And I hope someone will do the same for me.
This is probably the hardest thing I have done, and that includes taking my mother off of life support. Tomorrow at 3:00 an animal doctor and her assistant will come to our house and gently put our, my beloved friend of 15 years to sleep. It is the right thing to do, no doubt, he has a cancerous lesions on his arm and he is really old for a Golden Retriever.
I always knew this would be hard, in fact I dreamed of it many times. My parents are both dead, so I have some experience with family members departing, but this is different. This is a dog. A creature that cannot speak in a language we can easily understand yet that speaks clearly in a language we did not know we knew.
Saul has taught me many things, like patience and the acknowledgment that there are important things I cannot see or smell. That there is a connection to the natural world that is obvious to some, but very elusive to others (humans for instance). That you can tell most of what you need to know with a couple of good sniffs of another’s butt.
I don’t want to overplay this, after all I am talking about a dog, but at the same time there was a whole lot of unexpected learning that I experienced in the 15 years I have known this animal. He has been aloof yet loving, judging yet inclusive, independent yet dependent, beautiful yet…always beautiful. One of the great joys of my life has been taking Saul and Otis for walks and seeing the expressions of other humans as we approach..literally it is like taking beauty for a walk. And yet the beauty does not know it is.
There is a language that dogs, and probably other animals speak that is not spoken yet is terribly obvious when you are the victim. There is no doubt when he looks at you that you have been missed, or that it is time for a walk or ITS 3:00 P M AND WHERE IS LUNCH?
There is a certain purity to taking your dog to the park and letting them be a dog. Even it it means they come home wet and stinky. Inconvenience yes. But also priceless. It has something to do with the look in their eyes and the connection with reality (aka mud).
I am very much not religious, but I am spiritual and I remember reading somewhere that pets can help you connect with the other, the greater. whatever that may be. This Saul has shown me and I know now it to be true.
There is no tragedy here, just the circle of life. It is hard for those of us that continue but perhaps not so much for him that is old in dog years.
So the pain and remorse I feel are real. I did not cry so much when my parents died. They lived a good life and went on their own terms, mostly. But this is different. This is a being that has been dependent since the beginning, yet independent. Someone, something that has helped me deal with loss and disappointment for a decade and a half, yet at the same time he has had a good life, swimming in the ocean and the Rideau and the St Lawrence – they have webbed feet for a reason you know:)
In conclusion, I am grateful for the time I could share with Saul, I cannot express the appreciation for what i have learned and felt from him. Those of you that have pets, I am sure you can relate.
Even as he leaves this world I think he asks a question that we all struggle to answer.
What does it mean to be?
What do you think?
Saul RIP May 8, 2018
p.s. I have human friends of course, but as much as I love hem, they have not taught me as much as this creature from another species.