Saturday, April 14, 2012

Our Best Friend

Dear Friends,

As some of you have already heard, we recently had to put our beloved dog, Spritzie, to sleep. She was 14 years old.

Intellectually, I have to accept that other pet owners are as attached to their animals as we were to ours, but on an emotional level it's really hard to believe. Spritzie had been so intertwined with our souls for so many years that it truly feels as if a physical part of us has been wrenched from us. She saw us through so much, most recently the upheaval of our move to California. No matter how stressful things got, she was always there to be hugged. She died the day after our two-year anniversary of moving here. It's as if she were saying, “You guys can handle things on your own now. My work here is done.”

I have a tendency to be over-affectionate. I have had to learn over the years not to stroke, hug and nuzzle everybody for whom I have positive feelings. It makes people understandably uncomfortable. Spritzie had no such compunctions. I could pour out my love onto her, and she would take it and take it and take it, and still welcome more. I have many recollections of her lying on her side in the middle of the floor, say, during family gatherings at Lynne's parents house in Connecticut. Everyone would be sitting around the living room talking, and I would be unable to restrain myself. I would throw myself prostrate on the carpet and bury my face in Spritzie's flank and breathe in her dogness. Yes, I had the thought that the others might be judging this as a ridiculous way for a grown man to behave, but this concern paled in the glow of how good it felt to love my dog. I'm at a loss as to how I'm going to replace this experience.

More than one person has mentioned the possibility of us getting another puppy, but this is hard for us to imagine. It seems impossible to us that Spritzie can ever be replaced. Also, if I let myself consider owning another dog, all I can picture is having to go through this grief again, albeit many years from now. All that aside, our experience is that Spritzie's not entirely gone yet. Many of our moment-to-moment, day-to-day responses are to a presence that is no longer there, but feels as if it is. Her bed is still in its customary spot next to the radiator, and Lynne occasionally puts a dog treat in it, like a cup of wine for Elijah. It does disappear, but I'm guessing that's more likely the work of an opportunistic Amenshi (Sierra and Jess' dog) than the ghost of Spritzie.

While Lynne and I had fantasies of Spritzie living much longer than she did, she left us owing us nothing. Many dogs pass away younger than 14, and we are grateful that she provided us with such an intense level of happiness for so many years. As the neurologist, who had recently lost her cat, said, it's worth the pain of losing her to have had the joy of having her. Amen to that.

Thanks for reading.

Best Regards,

Life without emotion is food without seasoning.

-- Vic Baranco