Thursday, August 04, 2011
Our home is a little quieter now. No more long nails clicking on the hardwood floor. No more thumps of Lucky falling down the stairs. No more panting to take in air. There is a void of familiar sounds. It is the quiet of loss.
On this sunny past Tuesday, August 2 our vet came to the house and helped Lucky into a peaceful sedation and then death. Leah, her boyfriend Scott, and I were present. I brought out his blanket we used to keep in the van for rides. (When Lucky would escape the house without a leash I would have to jump in the car and drive around the corner to him. He always fell for the “go for a ride” trick.) We sat in the shaded grass near the hydrangea in the backyard that was his domain.
After he was gone, we spent a few minutes sitting with him, saying goodbye and taking some paw prints and even a nose print. Lucky never liked having his paws touched – I think someone clipped his nails wrong when he was a pup – so I couldn’t do this activity earlier. Then we sat with Dave and cried.
For all the doubts I harbored about when to take this step I was surprised to feel the relief and self vindication I found on Wednesday. Lucky was having a more difficult time than I cared to admit. As his caregiver I was too close to see the labors of his daily life. I could only see he wanted to be near. As we watched some video taken in April in which Lucky made cameo appearances, his decline in recent weeks became far more obvious. I have no regrets. The time was right.
I also didn’t realize the stress I carried caring for Lucky. So for this change I am glad. But throughout the day I found myself listening for him, expecting him, waiting for him to appear. With every “mmrow” or pacing through the room, I construed the cats as pining for Lucky. Sniff in particular would follow Lucky around and rub under his chin. Trouble would engage him in “catch me on the kitchen counter” baiting him into herding him back to the floor. Lucky was the watcher of dinner leftovers, in the hopes of a few bites as reward.
There will of course be a space in my heart reserved just for him. 15 years together is almost as long as it takes to raise a child. 15 years is well over half of Leah’s lifetime. Lucky was a loyal and happy dog. I always called him puppy because of his playful nature. I loved Christmas morning when he would get his new toy. He seemed to know which package was his. Anytime we had company, Lucky inserted himself into playing catch with his toy, dropping the saliva-soaked, overly-loved critter onto an unsuspecting lap. With a gingerly pinch of the fingers one would be forced to toss it just to get the icky thing off, only to have Lucky bring it back again!
I haven’t talked much about our cats, because the care and feeding of Lucky has taken a lot of attention lately. They, too, are an important make up of our household. In grief, the attention goes to angst. But there are the hours too dedicated to memories and play, and we shall not forget Lucky. It was lucky for him to have found a home from the shelter; it was lucky for us to be the ones to bring him in.
Rest in peace, dear Lucky. We shall miss your playful and loyal heart.