Tuesday, February 5, 2013



I've been reading, The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller.  It's a tough book to recommend, it's a bit depressing about a postapocalyptic world.  It's beautifully written though, with some phrases having me sigh with the poetry of them.  Last night I was reading a segment about the main character, Hig, and his old dog, Jasper.  Jasper warns his owner about any dangers that are around night or day ... and there are many as, like most fiction regarding a world after the apocalypse, humans just don't get along so well.

Hig takes Jasper hiking up into the mountains in order to hunt and fish what little wildlife is still around in the higher elevations.  Jasper is moving very slow, seeks out the sunshine whenever Hig stops to fish, sleeping, but always aware of his owner.  After they've made camp and had dinner Hig gets the bedding ready and Jasper "walks stiff to me almost a hobble, the hike today long.. then he curls against me with his customary collapse and huff."

In the morning Jasper is dead, having passed in his sleep.  It takes a long while for this truth to sink into our main character's reality.  Heller has Higs' grief dawning slowly and I had tears streaming down my face.

This part of the story line is too close to my own story with my old gal, Ella.  Ella is still very much here, but she definitely "hobbles" more than trots, "collapses with a huff" and tends to lick her wounds often;  but the wounds are really her swollen joints aching.  She continues to try and care for this pain the only way she knows how.  When her Lyme disease is in remission she will ask to go for a trail run, and I will take her for a very short one because I've seen how she twirls in delight and takes off with a stiff-legged gate down the path in pure joy.  Even though I know she will be very sore for a couple days, I'll give her aspirin and I will not say "no" to her and keep her from this bit of happiness she and I share.

She's been with me for  twelve years.  Jim and I picked her out when she was eight weeks old.  Jim took her to the office with him where she was a magnet walking through Portland's old port for any dog lover to "aw" over.  She went through Jim's cancer with me, often times refusing to join me to go on errands if Jim was going to be left alone to nap.  She would walk backwards away from the door and just look at me, "OK, you stay and watch over Jim.  I'll be right back."  And she'd turn and go to lie beside Jim  on the couch.

She comes to the office with me everyday now.  My clients love her.  She's not a "licensed therapy dog" but there is much therapy to be had for most people when they walk in and see her tail pounding the floor in recognition.

Reading about the death of that old dog last night nearly ripped me apart.  I don't know how much more time Ella has with me, but I know the days are more numbered now than they were a few years ago.  I've had people ask me if I'm prepared for when she has to go.  Prepared?   I'm not sure how one prepares for this.  Certainly I know it's going to happen and I also know that no matter what I do now or how often I turn and face the inevitable ... when she goes it's going to rip me apart.

But I won't take any action until she tells me it's time and not before.  When she gives me that look, that I've seen in my other dogs, there's no denying when she'll be ready.

  How I would love for her to just pass in her sleep while we lay out under the          

   Loving you all back,


  1. Loved your post! Dogs are so special - we just lost our beloved Vizsla, Scarlett and the hardest part (besides losing them) is realizing that they are taking the time with them...the time spent with them and the time spent living - it is a very tough thing. Hang on to her as long as you can and try to notice the good in her day...her tail wagging, her happiness at a short walk, her contented nap next to you, her joy at seeing you. She isn't noticing the things you are worried about...she only wants to be near you....I love your blog..you should write a memoir about you and Jim and Ella!!!

  2. Thank you Anonymous!

    Yes, enjoying her today ... no regrets. I want no regrets!