Mondays are always challenging to get through, but this one has been a bear. My friend Patty called early to say that it was time to take her faithful companion of 13 years to the vet. This is the phone call that I have been anticipating and dreading for the last few months.
I only knew Carter in the last year of his life. He was a noble creature - powerful and graceful, fiercely protective and sweetly affectionate. His was a steady and stealthy presence - he kept his mistress in clear sight at all times - he instinctively knew what his job was - to protect. And he did his job exceedingly well all the days of his life. Patty felt tucked in and safe with her beloved Carter by her side.
I don't know what to say to Patty today, what I might do that could lessen her pain. I know the deep sadness and grieving that she is experiencing - as does anyone who has loved and lost a companion. We know that what our hearts have owned can never be taken or separated from us. We know that grief has its seasons and that we must be patient with ourselves, gently allowing ourselves time and space to sort out and store the memories that live inside of us. When we love our animals, share our lives with them, we silently agree to the contract that says we will most likely outlive our precious bond and that we will have to find ways to go on without them. We know, and agree to all of these conditions, but we are never really ready to say goodbye.
Dear Carter, I have to believe that you are already in Dog Heaven where your legs are strong and vital and you can run, once again, like the wind. There is no pain, no suffering, no limit on treats. Your master is waiting - I'm sure he whistled for you when you arrived - hoisted his rifle and followed you out into the endless golden fields. This is your reward for teaching us about unconditional love, for being the best friend of all. You loved - you were loved. Goodbye Good Boy.