Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My best friend

I don't really know much about dogs.  I've actually only ever been owned by one of them.  Most dog people have at least 2 at any given point in time and typically many more by the time they reach 40, but for whatever reason my number is 1.  His name is Hunter.  I did not get to name him, or perhaps more truthfully I put no effort into changing his name when I adopted him.  I figured why fix what isn't broken even though many experienced dog owners recommend a name change to reinforce bonding and obedience.  I suppose I wasn't looking for much obedience and when it comes to Labradors, bonding with people seems baked into each and every one.

Hunter was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to write a few guest posts for me last year.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Yesterday I got called home from work early for what I feared might be my last visit to the vet.  As it turns out, Hunter spent last night with us.  He is resting semi-peacefully at the moment, not more than one mile from the place I got him roughly 12 years ago.  But he has stopped eating and drinking, he hasn't gone to the bathroom, and he can't really walk more than a couple of wobbly steps.  This is the end, that much is clear.

Having gone through these emotions so many times, I expected a certain degree of pragmatism from myself yesterday and today.  Instead, I am merely weathering a storm of grief, as powerful waves of sobbing consume me, punctuated by long periods of wishing he would drink a little bit, worrying about his pain level, wondering, and waiting.  I watched a tear build up in his eye last night, I did not realize that dogs could cry, and it made me so terribly sad to not know the specific reason for that tear.  Is he scared of dying?  Does he contemplate his own death?  Is he worried about me?  Or was he simply crying for what he once was, perhaps what he wishes he still were?

I took off his collar last night for what I assume will be the last time.  He cannot wander on his own anymore and I don't think I can leave his side until this is over.  I had hopes we might reach his 14th birthday together, that we might have a party and invite all of his friends over to see him.  That got pushed up to last night and now that everyone has had a chance to say goodbye, it seems like the right time to do so myself.

I knew this day was coming.  I've rehearsed it in my head countless times.  And yet, I still sob, I am still overwhelmed with grief at the loss of my first and only true pet, best friend, loyal partner.

Goodbye Hunter.