Dogs are the best part of us. We love dogs with our whole hearts – we give them the unconditional love and support we as humans wish we had, and wish we could give to other humans. But in my many years of living, I have found that no love is like the love we have for this wide-eyed, cold-nosed, beyond loyal companion. And I am a cat person. Don’t mistake – I love my cats very, very much and of course have in the past lost my mind when they died, and will lose my mind again when the two I have now shuffle off their mortal coil. But dogs, man. It’s a level of love that is just…different. At least for me. They comfort. They WANT to comfort. They are just…like looking at the better part of your soul, without judgment, without any kind of expectation. Well, maybe the expectation of treats.
I’m thinking about a lot of awesome canine friends today, and just thought this was a good enough space to put down these thoughts. So for Nutters, DJ, Maggie, Quest, Bailey, Belle, Sarge, Snuffy, Wallace, and Reggie – especially Reggie – I hope you get all the cheeseburgers and whatever else your beautiful dog heart ever desired in this life. Because we sure as fuck don’t really deserve you.
You can never know when you wake up that this will be the day you have to put your dog to sleep. Millions of paragraphs have been written about losing those that we love, but nothing will seem to resonate with you on this day. No one else can possibly understand what the pit of your stomach feels like as you make all the motions you have to make: The decision, the comforting of your friend, the doctor as she listens for the stillness of the heart. And your heart fucking drops at the same exact time. Except you’re still moving around.
You walk away and immediately duck into the first bathroom and bawl as silently (or not) as possible. You wipe your tears with the world’s roughest toilet paper and walk out into the all-too-bright February sunlight, knowing that doing the right thing sucks so much that you just want to lay down in the middle of the parking lot.
You drive on auto-pilot.
You go to your house and your friend is not there to greet you with a wag and a kiss, but all of your friend’s stuff is still there. Like he was just going to the groomer or something. You wander around the house. You pick up the toys. You gather beds. You gather treats and food to give to someone you love. And you sob. Uncontrollably. Ugly crying. Unashamed crying. You don’t know when it will stop.
This was my morning. February 4, 2016. Today marks my second year of sobriety. Today is a day that has been horrible, and yet amazing, because it has forced me to do something I could not do when I drank – I have been forced to feel. While it has absolutely been one of the most heart-wrenching days of my life, I could have never felt this over 2 years ago. I would have drowned all this out. And surprise – I wouldn’t go back to that place for all the money or happiness in the world. No one is more surprised than I am.
I would never be able to feel the absolute gratitude I have for this little dog that came into our lives 9 years ago. I had no idea how much he had given me. He comforted me through so many hard days and celebrated with me on days filled with joy. He gave me his absolute and complete devotion and love. He gave me his trust. He had a full life, and I am so thankful that we were able to give him that.
Sobriety to some may seem like a long list of “nevers” that you have to tick off. But for me, sobriety is a never-ending book full of “always.” I will always have the memory of knowing that I was there for him in his last moment. I will always have an abundant circle of friends and family around me to comfort me when I am in need. And I will always, always marvel at this magic fucking universe that gives so freely of itself, and fills up my short life with the wonder and size of the love that is within it.
For Mister William Wallace. Chase those frogs, buddy.
I’ve been saving this story for y’all. Merry Giving of the Thanks! Enjoy your foul.
Now that I’ve retired from roller derby (a subject to be tackled later with a box of wine, a stack of kleenex and less jokes than usual at my dispense), I’m left with a fairly large amount of time on my hands. Time, mind you, that has been used so far to a) watch the movie “Pitch Perfect” four times in a row, and b) cook food. Cooking food equals dishes, pots, and pans. All these items must be cleaned after usage.
Which leads to about the best, most exciting evening ever. You too could share an evening like this. With me. Step into my glamorous life for five minutes (or less). That’s about how long it might take you to read this, and almost as long as it took for this particular enchanted evening I’m about to relate to you, dear readers, to unfold.
It was a Thursday evening, and there wasn’t a thing that was remarkable about this magical Thursday, except that I was left to my own devices for dinner and entertainment. The “entertainment” I chose was to finish up some work, which is hardly amusing. After setting up my laptop in my cozy little place in the kitchen, I decided to procrastinate a little longer on the festivities that awaited me and do the washing up resulting from my lonely dinner (which was probably some form of chicken and/or pasta, because I’m inventive like that.)
So I am doing the dishes, and I have let my adorable and lovable terrier, Mister William Wallace, out in the backyard to do whatever it is he does out there. I look out the screen door, and lo and behold, it appears as if he is, at this particular moment, doing something that he should not be doing, as he is chewing mightily upon something. THERE IS NOTHING TO EAT OUTSIDE, Dog. What is it you have??? My curiosity is now piqued. I dry off my hands and go to put shoes (well, Crocs, which are totes not shoes) on my unshod feet. I need shoes because whatever it is might be gross. I leave the sink area…OH WAIT. Now might be a really good time to draw you a picture of my kitchen. You know how I likes to draw.
As you can see, my kitchen looks relatively harmless. What about now? Do you see any potential “issues”?
So on the way to put on my shoes, these things happen in this order:
1) Trip over laptop cord.
2) Laptop and 30-lb wood cutting board crash to the tile floor.
3) I fall in to the corner of the METAL TABLE that, not shown in the picture, houses all of our liquor.
4) Ribs subsequently feel giant rush of pain.
5) 3 bottles of alcohol careen to tile floor.
6) A lid pops off of the bottle of kirsch that I’ve used exactly one time, immediately filling the room with the scent of alcoholic fruit.
7) None of the bottles actually break.
8) I lay on floor for about 30 seconds in amazement at the entire progression of events.
BUT OH SHIT THE DOG IS STILL EATING SOMETHING BUT FIRST I NEED TO CLEAN UP THIS CHERRY LIQUEUR FOR REAL
I grab the roll of paper towels, look out the door, see the dog is still furiously chomping away, and get back to soaking up alcohol. Throw paper towels away. NOW GO OUTSIDE.
IT IS A TOAD. A GIANT FUCKING TOAD THAT IS ONLY PARTIALLY DEAD. Because this whole time (which has really only been about 90 seconds) he hasn’t been chewing it, per se. He’s been playing with it. With his grody dog mouth.
Which, you might think, is not a big deal. Except this dog has eaten toads before. And it has made him violently ill. SO NOW:
1) Yell at dog
2) Observe flopping toad
3) Turn on hose
4) Proceed to try to get dog to swallow water from hose, but really just end up hosing down dog’s face
5) Observe sad, wet dog
So NOW, I grab said Sad Wet Dog, dry him off, and take him inside and deposit him gently into the bathtub. Because if he’s going to vomit up some toad slime, experience tells me that this is the only place where it is acceptable. All over every rug in the house has already happened before. At this juncture, I’ve phoned my good friend and animal lover Daisy, because a) she needs desperately to hear about what just ensued and b) she can tell me if my dog might die and what I can do to prevent that from happening.
How the conversation really goes:
ME: HOLY SHIT YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE WHAT HAS AND IS HAPPENING WTF
HER: Um, maybe you should exaggerate more.
ME: I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND MY LEVEL OF TRAUMA RIGHT NOW IN FACT THERE ARE MULTIPLE LEVELS IT’S JUST LIKE INCEPTION BUT WITH WALLACE AND LIQUOR AND A FUCKING EXTENSION CORD
ME: IS MY DOG GOING TO DIE WHY DON’T YOU COME OVER HERE AND HELP MEEEEEE
HER: Is he vomiting? Are your ribs broken? Then maybe we should get past this part right here where I have to tell you to be a little less dramatic.
ME: WAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH THANKS I AM SURE ALL WILL BE OK BYYYYEEEEEE
HER: You are a winner at life. I mean this literally. Don’t forget to go kill the toad in the kindest way possible.
ME: I WILL (hangs up and leaves Toad to die in yard alone)
Meanwhile, the dog is exhibiting zero signs of illness. He’s mostly confused, because he’s in the bathtub which he hates, he’s wet, which he hates, and evidently has now realized that he misses Toad. Because it’s his new mouf-buddy.
I check outside. Toad has ceased to flop. Which is good, because despite Daisy’s plea to humanely end this toad’s life, I AM NOT IN ANY WAY PUTTING MY HANDS NEAR A TOAD. Toad, if not dead, will be forced to die cruelly and slowly because of my irrational fear. Of toads and toad-related items.
Besides, HAVEN’T I GONE THROUGH ENOUGH ALREADY????
Dog did not die. Dog was fine. Toad did die. Sorry, Toad. I suffered a righteous bruise on my ribs for about 2 weeks.