My dog Ollie was rescued by a local dog walker while still a puppy. He had way too much energy but we adopted him anyway and he was a bit of a pill from the start. So before we had children Ollie and Lena were already on the scene along with Bhavani the cat.
“I’ve seen it in movies and I read it in books but I can’t believe that it actually happened to me.”
My daughter Ida was talking about me and her mother replacing her first dead goldfish with a new one without her knowing.
She also morbidly reminded me that by the time the goldfish experiment ended (six or so fish later) my wife had her flush the final one, admittedly on its last breaths, down the toilet, while still alive.
“So really, mommy made you kill your fish.”
Ollie is thirteen and then some and his hips are starting to go. He is one mineral short of being stone deaf and I’m not sure how well he sees out of his cloudy eyes.
Five years ago we had another dog Lena who succumbed to cancer at the tender age of eight. Ida remembers her funeral in a friend’s backyard, standing over a freshly dug grave, lit by our cars headlights.
Before Lena passed away Bhavani the cat had a stroke though we didn’t realize how serious it was when Ida and I went blithely to the vet to be told I had a decision to make about putting her down. Yesterday when we were talking about all of this Ida told me that was the only time she has seen me cry.
In the human realm Ida has seen two grandparents pass in her ten years, so in the grand scheme of things she has witnessed and experienced a sense of death and dying.
Her brother Reggie in other hand, less than three years younger, wasn’t old enough to truly experience any of these events in a meaningful way and has been spared—not for the better from my perspective—an essential glimpse into the nature of mortality.
Ollie was a pain in the ass of a dog when Lena was alive. He was mean to her and didn’t listen all that well. Not to be the coldest man alive but there was a definite sense that it would have been preferable if Ollie rather than Lena had gotten sick.
But amazingly, after Lena’s demise Ollie became the world’s greatest dog who I guess just wanted to live alone. In the past six years he has grown ridiculously dear to my heart.
And he is getting old. My dog ollie that two years ago flew up the stairs is now walking and sometimes even laboring at the top of the flight. Our hour long walks no longer seem as easy and the return pace has definitely slowed.
In the midst of life…