Monday, August 14, 2006

Ode to Emily Jean

I must confess I don’t take loss well and when my dog Emily, a twelve year old Labrador, had to be put to sleep on Memorial Day, 2006 I was just devastated. Emily, gray fur, bad breath and all was the last remnant of my old life before moving to the Boston area. Basically she was a smoochy, living, breathing piece of what I call home, even after six years of living here.

Truth be told I really didn’t even do much with Emily, she was old and I was wrapped up in getting my dissertation done. The world just kept going and Emily and I fell into a complacent groove. No I don’t by any stretch of the mind mean to say I didn’t love Emily, I very much did, but what I did do was take her for granted.

I never knew until she was gone how much I loved coming home to a happy dog, it made the house seem less empty and my life seem less pointless. I didn’t realize that I would miss all the little things, small things, silly things when you say it out loud – like her tags jingling. That jingle was part of the everyday of my life and suddenly with Emily’s passing there was silence.

I also very much missed the routine and responsibility of a dog. The daily up, out to the yard, have some breakfast, pat the dog kind of thing I did without thought each day. I also used Emily now and again to get me out of things, “oh I have to go home and feed/walk/take care of the dog”. I missed the responsibility of caring for another living being that in return gave me nothing but unconditional love and reverence.

This past Friday I finally found a suitable “box” for Emily’s ashes. Emily and I will forever have a deeper bond than any other dog because she was my first. Not my first dog, not by a long shot, but she was the first dog I ever had to put to sleep. All my dogs in the past had died in their sleep or my mom had handled “final arrangements” for. I was there cupping Emily’s beautiful head in my hands as she silently looked at me, closed her eyes and drifted off to her final sleep.

I was so disconsolate about her loss.

They only way I knew to handle it was to start looking for another dog, not a replacement but another dog who needed a good home and a loving mistress to spoil them. At times I wish I had gotten a puppy, nothing is more fun than a Lab fur ball, but then again nothing is more work than an 8-12 week old puppy, and right now I just couldn’t manage that. So I did the right thing and adopted and have since fell hopelessly in love with Dory. It was a rough road to find her – but that is a story for another day.

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