This blog is inspired by the dogs with whom I share my life, my home, and my heart. I endeavor to capture and communicate in words and pictures some of what I learn from living with them. Shiva and Guile have captivated me and they have been my earthly muses on this journey, and this blog has been a tribute to their hearts and souls, and to all the humans who love and live with dogs and treat them with respect and dignity. Dogs are dogs, humans are humans, and we are all animals. When we reach hand and paw across that divide, we know that it is not so great a gap that hearts cannot be touched and lives changed despite a difference of species.
Some of you already know the story I am about to tell. Some of you, with your hearts aching and tears on your faces, reached for your own nonhuman companions and held onto them tightly when you heard. I love you for that. I love you for treating all animals with respect, and for sharing your homes with the lost and the refugees. I love you for caring, and for living your lives as if you give a damn. I am honored to count you among my friends, and I am touched by your love and kindness.
Guile is gone. Suddenly, and horribly, gone. I am reeling from the harshness of his death, and hating how it looms in my memory, leaving no room for all the joy that he gave to me. My world has slowed to a crawl, and the outside world whizzes past while I sit, grieving, hard and deep. I pray, I wish, I long for this moment to pass, and then the next, and for the aching hole in my heart to hurt just a little less.
I hate writing this. I hate putting Guile in words, in the past tense. Guile is past. Guile is gone. Guile is dead.
Guile was poisoned somehow, without ever leaving our home and yard, probably by a warfarin-type toxin that made his blood stop clotting. There was some mysterious bruising on the inside of his ear flaps that I noticed on Thursday, and on Friday afternoon he went outside and did not come back in when I called. I went out to find him lying on the ground, wagging his tail as if to say, “I would come, but I can't.” Atom carried him in to the house and I called the vet, who thought maybe Guile had fallen and sprained something. The bruising? Maybe he was scratching and hurt himself. Come in and we'll give you some rimadyl to make him feel better, see how he's doing tomorrow.
We took Guile to the vet. The vet was gone for the day, the tech was able to coax Guile to walk a few steps. We went home with the drugs. We carried him inside. He ate dinner. He crawled, but could not stand or even sit up. Within a half an hour, he began coughing and retching and there were flecks of blood on his lips. We carried him back out the the truck and rushed to the emergency animal clinic. Carried in on a stretcher, Guile wagged his tail and kissed everyone. As they carried him into to back, I heard the tech say, “He's still wagging his tail, how sweet!” Maybe an hour passed, a small eternity of rushed blood work and transfusions. More bruising on his legs where they shaved him. The vet explained to us as best he could why he suspected warfarin and what he could do and that it did not look good. Somewhere in there Guile had a small seizure. When the big seizure came, the doctor said, “Do you want to come back?” and so the next time that we saw Guile he was mid-seizure and the vet was asking us if they should keep trying or let him go.
Keep trying. Let him go. I think we said both, though I could be wrong about that. I know that we both said “don't let him hurt anymore.” I wanted to say anything, I would have said anything, that would make this not be happening, make him better, bring him home. But we had only one choice, that awful choice that is full of anguish and heartbreak, and there is no going back.
“Let him go,” I said, and we held on to him, and I whispered in his ear while he died, “You are such a good boy, Guile. I love you so much.” Over and over, each word filling me with rich, sharp sorrow as my world changed irrevocably from one with Guile in it to the one without him.
I grieve for Guile, whose life was too short, even as I know that all of our lives are too short and each of us leaves too soon. I grieve for Atom, who lost the best dog he has ever known, whom he called “the dog I always wanted,” the dog who was devoted to him so completely and loved nothing more than to be by his side.
I grieve for Shiva, who has lost his brother, his constant companion, his playmate and partner in mischief.
I grieve for the hole in my own heart, Guile-shaped and huge.
I whispered in Guile's ear as he died, and I said the things that I wanted to be the last things he would hear. I wanted him to go knowing that he was loved. I wish that I had thought to say thank you.
Thank you, Guile, for all the joy, all the love, all the warmth and enthusiasm that you brought to living with us. Your enormous heart, your sweet and trusting nature, your endless enthusiasm and affection added so much to our world, and we miss you.
Rest easy, big dog.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.