Grieving is a weird experience for me. I’ve never been one to lose it over loss, at least right away. Right now my dog of 8 years is laying at home, unable to move, barely hanging on to life. It won’t hit me until she’s gone, probably. That could be any day now. It could be a year from now. I choose to be optimistic. But, she is 13 years old and that’s about the upper limit for larger dogs like her.
Seattle and I had a rocky start. I’ll never forget our first year or so together. I had just bought a house and it was me and my cat, with Andrea moving in a few weeks later. Along with my future wife came her two cats, Tonks and Jewel. Within a week the question came up “Can I bring my dog?” Now, at this time we’d only been dating for about 6 months and, while I’ve grown up around dogs I’d never had one on my own. But, I knew that Seattle was Andrea’s main pet. She found her on a farm as a puppy and the way she described their first meeting was like a scene from a Disney movie. So, of course, I said yes. For the next year that dog wanted nothing to do with me. I got that vibe of “Oh, you’re another dude. You’ll be gone soon” and so I, in turn, did my bare minimum. I took her out when she needed (if Andrea wasn’t around), played with her rarely, and just overall co-existed. Then, one weekend we bonded and we’ve been best friends ever since.
You see, Seattle is terrified of thunder and rain. It’s bad to the point where she will try and put herself into the smallest part of our house and even injured herself on several occasions trying to open a closet door with her nose. One weekend Andrea was going back to her mom’s house to visit and it was the first time I was charged with taking care of Seattle on my own. It also happened to be the weekend I was on a deadline to finish the visual effects for my part of The Relic of Gotham, a fan film some friends and I made. I knew I wouldn’t sleep so I had several pizzas and cases of Monster Energy ready to go. Over the course of the weekend I spent 36 straight hours sitting at my laptop tediously rotoscoping frame by frame. That weekend it also stormed extremely badly for almost 24 straight hours. When it started I felt something barrel into my legs and sure enough, Seattle was pushing to get under my desk. Never before had she paid me the slightest amount of attention. In those 36 hours she didn’t leave my side and when she wasn’t under my feet she was curled up right behind me panting, shaking, and dog-farting up a storm. From that day forward she officially became my “thunder buddy” and any storm that rolled in you’d find her nuzzling my leg shaking and waiting for me to make it OK. That was the weekend we both realized that we weren’t going anywhere and we’d better start getting along.
Over the next several years I stopped thinking of Seattle as Andrea’s dog and more Our Dog. She was there for me when I had to drive home and put down my own childhood dog Mandy. She always knew the sound of my truck and never, once, has failed to greet us at the front door with a toy (or sock, or empty can of dog food she dug out of the trash). She’s been apart of my house since I bought it, and I know nothing will fill that hole she’s going to leave. I know I won’t feel much sadness until she’s gone. That’s just the way I am. When we had to put her cat Jewel down I made it all the way through the vet visit and the night. It wasn’t until I woke up the next day and there wasn’t a furry little white fluff biting at my shoe laces as I got ready for work. I’m going to be calm and help Andrea get through this because I know this is going to devastate her. But I guarantee the first time walking into the house and she isn’t there with her tail going 90mph, that’s when I’m going to feel it.