In Memory, 1996-2010

6th April, 2010: Posted by glpease in Editorial

He came to me 14 years ago, a young dog; a furry, frenetic, non-stop, spinning ball of perpetual motion. At the shelter, they’d called him Rocky. It didn’t fit. Taz fit. He drove me nuts. He drove Pasha and Kismet, my other two dogs at the time, nuts. Anything that looked even vaguely alive was something to spring upon, a trait particularly annoying to the gophers that poked their unknowing heads from the security of their holes, only to find a bounding wolf, all four paws high in the air, descending upon them. Taz never got more than a snout full of dirt, but he never tired of the sport.

For the first few days that he lived with me, I was almost convinced that his energy was more than I, or the other dogs could live with. But, his boundless enthusiasm and constantly wagging tail won me over. And, his snuggles. And his intelligence. He was one of the special ones, and I knew he’d settle in, or I’d just get used to him, or both. He wasn’t always easy to live with, but neither am I; we both had things to learn.

When we’d go out, he’d dash ahead, then stop, turn and look back at me as if to say, “What’s the matter with you? Why walk, when you can run?” He was pure joy. You could see the smile in his eyes. And, he was very bright. He was almost instantly house-trained, and learned what he needed to know quickly in order to get along with his new family. I rarely had to teach him something more than once.

Over the years, he slowed down. We all do. He went from puppy, to dog, to mature dog, to old age. During the past year, he’d lost his hearing, gone very gray, and was getting stiff. Towards the end of last week, the signs were clear; his clock was winding down. Friday, he stopped eating. He stopped drinking. He stopped wagging his tail. On Saturday morning, I took him for a last, slow, patient, stumbling walk. He sniffed the flowers, rubbed against the weeds, looked at the world around him with the curiosity he’d always had. A little after noon, he took his final breath. He was old. It was his time. That doesn’t make it any easier.

I will miss him more than I can express, and probably more than I know. This morning, I absentmindedly dropped a piece of food in his bowl, which I haven’t had the heart to remove from the kitchen, still expecting him to dash in and devour it. Every time I open a door, I expect to find him behind it. I can still smell him wherever I go, especially in my office. I still expect to trip over him in the dark. It’s been hard cooking without his being next to me, begging for a handout, and my having to tell him, “Would you get out of my way?” I can’t even think about smoking a cigar - every time I’d light one, he’d expect to be going for a walk, or sitting with me on the porch. It’s all different, now, and I know it will be strange for a long time.

Another will find me one day. That’s the way it’s always been. I don’t find dogs; they find me. But, I am going to miss him terribly.

We do our best to do the right thing for our four legged friends. It’s never easy when they leave us, and even though I’ve been through it too many times to think about, experience doesn’t really help with this one. Each one is as hard as the last. As I watched Taz getting stiffer and grayer, as his hearing went, as he stopped jumping into my lap, or dashing up and down the stairs, I knew he was getting old. He’d been with me from pup to dog to old man, and now he’s gone. Our jobs is to love them while they’re here, which is never long enough. Those who have been through it know what I am saying.

Rest well, beloved friend.