Puppy Posession OR How I Played Catch With Our Dead Dog
When you’re grieving a loss it is impossible to escape the memories. No place is safe.
Every room, chair, blanket, toy, vomit stain, neighborhood walk, and piece of grass is a minefield of emotions.
That applies to the loss of a dog.
For a human being you can just multiply that by a quadrillion.
Since daylight savings time had the bad taste to pick last weekend, the weekend of her death to bestow upon us its gift of an additional hour of daylight, I had the poor judgement to sit out in the backyard and write.
It was one of her favorite places.
It is dog Disneyland, containing all the essentials required for canine happiness.
Grass, toys, balls and frisbees, and the arms with which to throw them (ours), so our OCD dog could wrangle you into a game of catch no matter what other plans you had made for yourself.
Nap? Nope – Catch.
Settle in and read a book? Nope – Catch.
Bar-B-Q, talk with a friend, write a book? Nope, nope and double nope. But good try.
Time for a relentless five-hour game of catch!
You get the picture.
The boxer-shark puppy, Ruby, did not inherit the ball, frisbee, play catch gene.
She inherited a whole myriad of other traits that are even more annoying, like digging up lawns and eating expensive furniture, but that particular “play catch/fetch” gene? It skipped her entirely.
If you throw a ball her way it will hit her in the head and then she’ll watch it as it rolls right past her. Believe me, I just tried to play fetch with her on Sunday.
But that was then –– this was Monday evening.
We were sitting in back, remembering the old girl and crying.
Okay maybe not we, me, I was. My husband I’m sure was thinking: please for the love of God woman, give it a rest.
But grief didn’t care. I was grief’s bitch. Grief was the boss of me.
Anyway…after a half an hour of hearing me carry on, waxing poetic about how Dita would be playing ball right now, Dita would be next to me with the Frisbee,something had to give. With an exasperated sigh the puppy got up off the ottoman, stretched, sauntered over and picked up a tennis ball in her mouth, brought it over to me and dropped it at my feet.
Then she looked up at me with her big soulful eyes, so full of compassion that said: Shut the fuck up already, Here! Throw the God damn ball!
I half-heartedly picked it up and gave it a sideways toss onto the grass, never for one minute expecting what happened next. Instead of watching it whizz by her head like she usually did, the puppy bolted out to the lawn, stopped its momentum, picked it up in her mouth and ran it back to me… Just like Dita.
I jumped to my feet,“Did you see that?” I yelled, wiping the tears from my eyes to clear my vision. Had I imagined it?
My husband straightened in his chair. “Do it again” he said.
And I did; over and over for almost a half an hour. She fetched every ball, just like Dita. As a matter of fact EXACTLY like Dita. Same energy level, same ferocity, she even made the same little growl when she picked it up off the grass.
“If I bounce this ball and she spikes it with her nose, I’m gonna lose my mind” I announced very enthusiastically to my bewildered husband. “Because then I’ll know. That dog isn’t Ruby, that is Dita in that puppy body, playing catch with me so I’ll stop being so sad.”
And on the next bounce she did. She spiked the ball off her nose and caught it in mid-air. Just. Like. Dita.
“If I hadn’t just seen that with my own eyes…” my husband said, shaking his head, eyes welling up with tears.
Here’s the thing:
Our animals, family members, and all the people we hold so dear would never want us to suffer over their loss, that I know for sure, so I think they give us the gift of their presence, even just for a minute, to lessen our grief, and let us know they are near.
I’ve heard and read numerous stories about occurrences that cannot be chalked up to coincidence.
Favorite perfume in the air, music they loved on radio, seeing their name everywhere, even an athletically challenged, previously uninterested puppy playing an all-star game of fetch.
All that just to let us know that they’re fine, they are with us and for God sakes stop crying!
Addendum: That incident helped me to really feel her near me, which then in turn gave me comfort –– she didn’t feel so far away. I feel so much better AND I tossed a ball Ruby’s way this morning…it hit her in the leg and rolled unnoticed into the bushes…just sayin’