The dog days are over

There is nothing in this world quite like a dog.

This past Friday, I lost a canine friend, a gentle spirit in the body of a husky named Blue. It happened quickly. Tuesday night, he became a bit lethargic. Wednesday, he stopped eating. I took him to the vet on Friday to find there might be a mass in his abdomen pushing his stomach and intestines out of their usual place. A few hours later, he was gone.

Home from the vet, he went straight to the back door, asking in his canine way to be let outside. Once outside, he turned around several times and lay down. He moved from one spot to another in what was likely an effort to get comfortable. We humans each took turns sitting with him. late in the evening, my partner came inside and sat down next to me on the couch.

“He’s almost gone,” he whispered in a hoarse voice.

I went outside and knelt down beside this creature I had only known for a brief time but had come to love very deeply.

I heard a rumbling in his stomach.

“Be at peace, my love.” I caressed the thick, soft fur around his ear.

He let out a low growling sound. Then, all was quiet.

“Blue?” I asked. “Are you ok? Are you still there?”

I massaged his belly and pressed my hand to his chest, feeling for a heartbeat.

Silence.

I went inside.

“Can you check him?” I asked my partner.

He went outside, and I followed. He got down on his knees and moved his hand over the animal who had been so full of life just days before. We had walked through the desert on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday; on each occasion, he had pulled me along from one place to smell to the next with an eagerness that brimmed full of energy and vitality.

“He’s gone.”

We sat together and cried over Blue. I kept imagining that he would open his eyes, like he had just been playing a joke on us these past few days.

He had always struck me as more akin to his ancestors than most of the domestic canines I have known in my life. Like a wolf, he died with dignity on his own terms, in a peaceful place, far from hospital walls.

He was a bit of a mystery to me, so stolid and solitary. I had grown up with Labradors, sensitive souls who follow you from room to room. They would even accompany you to the bathroom, if you let them.

Blue lived outside by choice. He loved his humans but kept to himself. I admired him deeply, his independent spirit. I was much more akin to a Labrador than a Husky myself.

And now I feel that both Blue and I have been cheated. He was only ten. Surely, we could have spent several more years happily wandering the trails through the desert together. I have not had enough time with this Husky. Though I cannot call him my own, my heart is with him.

Now, his spirit is free to wander the woods, dells, and deserts of a realm beyond the ones I know in this life. Should a gentle spirit show up on your doorstep, please welcome him and give him my love.

And please tell him I miss him with all my heart.

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