to the mix of feelings in realizing you don't need to make sure the door is closed anymore. Take your time.

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

Thanks, you guys.

Paul, I hope you guys still have many years together.

Good points, Elke. She was officially my son's dog, though I took care of her. When I told him, I reminded him that she would have only had a couple of weeks of life if he hadn't chosen her from the pound. He gave her thirteen more years.

Elke said...

Oh, one of these days you're going to make me cry, aren't you? Yes you are!