The Last Bite

They said you’ll know…. But I didn’t. I didn’t know that it would be the last time I brushed your hair. I didn’t know it would be the last time I made your breakfast, cutting up your pieces of chicken and mashing your vegetables because you wouldn’t eat them otherwise.
You were always so stoic. I didn’t know you were dying. Maybe I just didn’t want to believe the signs that I saw. I always told myself the moment I had to carry you that it would be time. Your leg was so swollen and I had to carry you out to the car and into the vet. I didn’t think for one second your time had come. I sat there on the floor with you and you weren’t worried about being at the doctor’s. They put a thermometer up your butt. I let them this time which I never do because I know that you hate it and it’s a deal breaker. It didn’t even bother you.
The assistant told me how special you are. That you were one of the good ones, almost human.
I remember when you were around 10 weeks old. I was on the couch and I could hear your sharp little puppy teeth mashing down on something hard and plastic. I came over to you, got on my hands and knees, looked you in the eye and held my hand out. I said, “You know you’re not supposed to have that.” You looked at me with complete understanding and without hesitation you spit it out into my palm. I asked, “Who are you?” I knew at that moment you had lived so many lives and you were someone from some other life.
Remember when Jay took us up to his parents farm? It was hot out and you had never been in the water. He just threw you into the pond. I was so pissed as I stood on the bank watching you paddle your front legs and your butt was sinking. You kept spinning in circles. I was about to jump in and get you when Trey jumped in after you. He swam out to you and gave your butt a little nudge to the surface with his nose and you swam to shore all by yourself. You loved to swim after that. That’s how it was with you. You solved every problem on your own or it only took you once to figure it out.
Remember when dad came to pick me up from the airport? He was watching you while I was away and brought you with him to pick me up. When I went to put you into the truck he closed the door on your tail before you could get it in all the way. You always tucked your tail in going through doors after that. Others may not have noticed that behavior but I did and I knew why you did it. Why didn’t I know you were leaving me?
You had one of those unbreakable spirits. At a year old you had your accident. You ended up in the hospital for a week after your surgery. I went every day to the hospital and laid in your kennel with you just to let you know that I was there. That’s when our bond became unbreakable as well. It took that accident to change your independence into it’s me and you, forever.
Remember when we saw that moose in the woods by mom and dads? It scared you so much that you ran over a mile back to the car and ditched me in the woods. I got back to the car and there you were peeking around the rear bumper. You had a soft side and sometimes I caught a glimpse, rarely.
You never once complained when we moved from place to place as I grew up and tried to find my place in this world. From North Carolina to Vermont to North Carolina to Vermont to Massachusetts to Vermont to New York. You could care less where we lived as long as it was me and you.
You touched so many people along the way. Your goofy smile, your calm demeanor, your patience, your courage. You didn’t have a mean bone in your body and I got to take you everywhere with me. You rarely made a sound yet you left a lasting impression everywhere you went. You looked just like Falcor with your head out the car window, ears flapping in the wind. Hiking and swimming and playing ball for hours. Dog parks and mountains and beaches. Remember when you tried to drink ocean water? The ocean wasn’t your favorite. We had so many good times. You have so many people that love you.
You contracted lyme disease and got over it. You had arthritic bones. Your hips were always terrible. You managed pain differently because the body you were given always caused you pain but you would never know it. You were always happy. You got sick for the first time right about the time I met Brian. He is the person you called daddy. The only man you or I ever truly loved. We ended up leaving the home we loved to be with him because he was so special to us.
These last few years have been tough for you. Your body was changing quickly after you hit twelve. Not one single day of your life has it felt like work. You made being a mother to you so easy. Even our hard days were a lot easier because you were so stoic and we had daddy. You were in and out of the vet but you pulled through at thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. You even bounced back from your kidney infection this past spring. You rebounded so hard you amazed the vet. Me and daddy were here to catch you.
The smiling became less. You stopped going for walks. You went from sleeping under the bush to sleeping under the tree. You stopped wanting to be inside or getting up to get the last bite of food. We always saved you our last bite. Did you know mommy taught daddy to do that?
Your leg swelled so bad. I brought you to the vet. I carried you to the car. I carried you into the vet. The thought of never seeing you again didn’t even cross my mind. The vet said it was time for you to go. I didn’t know. To me you never changed from the person you have always been. I called daddy and we stuffed you full of treats outside under the bushes. The doctor came to the house and that’s when I knew. Your head was on my lap and my hand was over your heart. She came in and you didn’t even flinch when these strangers were petting you. You just laid there in my lap. Daddy was holding my hand. I felt you leave your body.
You have made me reflect on what it means to be on this planet. Because of you I believe our purpose of being here is to leave this place better than we found it. I always hoped you would come back to me someday after you passed on. You filled your karmic bank with so much good that it overflowed and spilled everywhere you went leaving rays of light or little blond hairs along the way. If karma really works they way they say it does you’re never coming back to this world. I’m ok with that. I know I must have done something really good in a past life to have you as my companion in this one.
I asked Patrick to take good care of you. He’s going to let me know when he finds you. I got back to the house tonight after teaching. Hemingway was looking for you as I walked in the door. Daddy left me some dinner and I saved you the last bite.
I wrote this in honor of the passing of Molly Dog on November 23, 2015. She was the inspiration for The Mala The Mission, my best friend and the love of my life for 15 1/2 years. There will be new content about Senior Dog Rescue coming soon. Thank you for reading,
Shannon

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