Words, don’t fail me now.
Don’t let me dissolve into irresolute tears as I attempt to write about the laying to rest of one of our two dear dogs: Cyrano, the beautiful boy, the Fuzzball, the Mighty Chaser of All Thrown Objects. Our Cyrano.
We had him since he was a tiny pup, endured house-breaking him in snowy New York City winters, and drove from the East to our new home in the West with him snuggled in the back seat, on top of suitcases with his sister doggie, Sally.
Finally, last Saturday, we spent the day, well into the evening, at the vet’s, then at an animal emergency clinic finding out that he had a mass growing on his spleen, and that it had traveled to his heart, and that it would have been cruel to expect anything to help … the kindest, most compassionate thing to do? Make the tough decision, one that was for his sake, not for ours — one that would take him from us, in every way but in memory. So we made that call.
I will never forget it. It will haunt me.
Yet, fantastically, he’s sitting next to me as I write, as he always has, his pretty, warm, solid dachshund head resting on my bare left foot. I reach down to rub his phantom fur, and his soft tongue licks my hand. Feels so real. It stops my crying long enough for me to continue writing. He’s everywhere I go, so even though he’s gone, I guess I won’t have to miss him, because I see him everywhere. And feel him. It doesn’t seem possible he’s actually gone.
But he is.
After all, we shared 16 years of life, Cyrano and I, including discovering the beauties of San Francisco together, his short legs tripping up hills as I huffed and puffed; him marking his territory all over the Marina Green, romping on Crissy Field, peeing in secluded corners of Fort Mason, as we waited for Peter at the end of his work day.
My husband is bereft. Oddly, he’s never had to put a beloved pet to sleep before, so this is new territory. I hold him as he sobs. And he holds me. We watch a lot of junk TV and order pizza. We have been eating ice cream. Lots of ice cream.
But even the best sweets can’t take the place of this dog that cuddled with us for over a decade and a half. Our household is a mess of wadded tissues and piles of photos of Cyrano, from when he was a baby dog till his very last days. We swim in sadness and the joy of so many fun memories of his brilliant puppy self.
Oh, you all know how it is. You’ve lost pets before.
How is it that the pain of such a loss seems more acute than the loss of a human friend? What is that about? How can that be?
It’s true; Cyrano’s history is the history of what has evolved to be my modern family. Old story, told in this column before: Back in New York, ex-husband, Paul, gave tiny Cyrano and his tinier sister Sally to us as gifts; we were so busy, we nearly gave them away — then we fell in love with them. I took the pups to Dr. Cole, the vet down the street, who was looking for the right guy, and I fixed the good doctor up with Paul … they fell in love and have been together ever since. And now we have shared a house here for several years, dogs and all. So the story of Cyrano (and Sally) is a love story, in a far-reaching sense. Dogs of love. And Cyrano was a serious lover, devoted, and ardent.
In his last years, I couldn’t leave a room without him following me.
And I dared not go to bed early without him to cuddle down next to me, leaving Peter and Sally in the den to watch football. Cyrano and me. We loved to read. I fancied he disliked football as much as I did.
But now, I get to not enjoy it without him, and that will take a while for me to get used to. Cyrano is in my soul.
Which is actually a good thing, because that way, he’ll never really be gone.