Monday, December 30, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

A few weeks ago at Marnie's physical therapy appointment, her surgeon made an off-handed comment about her next surgery, and I felt like someone had hit me in the belly with a two-by-four. My home was in the middle of full crate and rotate lock down, I missed my dogs, I was trying to figure out how to fit another hour and a half of PT into our schedules, and the reminder that we are going to do this all over again in a few months just about floored me. In addition to acknowledging that Marnie and I aren't even half way to the end, I've also be coming to terms with the idea that instead of the three to four foster dogs I usually have in a year, I will have Marnie. And then more Marnie. And then Marnie for a while longer. And it's not that I don't like her, or I'm not committed to seeing her story through, or I'm unhappy that we chose her life. I'm just . . . having trouble maintaining my spiritual equilibrium.

So I volunteered for a compassion case.

Compassion cases are animals that you take into your home knowing they are unadoptable. Maybe they are too old, or too sick, or have severe behavior problems. Maybe all three. You take them in, and you spoil the hell out of them, and then you hold them when they die. You are their last refuge. It is a hard and healing experience - for me, at least. These dogs are good for my soul. It's something I can bring out and show to myself when I'm having trouble remembering what kind of person I am. It's an experience I can point and say, "Do you see that, self? You made a difference to that one dog. You put kindness in the world that was not there before. And that kindness is a part of you now."


I'm calling her Chessa - because 32D is a bra size, not a name. Chessa means "peace." She is very old and very sick and very Real. She loves cheeseburgers and walks and car rides and butt scritches. She likes chasing cats and chewing on raw hides until her gums bleed. She is tired. She deserves peace in her final days.

It's easy to look at Chessa and get angry. How could people do this to her? What a cruel world! What a miserable, throw-away culture! But what if someone loved Chessa? What if, once upon a time, she was a little girl's best friend? What if she was stolen out of her people's car? Or slipped out the door and couldn't be found for months? Or they fell on hard times and had to give her up, and then lost track of her? What if she was someone's cherished companion?

What if she were my dog?

Then I would hope that there was someone to stand up for her. Someone to pull her out of animal control, give her a name, and provide her comfort as her days grow short and her nights grow long and cold. Someone to feed my dog cheeseburgers and kindness, no matter that her hair has been loved off, and she is loose in the joints and a little shabby. Every life deserves a little dignity, no matter how poor or weather-beaten the shell that carries it. And when the time comes, I hope there is someone to hold her gently as she makes her final journey - even if that person can't be me.

We must be the change we wish to see in the world.


So Chessa and I will go on car rides together. She will eat tastey food that is bad for her. She will have all the snuggles and butt scritches and soul rubs I have. And when the time comes, mine will be the last voice she hears. Telling her that she is a Good Dog. That she has Done Well. That she is brave and strong and beautiful. Worthy of love. And in the end, there will be peace for Chessa.

And peace for me.



Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On Old long syne?
 
        ~ Auld Lang Syne (poem), Robert Burns

21 comments:

  1. I love this. Too many old dogs get forgotten. You, and ARLP, are awesome for taking her in.

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  2. Easily one of my favorite posts of you. It lifted my spirits and gave me hope that maybe just maybe there is more good than bad in this world. Bless her soul along with yours!

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  3. Thank you for this, and all the love you put out into the world.

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  4. How beautiful and inspiring. I will be the change I expect in the world. Thank you.

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  5. Thank you for doing what you do!! May you all be blessed in 2014!! AND Marnie wouldn't be where she is right now either, if you wouldn't have done what you did!! Huggles!!!

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  6. thank you from the bottom of my heart...

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  7. God bless you for taking her in and making her final days filled with love.

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  8. Thank you for taking care of her....

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  9. Thank you for putting into words, what I have felt in my heart. BRAVO to you and Chessa!

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  10. Cried when I read this - still crying... God bless you and RIP sweet Chessa <3

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  11. thank you. I have pulled to allow death with love and home and Hope...my last one was Hope. thank you for Chessa's loving end. That is all she remembers.

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  12. God bless you for having such a beautiful spirit and for loving this sweet gal till the end. thank you for not being afraid to love and say good bye. ImI'm so glad she had such a loving persons arms to die in. I wish this for all.

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  13. Run free, Chessa. I see the light and love in your beautiful eyes. Thank you, Rubi.

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  14. thank you, from the sick old dog we lost, and the two sick old ones here with us now....thank you, from the bottom of all of our hearts THANK YOU

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  15. I cried as well. You are a truly kind person!!! I admire your actions and sentiments greatly and hope you keep up the good work.

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  16. touching and beautiful. thanks for the wonderful prose. we should all experience a compassion animal relationship- I will, once our girl Nikita crosses the rainbow bridge. for now, she is the spoiled 11 year old who rides in the car, gets an occasional cheeseburger, and is cheered on as she marks her spot on walks. two knee surgeries mean gentle walks with an occasional puppy like sprint. puts big grins on our faces!

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  17. god bless you for everything you do I can only hope that there are a lot more people in this world such as yourself to do such a wonderful thing for an animal

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  18. Just when my heart is weary and I have given up on mankind, I read this blog. My faith is renewed. What a beautiful story about a beautiful dog. Thank u.

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  19. I can barely read this through all my tears. I saw on FB that this darling, goofy faced Chessa (that looks like my own Zephyr--those ears) had passed.
    And you write this:
    "It is a hard and healing experience - for me, at least. These dogs are good for my soul. It's something I can bring out and show to myself when I'm having trouble remembering what kind of person I am. It's an experience I can point and say, "Do you see that, self? You made a difference to that one dog. You put kindness in the world that was not there before. And that kindness is a part of you now."
    and I well up in tears again, have to take my glasses off & squint at the screen. As a woman who tends to be SUCH A BITCH in the world of people, who baffle me, I turn to animals. I rescue dogs, and cats and whatever wonders into my path. It's a hard, hard choice to take in a dying soul. I want to point out one more time, least you forget, how very kind you were and Chessa received it.

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  20. We did this for our Sterling. He was an old Boston, blind, deaf, infirm. We adopted him and gave him the best life we could. He slept in bed with us, went on camping trips with us, ate good food and was loved and spoiled just as much as our young pugs. He was doing so well, we thought we would have him for years to come. But last October he had a stroke or a tumor or something else but he was in distress and was not going to get better. We stayed home from work, we fed him by hand, we spooned water for him, we carried him outside and held him as he relieved himself, we nursed him round the clock. In the end, we had to let him go, we held him, and kissed him and cooed to him and cried. We loved him so much and miss him terribly.

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  21. Crying............

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