Monday, June 18, 2012

Artis Bene Moriendi

When the body that lived at your single will
When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone - where ever it goes - for good
You still discover how much you care . . .
                                                                   ~Rudyard Kipling, The Power of the Dog

Photo by Paige.

The world has lost a little love tonight, and Katy the Bug has passed to wherever it is that good dogs go when they die.

Katy had fibrosarcoma, a slow growing cancer. It started in her leg, and metastesized to her lungs, and day by day, conquer more of her little body. It gave us plenty of time to scour our souls and ask ourselves the questions that all dog owners must face someday: what is a good death, and how do we know when its time has come?

The phrase "good death" seems oxymoronic, standing on this side of grief as I am. When is it ever a good time to say good-bye to a best friend? How do you chose the moment for a friend to die? Katy, in a last mercy, relieved us of that burden, and chose the time of her death herself.

But was it a good death?

Photo by Paige.

Katy had a long life for a dog. I remember taking her places in high school with my brand new driver's license. Her stumpy legs wouldn't let her reach the window to stick her head outside, so I would crank the air. She would sit in the co-pilot seat, face turned into the artificial wind, grinning to rival a pit bull.

I used to take her with me to my grandparents. I'd let her sleep in the bed, even though I hate sharing my bed, and Katy always smelled a little like pee. I'd wake in the night, feel the delicate weight of her against my leg or my shoulder, and return to sleep reassured. Where ever Katy was, that was home.

Katy never met a stranger, as they say. Young or old, women, men, and inbetween, we were all worthy of Katy's respect and adoration. Except for me.

Katy loved me extra.

Photo by Paige.

What was good about this death? My friend is not suffering, but neither is she here. Looking over the last few month, and further back over the years we shared, I have no regrets. We gave Katy everything we had, and I hope she got everything she could have wanted: a full belly, a roof over her head, a warm bed. A life full of joy, love, and adventure.

It seems to me, looking back, that the way to create a good death is to have lived a good life.

And Katy lived a very good life.

Photo by Paige.


  1. Beautiful tribute to a very special dog. I'm sorry for your loss! She was your dog, so she definitely had an amazing life. Losing them still sucks though. Hugs!!

  2. Ah, thank you for this. It's beautiful.

    May those warm memories of a life well lived comfort you!