I Thought I Could Take Or Leave Our Dogs
My wife put me on a two year notice that, when our son turned 13, we were getting a second dog. I never liked the idea. We had a well behaved 8 year old labradoodle named Beegu that was already actively abrading my patience and the last thing I wanted was to double down.
It was kind of a brilliant strategy, I have to admit. I mean, how much of a fight would anyone be willing to wage about something that far ahead of time? And then, when the time finally came, how could I suddenly put my foot down about something for which I had so much warning.
And so we got Havi the Havanese, because Havanese were supposed to be the one exception to the small-dogs-are-needy-nervous-and-yappy-rule. Turns out they are not. Or at least this one was not. I don’t know if his first eight weeks were ladened with Big T Trauma, or if it was just how crazy our house was at the time, but Havi is a bonafide emotional mess.
The two dogs took turns riling each other up, so there was an abundance of insufferable barking and little reprieve from serious anti-social scenes on pretty much every walk.
I started repeatedly asking my wife how long dogs are expected to live. She soon had to impose a flat-out ban on my doggy death jokes. It’s not that I hated them. The problem was simply that I only enjoyed them 25% as much as I needed to in order to break even on the deal.
At fifteen, Beegu had a sudden seizure and we almost had to put her down that night. I was confused by my emotion. I thought I might have to fake some tears so I didn’t permanently alienate my family with my sociopathic indifference. But I didn’t have to. It took me by surprise.
Sweet Beegu survived, but only for a couple of months before we had to put her down. I cried profusely that day as the anesthesia overdose took her away with absolute finality. It hit me hard, and even harder that night.
There is nothing remarkable about being sad to lose a pet except that I didn’t know it was coming. As much as I try to be otherwise, I still have sick skills at stuffing my feelings. I guess I had stuffed these. That night, all kinds of grief overcame me, including the loss of my mom when I was only twenty-one, which I also had shoved down at the time.
I am still stunned by the amount of grief I have stored up in me. I never realized I was that attached to Beegu. But I was wrong. She was a great dog, with a world class bladder, and she had been through so much with us. A few days after she passed my stomach got tied in a painful knot. A week after that, my back spasmed, and remains sore another week later. I guess I still have more grief to unstuff.
Now we’re down to Havi the Half-crazy. He’s a needy, anxious poster pup for everything we fear about small dogs. He’s cute as could be, but needs a full brain transplant. And in these last weeks, to make matters worse, I’ve lost my impulse to make even a single doggy death crack.