And then there was one.
One dog in the house. Just one.
One week ago I woke up to find dear Herky had passed away in the night. I had slept on the couch and he was asleep on Otto’s bed on the floor of the living room. I had a feeling numerous times in the night that he had passed on, but I think I didn’t want to believe it because I got up, got all ready for school, and didn’t check on him until the very last minute I could before walking out the door.
And it was heartbreaking and a relief all at the same time. Heartbreaking that all the life was gone from the body that had cuddled with me for 9 years. Relief that he was no longer in any pain and that I wouldn’t have to make that ultimate choice for him.
Now I am not a cryer. I’m not bragging or anything–I’m pretty sure it’s medication-related because I didn’t used to be this way. But let me just say I cried more last Monday than I have cried in years. I cried so much my eyes were swollen and my face was sore from the salt in my tears. I cried so much I was literally a snotty mess. And when I saw my kids cry, I cried some more. Let’s just say I started crying about 7 a.m. and didn’t stop until I finally fell asleep that night. I was worried that I would cry at school the next day, but it’s true that time does heal, and just a night of sleep helped me reel it in and get through Tuesday tear-free. And even Wednesday, when I picked up his ashes, and Thursday. I was still sad (and of course, still am), but I could think about Herky and talk about him without breaking down.
And then came Friday.
My mom, being the kind soul she is, had sent me a copy of Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. If you haven’t read it, it’s a picture book that shows what it’s like for dogs in Heaven. It arrived on Wednesday, but I ignored it, knowing I wouldn’t be able to handle reading it, until Friday. And then I slowly opened the cover.
And it was all over. Tears, snot, loud sobs…they all came back. But it was a good thing. The thought of Herky running free in Heaven without me having to chase him in my car with a hot dog hanging out the window made me happy. He could run all he wanted and never get tired and never have to come back inside. It’s a beautiful book, and I highly recommend it if you’ve lost a dog or if you just want to make someone else cry.
I don’t think poor Otto knows what to make of things. He misses his buddy, who would either want to play tug-of-war with him, have a hump fest (I can say I won’t be missing those times) or growl at him to just leave him the heck alone. Toward the end, when Herky could hardly walk and slept a lot, Otto must’ve sensed it because he was really gentle around him, lying quietly beside him often, and didn’t try to hump him even once.
It’s eerily quiet with just Otto around. I didn’t realize how much ruckus two dogs make compared to just one. I’m not saying it’s idyllic or anything here now. For example, about 10 minutes ago Husband and I were sweeping up a wine glass Otto broke from trying to steal utensils out of the sink and earlier today he ran the neighborhood for about an hour and a half, unbeknownst to anyone in our house. I’m not saying it’s all dull moments by any means.
But it’s definitely duller.
I can say I don’t miss stepping in pee on the hardwood floor every five minutes because Herky could no longer hold it in. Our house does feel a little cleaner. But would I willingly step in pee with every step I take if that means Herky wasn’t gone? Probably.
Husband has already asked how early is too early to start looking for a friend for Otto. I said I don’t know but I do know right now is too early.
Because my track record for acquiring “easy dogs” is just not good. So the odds of us lucking out and getting a puppy that’s easy to train and willingly goes into his kennel instead of foaming at the mouth and screaming when we try to lock him in or somehow escaping, breaking through the plastic bolts, just aren’t good.
I’m sure we’ll do something crazy one day and add to the insanity of our house–again.
But for now, we are down to one. And the memory of an anxiety-riddled, escape artist, pee-happy, lick-happy, sweet Boston Terrier who could steal your heart with his bat ears.
Rest in peace, sweet friend. I can’t wait to hold you on my lap again someday.