Some deaths aren’t a shock. The pet or person has been sick for a long time and it’s the natural progression that they pass on. There is relief that they aren’t in pain anymore, are no longer suffering. Then there are the deaths that hit you like a rogue ocean wave. It’s big and dark and swallows you whole and you don’t think you will ever be able to look back and not cry.
Almost five years ago my husband and I drove to Philadelphia to pick up our new puppy. English Bull Terrier’s as a whole are independent, stubborn and are basically 60 to 70lb tanks in a small package. They are also loving, loyal and goofy. My own EBT, Agate, was all of those things and more. He used to lay in the kitchen and watch me cook, usually on top of my feet, just in case that piece of vegetable or meat might need cleaning up from the floor. When we brought home a chair-and-a-half from my sister’s house he quickly claimed it as his throne. Although we would occasionally share it, him taking up ¾ of it and I getting what was left.
He would grunt and whine and make the most improbable noises for a dog. Agate would also beg for ice cubes anytime anyone was in the freezer. He chewed up the edges of my muck boots, he chewed my husband’s socks, he stole rolls of toilet paper out of the bathroom and parked himself squarely in front of the woodstove any time it was burning.
This past week I had to let him go. I say I even though he was really both my husband and I’s dog because when it comes to the animals the hard choices are always mine. My husband was a marine and saw so many awful things and never shed a tear. But the animals make him soft and mushy on the inside. Not that I had any of an easier time giving the vet permission when it was clear my dog wasn’t going to recover. But he was more mine than my husband’s and it was the last good thing I could do for him.
I mostly held it together at work. I told no one of his passing, they wouldn’t understand and I thought if I had one person say to me “it was just a dog.” I might be physically violent. He was not just a dog. I raised him, I loved him and in the end I couldn’t protect him like I wanted to.
Yesterday I went to the vet’s office so I could bring Agate home one last time. My husband and I buried him in the backyard in a sunny patch of grass. He liked to lie in the sun. Later I’ll plant flowers there. For now there is only the heartache every time I walk in to the house and he isn’t there. The memories that cloud my eyes with tears and the guilt that I couldn’t save him.
Keep it between the flags everyone.