Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It’ll be September all year

When Frodo first got sick back in late June or July, I had a thought that I don't think I ever spoke out loud, because I couldn't fathom it wouldn't be true. "Just make it through to your month, Mr. September."  You see, Frodo had the honor of having one of his adorable photos from Tails Pet Photography featured in the 2013 Barkstown Road calendar and silly as it sounds, all year I'd been looking forward to turning the page over to "his" month.  Mark and I always said he should be famous; he had the personality and looks of a star. 

So much so that when Mark and I were at the vet with him that day, that very early morning, making that awful decision we knew was the right one, we sat beside him and did one of our favorite activities: listing all his good “features,” as well called them, his physical attributes we never got tired of pointing out, features that had become so dear to us, many with nicknames of their own. His soft and floppy ears, the racing stripe down his forehead, the way his eyes matched his eyelashes which matched his orange fur. His pink tongue. The black lining around his eyes we called his “permanent make-up.” The two little spots under his soft, floppy ears. His wet, black nose, seemingly made out of the same material as his rough, black pads. His “seam,” the place where his fur converged under his belly as if he’d been sewn together.  The "fringe" of fur on his hind legs. His striped toenails. The little tufts of iridescent fur between his toes.  The perfect white tip at the end of his tail.  He had so many good features, and so we went on and on and on, naming these features in the shorthand we'd come to know so well. It was a beautiful moment of the two of us saying goodbye to this amazing creature who we loved more than we thought possible.  

I know that I will never forget those things, or the many other things that made him so extraordinary to me. The funny way he would paw at the door when he needed to go out, or paw-paw when he REALLY needed to go out. The triple-paw was reserved for serious emergencies.  How I could tell on walks whether he was sniffing to find the perfect place to go to the bathroom, or sniffing to gather information on the squirrels that had been there before him, or sniffing because there was some sort of garbage he wanted to consume. The time he escaped from Mark’s apartment and ran straight to the dog park.  The way he groomed himself like a cat. His weird quirk of thinking he couldn’t get to toys thrown well within his reach.  How he barked at himself in the mirror.  The way he could make a “cove” out of anything.  How he instinctively knew if I needed him to cuddle.  The way he’d come up for a morning “greeting” and sit patiently while I petted him, then settle in and lean back, or to the side, directing my hand to scratch him on his chest, or ears. And how if I stopped for just a moment, he’d reach out and paw me, reminding me I wasn’t done yet.  How he could sort through the food I’d given him and pick out the pill I’d tried to slip in. His fear/love of motorcycles, particularly in his younger days. His perfect doga (dog+yoga) poses every morning.

And now I’m faced with having to turn the calendar page again.  Tomorrow is October.  And I’m increasingly aware that while each day gets a little easier without him, the memories of him are fading along with the pain. I guess that’s just how it works.  So now, when I walk in the door, it takes a few minutes for me to remember that I used to be greeted with the thump-thump of his tail, from his perch in the front room, where he always waited for me to return home.  When I move from room to room, it’s no longer quite so strange to not have my dog-shaped shadow behind me.  And as the nights begin to get cold, I can stretch my feet down into the sheets and not always expect to find him burrowed under there.  These things, these sweet little things, were a part of my life for 11 years, and even though I’m moving forward, and I don’t cry about his loss nearly as much, I still want to pause just long enough every day so that I’ll never forget.  So, here in my little world at least, it’ll be September all year.

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