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Archive for April, 2010

This is probably more of a tweet or a facebook status than a “post,” but this is where I am when I’m thinking it, so I’ll say it here.

I dream of Biscuit a lot. And I miss him terribly. On PMSing days, I ruminate that he was the only one in the family (or on earth, or whatever), who REALLY loved me. When I dream of him (which I love to do), I can feel his fur, and his warmth. Very real. The only good thing that has come of this is, I sleep better. Biscuit was always in bed before me, and I would slide in between him and Jif (Jif under the covers, Biscuit on top), like sliding into an envelope. I would position my body however I needed to, to avoid disturbing Biscuit. Often, this left me considerably contorted. I did not realize how much so until I started waking up without stiff neck, hips, etc., from the awkward positions I slept in. And until I realized that I wasn’t waking up a few times a night trying to adjust my position within the envelope. (Dogs make people do crazy things.)

I don’t like being a person in a house without a dog. I will always be a person, I imagine, and always live in some sort of a dwelling (God willing), so the only thing that can make the situation better is to get a dog.

I go on PetFinder.com several times a week, for long periods of time. (Would a pit bull really be a bad idea? There are so many of them on there.) This has been my modus operandi when getting a “new” dog after the passing of an “old” dog: when the day comes that I feel wholly, the feeling that “I want a dog,” as opposed to “I want Biscuit,” then it will be the right time.

Not there yet. I’m still very much in the “I want Biscuit” place.

Well, hell, this would not have fit into a tweet or a status at all.

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When the decision to help Biscuit die had been made, we had to talk specifics with the vet’s people. A very gentle, soft-spoken woman named Heather, presented the options to me over the phone. I asked for the prices of each option. I was somewhat in a fog of grief, so I had to ask her to repeat several things. The gist of it all was, Biscuit’s body could be returned to us for burial (no charge, except for the injection); he could be cremated individually and returned to us in a basic urn, or in a decorative urn of our choosing ($200 plus injection and urn cost); or he could be cremated along with all the other animals who had recently died, and nothing would be returned to us ($90 plus injection). After going over the prices, Heather added, “I know your bill is already huge, with the last week of day hospital, so I imagine you want to keep costs down…”

“Well, yes,” I answered, on autopilot, while mulling our options. We had once buried another dog in the yard of our old house. We had been told then that it was illegal to do so in our area, and this was a source of anxiety for a very young LG. I thought aloud that cremation would be better. I mentally dismissed, though apparently did not state, that I did not want Biscuit lumped in with all the other deceased pets.

So Heather continued trying to help me with arrangements. “OK, then, we’ll have $90 for the euthanasia; we’ll do the cremation; the mass is an additional $90…”

The mass? We would, I was certain, say a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing as we buried Biscuit’s ashes in the yard, but we had no intention of having a mass for him. $90? For a priest . . . mass cards . . . ? Just when I was mentally finalizing the funeral arrangements, Heather throws in this monkey wrench. I went through an elaborate inner process, trying to find a compartment for this new mass information. I finally decided that I needed to respond something like, “Thank you for thinking of that [clearly, Heather is Roman Catholic, and apparently assumed that we are as well; she is only trying to be sensitive and attentive to our spiritual needs], but we are Presbyterian [Biscuit has received communion (and by “received,” I mean stolen, and by “communion,” I mean bread) on at least two occasions], so we really won’t need a mass, we’ll take care of our own service.”

I opened my mouth to make this rather odd reply, but instead, out came, “Wait, what?”

Turns out, “the mass” meant “mass cremation,” as in, with all the other pets. That’s not what we wanted. Even though we were already dipping into all the $ we had, and some we didn’t, for his care, we wanted him cremated alone. I told Heather this, and that we’d take the basic container, nothing fancy, and we’d bring him home to bury him.

So that’s the story of how Biscuit was almost converted at the end of his life. We were greatly surprised that the “basic container” which I imagined as a plastic margarine tub, is actually a lovely wooden box with an intricate floral carving on the top. It is now on a bookshelf. I don’t know when or if we’ll bury it. Presbyterian.

RIPBiscuit

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wannabee 1

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. — Agnes Sligh Turnbull

James 1:17

Many of you have heard this, but I’m aware many have not. Two weeks ago this past Friday, Biscuit, the VBD, died. With Jif there, our vet administered an injection. Biscuit had developed a digestive problem that made him unable to digest food — any food at all — for over a week. Three good vets tried to diagnose and treat the problem, but they were unsuccessful. He spent the last week of his life, days at the vet, getting IV fluids, and nights at home with us.

On the night before we finally made the decision, LG took him outside to see if he’d play fetch. He did. He ran all over the yard, sniffing out, then returning, his toys. We were elated. For a moment, it looked as though he could recover. I ran in and called the vet, who had raised the possibility of euthanasia, to give her the good news, and tell her that it ain’t over yet.

As I watched longer, it became clear to me what I was seeing. Years ago, one of Jif’s cousins, a heavy smoker in his 40s, lay comatose and dying in a hospital bed. Even as he lay dying, he repeatedly, mechanically raised two fingers to his lips, then extended his arm outward; back to his lips, outward. Smoking was such a part of him, his body wasn’t going to stop going through the motions until it . . . stopped. I won’t say that Biscuit’s fetching was that mechanical — truly, it wasn’t, because I believe he did feel joy in the play, and I know LG and I felt joy, playing with him — but it was so much a part of him that he wouldn’t stop as long as there was breath in his body.

I called the vet back and told her, “I think he would play fetch until he fell over, into a coma.” She agreed. We tried force feeding for one more day, and then made the painful decision to help the VBD do what he had, on some level, already decided to do. On the evening he was to go to the vet for the last time, my back was “out” and I couldn’t walk upright. After LG and I kissed his snoot and told him how much we love him, Jif took him.

There’s another hole in my heart. I don’t equate dogs and humans. Truly, I don’t. But losing my Mom and my dog in the course of a year . . . the two losses are not as dissimilar as I might have predicted they’d be. Perhaps partly because I rarely saw my Mom; in many ways, with the insulin injections and the blindness, our lives revolved around Biscuit’s needs. There is not one speck of complaint in the previous sentence, btw. He more than deserved any TLC he got from us, and then some.

There is more to say. About how they tried to give my Protestant dog a Catholic sendoff, about how people can be so insensitive when commenting on the loss of a pet, and about how grateful I am for the love and support…I’ll save those for the next installment. This is enough for now.

I think most of the posts mentioning or showing Biscuit are categorized under his name, if you want to know more about him. (Thanks to Shawkey for the quote here.)

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You two are among the most shallow, insensitive people I’ve ever met, and I wish I didn’t have to spend any time with you at all, ever.

I don’t care that it’s been 16 years. I still think your husband is gay. He ain’t taking all those trips looking for work. There’s this movie I think you should see…

I’m tired of you trying to excuse your temper tantrums by saying, “I’m Italian!” I’m a hillbilly, but you don’t see me married to my cousin. You don’t have to personify your culture’s most dysfunctional stereotypes.

*****

Your turn. You know darn well you have something to say. Let ‘er rip. We won’t tell.

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Easter Sunday

I’m not up to writing a post, but it is after midnight here on the east coast, so I want to say:

He is risen!

Of course, I like to keep in mind that this is true every day.

I have much for which to be thankful, and I want to tell you about that; and I have some things which cause me much sadness, and I want to tell you about that, too. Soon, I will.

But for now, anyone who’s still stopping by here, I wish you a joyful Easter. A new beginning, a rebirth, if that’s what you’re needing. And if not, then some chocolate bunny ears.

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