Monday, August 06, 2007

How do I miss thee? Let me count the ways...

One of my favourite poems, back in grade eleven English, was this one by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise,
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints -I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Just as there is more than one way to love a person, there is more than one way to miss a person. There are also many ways to miss one's dog, when he has died an untimely death:

I miss you Toby, when I get up in the morning and I look down at the foot of my bed, to make sure I don't step on you, but you are not there.

I miss you Toby, when food gets spilled on the floor and my first instinct is to call you over to eat it, but you are not there.

I miss you Toby, when I still find stray dog hairs in the onions, or in the corners of the stairs.

I miss you Toby when I find your favourite toy outside.

I miss you Toby, when I walk past the hole you dug under the porch steps to keep cool in the summer.

I miss you Toby, when I come home and there is noone to greet me at the door.

I miss you Toby, when I go to close the door so the dog can't get out, but there no longer is a dog.

My hand itches to pet your head. But there is no head to pat.

My voice aches to call you over to the car to come get Papa at the bus, but you are gone.

I would not have thought it possible to miss a dog so much. But I think something happens when you live with a dog. An inside dog is not the same as an outdoor only dog. I think some of our humanity rubs off on an indoor dog. In the same way that a child will go wild, never learn to walk on 2 legs or speak if left to itself for the first years of it's life, thus becoming little more than an "animal", a dog, if constantly stimulated by humans, will become more than a dog, will take on a personality, will understand (if not be able to speak) many words. These dogs seem to have a kind of "sub-soul" Not a soul as humans have, but something close to it. What happens then? Do we ever see them again in Heaven or on a new Earth?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Toby -- March 27, 2004 - August 3, 2007

June 2007

Toby was born in March 2004, in our neighbour's garage, where he works. We got him for free and took him home on Mother's Day 2004. He was the cutest puppy.

Of course, being cute is not everything. We spent an exasperating year, teaching him not to chew on barbies and other toys, to not jump on strangers, to not run off, etc etc.

We used to laugh that we had a vacuum cleaner, (cleaning the floor) roto-tiller, (digging in garden) fan (his tail), hedge trimmer (again, his tail) all rolled into one. The multi-service dog.

He really liked people. Everyone was his friend. We also used to laugh that we could be robbed and Toby would, instead of chasing them off, probably help them move all our stuff to their truck.

We had a real problem with his running off all the time until I finally had to throw a rock at his head to make him stop and realize that it was NOT a game. After that, you only had to pretend to throw something and he stopped in his tracks. The last year, we didn't even worry about him running off any more.

Toby loved to take Marc to the bus in the morning and pick him up again in the evening. He would rush to the door in the morning as soon as he saw we were getting ready to head out. He would also start rushing to the door after hearing the phone ring in the evenings. It usually meant Marc had phoned to say he was about to arrive. Toby understood the words "car" and "go get Papa".

Toby also loved to play with his best friend and neighbour, his sister Caramelle. He loved to fetch a ball and jump in the pond every once in awhile. He could often be found in the summer, digging a cool hole in the wet sand under the deck.

Toby and Gabriel were babies together. They did all the same bad things, digging in plants, chewing on things, getting into stuff, at the same time. Gabriel and Toby used to lie down together, or one on top of each other. I once caught them sitting together at the top of the stairs, with Gabriel's arm around Toby's neck.

Toby was there when Nicky was born. When I moaned, he moaned along with me. He was with me practically the whole time. He came to see Nicky as soon as he was born. In the month that followed, he would bring some of his toys and put them in Nicky's lap, as he was sitting in his car seat.

Toby didn't like Nicky much anymore when Nicky got older and started pulling his hair, but they both got over this, and Nicky really liked Toby.

It took awhile for me to get attached to Toby and to really like him. But, especially in this past year and a half, when I no longer had to scold him, I got really attached to him. Toby was a very good dog. He never complained if you stepped on him by accident or bumped into him. He was always very friendly. And he was quite handsome to boot.

Last Wednesday, Toby got hit by a car. He must have seen a cat or something and ran after it, forgetting he wasn't supposed to go near the road. It was dark and the driver of the car did not see him until he jumped out the ditch in front of them. He couldn't swerve either because a motorcycle was coming. Toby's left side was hit. He had problems with his lung, his ey and both his legs. We spent a lot of money on hospital fees for him, but his front leg was not going to get better and it obvious that it was going to cost a lot more to get him back to health again. Yesterday, we made the very hard decision to have him put to sleep.

So I had to sign his death waiver and leave him alone with a stranger to die. I didn't want to see him die. He trusted me and I left him to die. This is very hard on me, as it is as if I had left one of my babies to die. I mean, I realize that he was "just a dog", but still, I fed him, picked up his messes, played with him, gave him treats from time to time, scolded him... like I do with my kids. I wish now, that I had at least stayed with him instead of leaving him alone. Poor baby.