Look, I promise this is not going to degenerate into one of those “my dog died and I’m a complete mess as a result” posts—and it kind of disturbs me that it won’t.
Wait. Let’s rewind, shall we?
Specifically, let’s go back to 2007, when both of my cats died within a month of each other. The first, Boris, was unexpected, and I was so caught by surprise I had no idea how to cope. When Natasha died less than a month later, I was just, “What next? Boils? Plague of locusts?”
Because, you know, I’m not prone to overreact.
Dakota had been well into his sunset before this past summer, and by the end of July it was pretty clear that twilight was approaching. (Let’s work this metaphor to death, what do you say?) Still, when I left for Vancouver on August 1 he’d been to the vet and was pretty stable.
By August 5 he was gone.
Now, everyone who knows me is well aware that I’m pretty much crazy cat lady when it comes to pets. When I got the call that Dakota was heading for his final visit to the vet, I was over a thousand miles away, and he had seemed, not exactly fine when I left, but stable. After getting this news I was, much to my surprise, not a complete and total basket case.
So, in a way, it feels like he’s either not yet left or he’s been gone for ages.
Is this me being in Kübler-Ross’s denial stage? Or have I just skipped on to acceptance? Or is that whole five stages not all it’s cracked up to be?
Distance obviously helps. Also, it’s not like he left all at once. He’d shown signs of slowing down and getting more frail over the past two years. This wasn’t exactly unexpected.
Still, it would have been nice to be there.
But, things like death don’t happen just when it’s convenient for all parties involved. In the end, he was surrounded by people who cared for him. And that’s the best that any of us can hope for at the end, isn’t it?
The other thing about Dakota was that he never took a bad picture. And I think that’s not just me being biased; that’s an empirical, verifiable fact. Don’t believe me? Go take a look at all the pictures I took of him that are over on Flickr. Yep, he was a damn handsome dog.