August 10, 2004

$209.28 -- warning: sad

That's all it costs, I found out today. That's what they charge you to take your friend away. I said that I was going to get my mother from the hospital but there was another problem today as well. And in fact, I will not be able to take my mother home from the hospital until tomorrow. But that's ok, I had other things to do today. See, when I left the office today, I was also going to deal with a medical emergency at my parents' house -- the dog was sick, too.

Well, the dog was more than sick. By the time I got there, she was dead. I find myself curiously reluctant to use the word dead. When I called the vet I told him that the dog had expired and later, when I called someone else, I used the expression, given up the ghost. I kept hesitating over the word, dead, like a mental stutter. But that's what she is all right. There was no question when I walked in that she was gone, that she had departed her body. She was lying on the floor and so terribly and utterly and unchangeably still.

I called the animal hospital and they gave me the name of the pet cemetery to call them to arrange a pick up. I was not going to try to take this dog to my car and drive her there all by myself, she weighed over 80 pounds in life and frankly I was just too sad to do it.

They came to take her and dispose of her for $209.28, including tax. I keep coming back to that number. I guess it provides a prism through which I can focus on the act of dying itself, on the sudden lack of the dog in our lives. I don't think it will make a good point to tell the girl child, but she has to be told something and I am leaning towards honesty here, to tell her that her friend is dead, too. She loved this dog and could say her name before she could say my father's name. Any suggestions about what to tell her?

I loved this dog. My parents got her from a rescue group. She had been abused but she found love in their house. And she died with someone who loved her sitting next to her and stroking her. Really, that doesn't sound too bad, does it? I think that this is what we all might want at the end if we are given the choice. This woman who was with her told me that the dog knew that she was dying and she kept looking out at the driveway because she was waiting for my parents to come home to be with her. But then she couldn't wait any longer and she sighed and went still.

$209.28 seems like not very much money to measure the worth to you of your friend when they're gone.

When the man arrived from the service, he put the dog into two plastic bags. Rigor had set in very quickly. I had to leave the room when it came time to put her head in the bag. I am finding it hard to write about it now, in fact. She was too heavy for one person to take. I helped carry her out to the truck and I lifted her very gently and the nice man was gentle, too. And then she was gone. A sweet and gentle animal, most of the time.

$209.28 is not much when your heart breaks a little as the plastic bag is closed and the door to the truck thunks shut and your friend is gone. It's amazing what a credit card will buy.

I'm going to go play with my children now. Writing about this did not, in fact, make me feel any better, as I had hoped it would. Instead, I feel the pressure of unshed tears.

Posted by Random Penseur at August 10, 2004 06:11 PM

R.P. I am so sorry for the loss of the family friend. Cherish the memories, time heals all wounds even this one. I believe honesty is the best policy when delivering the news to the girl child. Somehow I think she may be there to comfort you as much as you her.

Posted by: Wicked H at August 10, 2004 06:29 PM

This woman who was with her told me that the dog knew that she was dying and she kept looking out at the driveway because she was waiting for my parents to come home to be with her.

Hi RP,
I have no doubt that this was exactly what the dog was looking for. Dogs are special. In many respects they mirror of what we give them so the very fact that she wanted to spend her last minutes with her 'parents' is simply a mirror of what she got from them.

"And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make." Sounds like a lot of equality there to me.
Sorry. Ivan

Posted by: stolypin at August 10, 2004 06:46 PM

I am so sorry. The loss of a dog is a truly terrible thing. When mine died, I couldn't sleep. I woke up every 30 minutes because I was sobbing so hard it jerked me out of sleep. I offer you all my sympathy. Allow yourself to grieve. And if anyone tells you "it was just a dog" punch them in the nose.

Posted by: Susan at August 10, 2004 07:18 PM

Penseur, I'm sorry for your loss. I can still remember the only dogs I ever "owned." I was five when they died and twenty some years later it still saddens me.
I hope talking it over with the Girl Child allows you to let go of those "unshed tears."

Posted by: Jester at August 10, 2004 10:45 PM

A sad story. Condolences.

Posted by: Mark C N Sullivan at August 10, 2004 11:44 PM

I'm extremely sorry to hear it. As a dog owner myself I can only begin to imagine the pain you're going through now.

Posted by: Simon at August 11, 2004 04:40 AM

Thank you all. That's the hardest things about dogs, isn't it? That they have such short lives, comparatively?

Posted by: RP at August 11, 2004 07:13 AM

Sorry about the dog, Random. I've never had an easy time saying goodbye to my dogs.

I agree that honesty is the best policy. My daughter has already had to deal with the deaths of two of our dogs. Whenever she tosses a coin in a fountain to make a wish, its invariably "I wish Tasha would come back," even though she understands the impossibility of it. Also, I placed a small picture of her in her locket so that she can see her whenever she wants. She liked that.

My sympathies.

Posted by: Mick at August 11, 2004 08:42 AM

Terribly sorry to hear that, RP. Nothing tears quite like the loss of a friend.

Posted by: Jim at August 11, 2004 09:41 AM

I'm sorry too, Random. God, this hits close to home. I'm dealing with the old age of one of my most beloved pets right now. It's one of the reasons I haven't been blogging.

At least neither you nor your parents had to take their dog in. Just once I wish I didn't have to do that with one of my pets. It hurts so badly.


Posted by: Amber at August 12, 2004 11:45 AM

Thanks, y'all. I knew you guys especially would understand.

Posted by: rp at August 13, 2004 04:51 PM
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