photo by Sheri Dixon

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Lesson We Hate

"Everyone leaves, son. Through relocation or emotional separation or death...nothing stays the same and everyone leaves."

My 13 year old son's dog was only 2 years old. After having given his heart to 2 already aged dogs and having his heart broken when they died, I chose for him a little wild-haired terrier/poodle...because those damn things live forever.

Alec (son) and Aaron (dog) were inseparable. Since Alec home schools that's a literal statement. Outside, they explored our property back to front and side to side and never tired of it. If Aaron got sidetracked by some smell or sound and Alec rode off on his bike without him, you'd see in just a few moments Aaron flying full flat out- ears pumping and tail ruddering after his Boy, short little legs a blur.

Inside, Aaron was under Alec's chair at the dinner table (or ON the chair eating his dinner if he left the table for a glass of milk) or sleeping on the desk chair in Alec's room where he could see Alec at all times. He wasn't a snuggler, but he needed to be within nose's reach at all times. He did love the schnauzer. He couldn't be in the same room as her without humping her ceaselessly until Alec would notice and say sternly, "Aaron- I'm going to have to ask you to stop that."

Aaron wasn't very well housetrained. He and Alec would be outside for an hour, come inside and he'd pee on the (thankfully cement) floor. Alec would sigh and say, "Aaron- you're a terrible terrible dog". And Aaron would wag his tail furiously and gaze at Alec adoringly.

If Alec was away, Aaron would curl up on the bed and nap till he got home. If Alec left him behind and went somewhere on the property without Aaron? The noises that came out of that little dog would put a slaughterhouse to shame.

His wild hair and behavior when separated from his Boy earned him the nickname of Meth Muppet.

You may be thinking, "That sounds like an awful dog" and you'd think so, wouldn't you?

Aaron was long of body and short of legs. He had wiry white hair that was never quite clean. His front feet always pointed a platypus- even when he ran.

His eyes were different sized. Really. But they were serious intelligent eyes. His other nickname was Aaron the Freakishly Understanding.

Alec could balance Aaron upside down along the length of his arm (tail against his elbow bend and head in his hand) and carry him around that way. Aaron would fall asleep like that.

Alec would sit Aaron upright in his lap, dog back against boy chest, and use Aaron's paws to gesture while he talked. Aaron would fall asleep like that, too.

Aaron first got sick back in May. Liver failure that responded to fluids and antibiotics so they thought it was an infection.

We boarded him at the vet's when we went on vacation in July and they re-did the bloodwork just for fun. The liver values were better...but not normal. We realized that Aaron probably had a birth defect that had made it easy for the infection to take hold back in May and he was most likely a dog with numbered days; but from May through last week you'd never know it by his behavior and outward health and we were thinking months, maybe years, but not literally days.

He crashed last Saturday, spent the weekend at the emergency clinic on fluids and not eating with very bad liver values.

Monday he went back to the regular vet and Tuesday he was eating, so we were hopeful- we were sure (even the vet) that he had gotten another infection and would respond as before.

Wednesday he really crashed. Stopped eating and his bloodwork was twice as bad as just four days prior- all organs were now failing. He was retaining fluid in his abdomen and his breathing was labored.

Alec spent almost an hour with him in his lap, and stayed with him till the end.

I know in my heart that he would not have survived the night, and we all know it was so much 'better' for us to have been able to say goodbye...for him not to have been alone.

My six foot tall boy's heart is broken, and because of that so is mine and so is Ward's.

It's not fair. It's not sensible. It's the lesson we hate- that those we love are here one minute and then gone...whether or not we're ready and whether or not we have time to steel ourselves for it.

Our family is not religious, but we believe in science and I personally believe in energy- that little spark, the life spark in all of us that some call a soul. I believe energy can be focused and sent (also known as 'prayer') and I believe the scientists when they say that energy cannot be destroyed- it only shifts somewhere else.

I told Alec that I believe when a companion animal passes on in the presence of their loved one, it's easy- when their life spark leaves the furry body, it attaches to its human...because that's all they ever want- just to be near us.

It's not the same. It'll never be the same. He'll be looking for Aaron and missing Aaron forever.

But he's right there. Balanced in between his elbow bend and hand, upside down. And sleeping.

Alec visiting Aaron at the emergency clinic over the weekend. Rest in Peace, little buddy.