Tag Archives: loss

the unexpected one

We find ourselves here once more.  Telling the story of a little dog who unexpectedly wove her way into our hearts.  Yesterday afternoon, with the gentle and kind assistance of the wonderful folks at Cincinnati Animal Medical Center, I said a tearful goodbye to our Charlie.

She wasn’t always ours.  Charlie began her life as the much coddled lap dog belonging to Tony’s mom Pat.  Very shortly after she came to them, health problems began to take center stage as can happen in life and Charlie learned to tolerate shuttling to and from the homes of relatives between hospital stays.  After Pat’s husband Larry passed away, Charlie and Pat settled into a number of peaceful years and I know Charlie was great company for my mother-in-law, who was now very much on her own.

Eventually, Pat’s own health began to suffer and with that, her ability to care for her beloved little dog.  And so, in the grand arc of all the things involved in Caring For An Aging Parent, we took the dog.

She was a bit worse for wear, having been reared on tasty but lacking-in-nourishment “treats” and too little exercise.  When Charlie arrived here at Chez Bogard, she weighed almost 20 pounds and was unable to even walk up the driveway without lying down to rest.  Eventually, forced into the Bogard Clean Living Plan featuring good food, no junk, and more and more gentle exercise, Charlie lost her extra pounds, getting to a healthy 13 pounds.  Imagine losing a third of your body weight!!  Over time, the compounding changes in her health led to a softer, whiter coat and more energy.  Charlie’s feisty personality really blossomed and she settled into life here, amazingly able to keep up with our two larger dogs, Iris and River.

“Even the tiniest poodle or chihuahua is a wolf at heart.”

~Dorothy Hinshaw

But honestly, her favorite thing was lying around on the couch.

Charlie was the last creature I saw each night before I went to sleep as she liked to lie at the foot of our bed.  Sometimes, in full moonlight she would shine like a bright little beacon.

I often drew her in my bedside drawing practice.  I’ve always liked scribbly dogs, and Charlie was very scribbly indeed.

As you may have read, the last couple of years have been a bit rough around here with quite a bit of loss and grief.

Charlie spent nearly a year as our only dog and we could see she was aging a bit.  But we adjusted.

She was able to go to the seashore for the first time….

And she continued to make friends wherever she found herself.

Last December we adopted a puppy called Philomena and Charlie, once again, adjusted beautifully.

Eventually.

I find myself this morning settled with our decision to let her go.  Everyone who knows us had been saying for a while, ‘maybe it’s time’, but I struggled to know when exactly that time was.  For a good long time now, Charlie has been deaf to all but the shrillest sounds, blind to all but the shifting shadows of light and dark.  Still, she had her routine and she carried on.  We managed her pain as best we could and carried on with the day to day.  She relished meal time in what I now know was an almost demented obsession.  I look at the photos of her from as recently as this past spring and I can see how much she had shifted in just the last couple of months.  Gone was the brightness in her eyes and she just seemed weary.  Much as I hated to admit it, I was holding on to her for my sake, not for hers.  It was time.

We didn’t choose Charlie, rather we all just sort of fell together somehow.  I always joked that “she was not the brand we ordered.”  Here was a dog who’s hair care routine was more expensive than my own! And yet, she was one of us.  We learned a good deal of patience through the stewardship of this little dog.  We learned that change is possible – good, solid, life-altering change – at any stage of life.  Charlie may have been an unexpected acquisition, but we loved her well.

Long may you run, Charlie.

 

 

The cat who hugged back

“And I see the leaves turn a bit in the air and the breeze coming in feels like the whole world is a pet that is breathing on me and I think, ‘Well, I am so sensitive and I am very fragile but so is everything else, and living with a dangerous amount of sensitivity is sort of what I have to do sometimes, and it is so very much better than living with no gusto at all.  And I’d rather live with a tender heart, because that is the key to feeling the beat of all of the other hearts.'”

~Jenny Slate, Little Weirds

Greetings from the House of the Broken-Hearted.  It’s taken me a few days to get to this post, with yet another chapter of sorrowful news.  I am so used to writing about dogs.  Their antics and full presence in my life has always been a more public thing here in this space of sharing.  But the cat, well, the cat somehow occupied a quieter, more private, place in my heart.  How to even begin to write about the gentle and constant presence of a quasi-domesticated creature who has shared our home for nearly 16 years?   Yet with a few days to ruminate, and scroll through old photos, I knew I owed at least a blog post in honor of Ian Small.

It seems Iris and River were holding up the train for this old cat who, much to our sadness, opted to join the rest of the ginger-flavored crew onto the Next Great Adventure late last week.   With age had come blindness and confusion, weight loss and miscalculations around the litter box situation.  We had been navigating all of this for a good long while.  When I took Ian into the vet well over a week ago, hopeful for a simple fix, she said, “Whenever you are ready, it’s time.”

I came home to sit with it for another week, to give a chance for goodbyes and a few more nights’ snuggling.  But eventually, he peacefully joined the others.  The vet reckons that the big dogs with their big physical presence and their tight routines, had actually aided in Ian’s adjusting to losing his sight a while back and with them gone from his world, he felt a bit lost.

In which Ian shows off his best impression of Greg Louganis.

We all feel a little bit lost here lately.

Ian was a tiny kitten who grew into a huge ginger bear.  The kind of cat who hugged back.

In his prime, he didn’t know a stranger and welcomed all with curiosity and a sweet demeanor.

As he got older, napping was really his most sincere occupation, which he took quite seriously.

This is of course when he wasn’t studying the activities at the bird feeders outside.

It was a difficult decision to give Ian a peaceful passing.  One wonders if the time is ever right.  But in the end, he left us quickly and painlessly and I feel confident it was the right decision, as bereft as I was to have to go through with it.  And there had been so much suffering here lately.  I was not going to prolong it for our beloved cat.

It’s really strange to be in the house right now.  So much change.  So much loss.  A mass exodus of what had been a true life’s blood of the household.  It will be an adjustment I am sure.  And I am soul-weary.

Travel beckons now.  I am nowhere near ready.  But I have in my heart lessons from some four-legged friends on how to be fully present at all times, how to relish in the sensuous delights of occupying a physical body, how to play and make friends and live in a state of beautiful curiosity.

And for all of this, I am deeply grateful.  Rest easy sweet Ian Small.  May there be tuna and catnip upon your arrival in the Land Beyond.  You’ve earned it.