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Dogs: The agony and the ecstasy

Is loving worth it?
Sally and Cyrano

The house is so much quieter now. Neater. And much cleaner.

No click-click-clicks of tiny hard nails on the shiny wood floor; no soft whimpers or whines saying, “Pick me up, pick me up. Hold me!” No puddles of pee in odd and unexpected places; no damp blankets wet with yesterday’s failed-to-get-outside-in-time bathroom efforts. Housebreaking became passé several years ago when the aging bladders of both our pups began to fail. You see, we loved them too much to punish their mistakes. We did try doggie diapers. But they were ridiculous and useless. Not to mention too silly looking to bear.

Our home has no more random rubber-backed throw rugs scattered around to help the elderly dogs walk easier, protect the wood, and to ameliorate the effects of unstoppable pee. I gave the throw rugs to the vet’s office, all washed, sweet-smelling and folded, when we took Sally there at the end of November. Vets’ offices always seem to appreciate more towels, rugs, and blankets. I even took an old doggie bed there not long ago. Our pups were no longer using it, so maybe other animals would benefit.

Yes, our home is more civilized. Which brings to question: What is the meaning of civilization. But that’s another column.

Our home is saner, cleaner, neater, but it is also lonelier and more desolate.

Drier. Bone dry, in fact. All dog bones, milk and otherwise, have been given to

neighbors’ lucky pooches. I now have more shelf space in our kitchen. There are empty spaces where dog supplies used to be. Seems so strange.

We put Cyrano away a year ago. My husband reported that that simple, ultimately kindly act scarred him for life. He’d never put a beloved pet down before.

And we sent Sally, the sister doggie, across the Rainbow Bridge just before Thanksgiving. She’d aged noticeably, and we were more prepared for it, but I feel the loss wretchedly. Sobbingly. Life is so unfair. It gives us all these wonderful things — the soft warmth of unconditional love — then takes them away. Why must a dear pet’s life end, ever? I rail against the empty answer of a winter sky. I am desolate. Truly broken of heart and sadder than sad. My insides are a mush of sorrow as I write this column, and I know you all know what I’m talking about, because the Marina Times readers are pet lovers. My insides are empty and there is a cool place across my chest and upper arms where a warm, small furry dog once cuddled. I feel cold and naked there. Even with a sweater on.

Sally was better than any sweater.

I have to imagine that she and her raucous furry brother Cyrano have been reunited joyfully, snuggled sweetly against each other once again, as they loved to be when they were with us. All their aches and pains are gone. They are happy. Just last night I had a dream in which Cyrano barked loudly in my left ear that they were doing fine. I know, I know, I am waxing particularly sentimental this month, but I owe our two “kids” a few column inches, because, in a way, they were the authors of our current life. An intrinsic part of why we are where we are. Many of you know the story, as I’ve written of it before in this space, but here’s the skinny:

When Peter and I got together in New York 18 years ago, Paul, my dear friend (and ex-husband), bought us two 12-week-old dachshund puppies as a sort of revenge, housewarming gift (he and I had two when we were married). It was a well meant and deeply loving gift, and after we decided not to throw them out the ninth-floor window, we fell in love with them: Sally and Cyrano. When the time came, I took them to the vet down Broadway, Dr. Stephen Cole, and on learning he was looking for the right guy, I fixed him up with Paul, and I made a match. We became a family, and the dogs had good, free care, for a long time. It was Stephen who wanted to move West, and eventually, we all did. And here we are. So the dogs were the catalyst for the chemistry of our life today.

The end of the dogs marks the end of an era for our little family.

And so, as we begin this new year, with so much in flux, so many of our important principles challenged as a nation by a president elect who scares so many of us, Peter and I begin a life without dogs.

We will not get a new one any time soon.

We need time to miss dear Sally and Cyrano — the pups who helped shape our life. And miss them we shall.

May 2017 be good to us all.

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