Today is the 6th of September, 2012. I turned 50 today. For a birthday present the only thing I received was the death of my dog, Sunny. It was delivered FedEx. (At FedEx, we do more than shipping!)
That sounds bitter but I don’t blame the driver. Sunny was my responsibility and If it was anyone’s fault, it was mine. It’s just that I love Stephen King and that sounds like the way he’d put it. Truth is, the driver felt terrible about Sunny’s death and I feel terrible for his involuntary participation in it. I hope he isn’t suffering much. I hope he forgives me for putting him through it.
It’s only been about six hours since Sunny left me. I was cleaning the house when she left. I was vacuuming the floor in the dining room with my 6.5 peak horsepower, 16 gallon Rigid brand wet/dry vac with Scroll Noise Reduction (SNR). An odd choice for doing housework, I know. Perhaps it gives the reader the idea that my house is that messy but I assure you it’s not. I just like using it.
Sunny loved it. It was one of her three nemesis. She was just a small dog. Only about six pounds of a mix of mini-pinscher, Maltese and something else that I forget. But when the vac came out, she turned into an Irish Wolfhound. She would bark and bark and bark at it, like it was some rattlesnake. She’d dance around the nozzle at the end of the extension wand like she was defending the baby in the cradle, but never quite getting up the never to take a bite. I think most would have been impatient with her barking but I loved her displays of bravery.
Her second arch nemesis were automatic garage doors. I understood the vac thing but I still haven’t figured out the garage door. Sunny absolutely loved going after the garage door. When we went somewhere, she’d race out of the back door, down the yard, around the garage and wait intently for me to push the remote. I always knew when the door was moving. She just went nuts. Sometimes I’d hit the remote again so the door would go down. She really went nuts then. She’d break the beam on the door safety when the door was almost shut and off she’d go again. I did this for 20 minutes once and she never hinted of growing bored.
Her third nemesis, and what I think lead to her death, was the mailman. It seemed like the highlight of her day was when the mailman made his rounds. She would sit at the top of the chair by the window in the living room and track the mailman as he made his deliveries across the street. She would track him as he went down the next block and crossed over to our side. She’d be frantic when he was lost to sight. But oh! When he reappeared! And as the mailman delivered to my house, she’d cram her nose into the base of the front door and make noises like a mother bear going after a wolf threatening her young!
It was this third nemesis that had me concerned. As I was vacuuming I saw the FedEx truck come down the street. I thought Sunny might think it was the mailman. The front door was open because she liked to lay on the front porch but I thought the FedEx guy would look enough like the mailman she might actually cross the street to go see him. As fierce as she seems about mailmen, she’d never hurt a fly, but I didn’t want her temped to cross the street. Something she knows better than to do.
I went outside, but I didn’t see her. I whistled for her. Several times. I wondered if she had crossed the street and got in the FedEx truck. Sunny loved to go for rides and would hop into any car that had an open door. I whistled some more, but no Sunny. I saw the feet of the FedEx guy under his truck on the far side. I saw his feet walk to the back of his truck and then out from behind on the sidewalk. He was looking at me. I remember thinking he wants me to come get my dog out of his truck. He kept staring at me and I waited for him to say something. Finally, he looked down into the street. I looked into the street.
The world turned white. That’s the only way I can describe it. Information was coming in, but there was no ability to process. From the front porch I could see Sunny’s body lying in the street as if she had suddenly decided to take a nap. I knew what had happened. I knew Sunny had gone. But it was just information. I walked without emotion of any kind into the street and knelt at her body. What I saw I will never tell anyone as long as I live. I don’t want anyone to think of her as any way other than when she was alive.
As I knelt there, the driver was so distraught. He said this is the thing he feared the most on his rounds. I tried to spare some attention for him. I told him, Sir, this is not your fault and you’re not to blame, but I doubt it helped him much. I’m so sorry for that. Through no fault of his own he suffered this grief.
I picked up my beloved dog and carried her to the back yard in a white world. I laid her down on the sidewalk and went into the house to get a pillow case for her body. I kept thinking, it’s my birthday and today my dog died. A little bit of color started intruding into the white and with it the pain. Oh God! The pain!
It took a long time to dig the grave. I had to go in the house to cry and blow my nose so often. I finally got it done, though. She’s buried with her favorite toys and one each of her favorite snacks. I know that’s more for me than her. She doesn’t need such things anymore, but it makes me feel better. Already I keep hearing sounds in the house that makes me think she’s still here. If it’s like this now, so soon after her leaving me, what will it be like tomorrow?
So many people demand proof that God exists. I think the proof is as simple as a dog. How simple and pure a dog’s love for it’s human! It cares nothing for how beautiful or ugly you are. How rich or poor. How popular or rejected. Is there any animal on earth that responds to love as well as a dog?
So, in honor of my dog, I’d like to tell you about her. I suppose if you’re still here you won’t mind too much.
She was small and white. Short hair and long, with nothing in between. Some said she looked like a rat with hair, but not to me. I thought she was beautiful. Through the hair you could see patches of a pale tan.
She had this habit of crouching down on her front paws while leaving her behind in the air. I think that this was somehow comfortable for her.
She peed and pooped in the basement, which is unimproved. I guess I didn’t mind. I would just clean it up. It wasn’t as if I did anything down there other than laundry.
Every morning I have a breakfast of sausage links, eggs and hash browns. She’d press on my leg to remind me she was there as I ate. I’d cut off a small bit of sausage and give her some. I always left some sausage and egg over easy on my plate and put it on the floor for her.
She always slept with me in my bed. She would start off on the down comforter but always ended up with her back pressed up against mine.
When I watched TV or played Xbox she’d lie in my lap.
She couldn’t seem to let me pet her or massage her neck unless she would be allowed to lick one of my hands.
Whenever I took her to my brother’s house she loved to lie in his lap.
She loved to hump my brother’s wife’s slippers.
Her favorite toy was an empty 20 oz. plastic coke bottle. It was so skittery.
When I finished taking a shower and stepped out , she would lick the water off my legs.
I think her favorite thing in life was taking a ride. I often wished I could take her on my motorcycle.
She liked to chase planes. I was thinking of taking her out to the airport.
I never got any sleep when there was thunder and lightning about.
I could never tell if she hated baths or liked them. She kept trying to crawl out of the sink, yet her tail kept it’s natural, happy position. Not the tucked between the legs thing.
I had to be careful where I left paper of any kind. She loved to shred it.
I’m sure there’s more but that’s all I can think of for now. Sunny was my beloved dog and I miss her already. Everything is still mostly white, but when it isn’t I’m in tears. I’ve heard that animals don’t go to heaven, presumably because they don’t have souls, but I’ve never seen evidence of that in the bible. I hope God loved my dog, too. I hope I will see her again in heaven. The Bible says there will be a new heaven and earth when all this passes away. I’d hate to think God has no room in it for dogs.
Today is my birthday. I’m 50 years old now. For the first time in my life, I know what I want for my birthday.