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Willie, the cool dude of Haverhill!

For the Love of a Dog

August 16th 2007 12:11 pm
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As Willie is my "heart" dog, I could have written this myself. I didn't, but I have sat on the floor and cried thinking of life w/o my little 13 lb. furball.

So tonight it happened. I was spinning and Baxter was in his spot where he lays just so the treadle foot barely rubs against the side of his head and it happened.

That sinking moment when you realize that you can not imagine your life without this dog, that it's seems as if you've always been together but you know there will come a time when that all ends.

So there I am bawling my eyes out because Baxter, even though he's just a year will die before I do. Well, one would hope anyhow, I'm only 40.

The realization of the loss, the great gaping absence that will create is just to much, it hurts my heart. Part of that is because a dog, a good dog, gives you something no one else can, something most of us can't give ourselves.

Acceptance. Being good enough. That look, you know, that makes you feel like he's saying 'We belong to each other.' A basic and simple understanding that every time you walk into a room, he will be happy to see you.

That every walk is a revelation, every treat is just the best thing ever and no matter what, you will always be important.

I don't know if dog's love in the sense that we do (probably a good thing) but they rely. The depend on us, they trust us. They are happy when they please us. It takes just 'being' to please them.

Children rely on you too but the outcome is unknown, the relationship can devastate you, your best may not be good enough. Your spouse may love you, but that might end and they will leave.

Your dog, however, your dog will never leave and your best is always good enough, even when you aren't trying all that hard.
Your dog will never wound you.

For someone like me, having Baxter means I can rest. I can stop being hypervigilant because I know, with certainty, that he will be vigilant. That I can stop the 'what will I do if' tape that has played in my head every night for years. I can simply go to sleep.

What have I done to myself, to love and trust this dog? This dog who will die and leave these empty spaces? If the longing I feel for him now, at the thought of it is so overwhelming, how will I survive the actual loss?

Do we know this going in? Would it matter? There is something about a dog, a good dog, a heart dog, that makes us walking wounded feel complete. Tangible, broken down into bits we can understand and expectations we can easily fulfill.

Not so much with people, but a good dog can swell your heart with a look, a gesture, the desire to be near you. Dogs are simple. Dogs are rarely disappointed and if they are they are easily fulfilled.

Dogs die and leave an expanse of longing and grief that can't be measured and is understood by few. How can the mere thought of losing Baxter be so devastating? Dogs allow you to feel. To feel deeply and without reproach and then they die. And there you are, bereft.

Not all dogs. But this dog, damn, the loss of this dog, the anticipation of the inevitable parting is, well, it hurts. What an enormous thing to take on, what an unexpected emotion, this enormous thud in the middle of your chest.

Imagine then the worth of a dog. Because knowing all of this we still enter into this relationship, treasure the bond, seek out the very thing that will on day, be devastating. It's not a tangible value. But what a gift it must be.

So there you go. Because who else would understand? How can you explain to someone who hasn't valued the smell of their dog, the feel of their fur, the satisfied feeling you get when you've done something just for them?

Who else is going to think a grown woman who is in tears over a dog who is alive and well, isn't completely nuts?

Joni, Willie's Mommy


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