I ran the morning of his “expiration.” Same route. There was no rustling, no reason to turn, but my attention is pulled hard right to the other side of the highway. A doe, large, silent, and frozen in spot, stares. Our eyes lock. Go ahead Girl, speak to me. I’m listening.
Two hours “before”, I’m watching The Man Who Knew Infinity, an inspiring flick about Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught Indian genius who forged a bond with his math professor, G.H. Hardy, while fighting an institution that refused to acknowledge his achievements (racism, jealousy, fear). Here’s Hardy, an atheist and his mentor, in a speech to a skeptical decisioning board: “So, now we see the enormous breakthrough that he has achieved…Mr. Ramanujan told me that an equation had no meaning unless it expressed a thought of God…Well, despite everything in my being set to the contrary, perhaps he is right…So, in the end, I have been forced to consider, who are we to question Ramanujan, let alone God.” Just as Hardy finishes his impassioned plea, Zeke, prostrate on the hard wood floor, starts choking, unable to catch his breath, the tumor working its devilish deed. Why now? Why so soon? Who am I to question…?
Minutes “after“, I look in his water dish, peanut shells float in lukewarm water, undigested remains and backwash from his lock jaw. We need to remove the water dish, his food dish, his crate, his toys and everything else. Yet, while all physical remnants have been cleared, the silence from the absence of his footsteps, his swishing tail, his presence, all Thunder in this empty house.
Vizsla’s are “velcro” dogs, restless, following you everywhere, all the time. What happens when your shadow of eight years, is no longer there, no longer anywhere but in your head. You continuously look over your shoulder feeling something, yet there’s nothing there. With the velcro detached, when do You become detached, unstuck, unhinged?
There have been so many kind friends on this blog, in the neighborhood, who have shared their condolences. It’s heartwarming really, how the community rallies around you when you need them most.
I suggested to Susan that perhaps to deal with “this” hangover we needed some Hair of the Dog. “Huh?” “Yeah, let’s get a Vizsla puppy.” Not a male like Zeke, but female. Let’s call it “Zeka.” It was too fresh, and the “are you crazy” was a justified response as was the “are you are insane” reaction when I asked “why not?”
As we approach the one week anniversary, I’m awed by the love we had for Zeke and numbed by the hollowing out of our home with his absence.
But, looming is the animal vs. human comparisons of compassion levels.
A scene from the (great) movie Cavalry comes to mind. A troubled man, raped by a priest when he was seven years old, seeks retribution against the church and the clergy. Father Lavelle is accosted by the troubled man in a closing scene:
Father: The burning of the church I understand. But you didn’t have to kill my dog.
Brennan: Did it upset you? The Dog?
Father: Yes, it did
Brennan: Did you cry?
Father: I did.
Brennan: That’s nice. And when you read about what your fellow priests did to all those poor children all those years, did you cry then?
Father: (Looks blankly at him)
Brennan: I asked you a question. Did you cry then?
A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing.
~ Mary Oliver, excerpt from “Her Grave” from Dog Songs
- Photo: Zeke, March 2009 (Thank you Susan)
- Related Posts: Zeke, The Stories (Beginning to End)