Kathdin the Black Menace
And so here it is that we part ways. You, with the serene, self-possessed manner that has epitomized your adult life and me, kicking, screaming and crying my way toward this inevitability I don’t want to address, as is my way. You are ready, I am not. I don’t know how to visualize my future without you in it. Unfairly I have burdened you with the role of being my stabilizer, my anti-depressant in 4-legged form, my calm and my confidence. Who’s going to walk me to the door every day as I leave for work, and stare at me with those bright, all-knowing eyes? Their message is always the same, “I’ll be here mom, don’t worry about a thing, I’ve got this.” And on my return, despite the chaotic revelry offered by the other 4-legged kids, whose face am I going to look for first when yours isn’t there anymore? How much love will I have leftover for them? The air all around and through me feels as if it has been sucked right out, leaving me deflated, flat, moving against a strong force I have no will to fight. This last, great gift that only I can give you comes at too high a price. I wonder if you are aware. How to help those who think I’m crazy understand? Does it really matter if they do? Can a dog really provide all of the things that they think only a human child can? You are the only first-born child I will ever have. You are the best thing I have ever done and who I can do no more for other than give you peace. You are the longest relationship I have been faithful to without wavering. You are so many things that I wish I was. Your Legacy includes so much more than what you have done for me however. You are a Canine Good Citizen, a Therapy Dog; you’ve helped teach children how to read. You were and are the inspiration for my canine behavior consulting business, featured prominently on my logo. You have taught countless puppies and fearful dogs how to accept the presence of other dogs without aggression and how to play appropriately, never once having been aggressive or fearful in return. And although each time I have brought home a new dog since you came into my life, you’ve given me that “really, another one?” look; you have accepted their presence with grace and offered your life lessons to them all the same. I don’t yet know all of the ways I will honor you after you are gone, after you’ve left me today. In the height of emotion there are countless ideas we spin around and vow to uphold moving forward, some of which see the light of day and others that don’t. I do know that I will always look for that same light in the eyes of every new dog I meet. That I’ll be searching for that calming influence again and that I will think of you and how your presence made me feel each time I start to spin out of control in the future. I’ll remember you forcing me to get out of bed in the morning during my graduate school depressive episodes, going so far as to urinate on me one morning that I refused to get up. I’ll remember you forcing open closed bathroom doors to lie on the bathmat while I was showering. I’ll remember you steady, standing next to me through my marriage, my divorce. I’ll remember the way you slept in front of my locked bedroom door when I was threatened by an abuser. I’ll be channeling Katahdin here while you’re patiently waiting for Jenn wherever it is that you’ll be. You are leaving me a better woman, rich in life lessons and inspiration to move forward. That’ll do buddy, that’ll do.