Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Dec. 04, 2014 - 6:59 p.m.

The Wonder Years

are over.

Casey the WonderCorgi is no more.

NewWifey(tm) e-mailed me this morning that he couldn't get out of his pen, that he couldn't lift himself up. She drove him right to the vet, but for him it turned out to be a 1-way trip.

That final act of kindness doesn't seem a kindness right now. We killed our dog. We ended the life of the only thing that ever gave either of us totally unqualified love. Fuck anthropomorphism. It was love.

I've actually been dreading this day since NewWifey(tm) brought him home 13 and a half years ago. We'd only been married a few weeks when one day she hopped out of her car, said "Guess what I bought on my way home?" and pulled two furry tennis balls out of her jacket pocket. One was Casey, the other Gloria - the kitten the pet shop threw in for free because they had too many kittens. They were the same shape, color and size. The only difference was Gloria had a tail.

A year before our first date I had to put my first corgi, Buster, to sleep. I vowed I'd never get another dog that day. I told NewWifey(tm) all about what a hilarious little clown Buster was and how much I loved corgis, but I neglected to mention that last part to her. So she thought I'd be thrilled to have another one to love.

I was. But every day since I've dreaded knowing that today would come and I'd be rent to shreds once again. And so I am.

NewWifey(tm) is stronger than me. She always is. I was at work, so when she woke up and the dog couldn't lift himself to get out of his crate she picked him up and carried him to his ramp. He managed to pull himself down, dragging his now useless back legs behind him, and pee. But then all he could do was lie there and gasp.

I would have just laid down next to him in the pee and poop and cry for him to get better. I'm helpless when it comes to real tragedy. NewWifey(tm) cried when she saw him stagger and fall, but she pulled herself together and carried him inside where she called the vet. The vet shook her head when she saw him, and that was that. In an incredible act of empathy the vet clipped Casey's nails, which had grown as long and claw-like as an Indian mystic's - something we'd never been able to do for fear of losing a hand - and sedated him so NewWifey(tm) could brush him out without him cringing in pain. They lowered the harsh exam lights and opened the window so both could look out on the green Sussex county hills together one last time...and then he was gone.

NewWifey(tm) carried his little body home and dug a grave, then buried him wrapped in my old Bultaco sweatshirt that he used to sleep on, along with his green squeaky toy and the personalized Christmas stocking she made for him years ago and always hung on the mantle.

For the last two years his arthritis didn't let him sit by me in the yard when I rocked in my hammock by the tree line. Instead he would lay out on the elevated deck above me, keeping an eye that no squirrel or neighborhood cat strayed too close. He wouldn't move til I came in. NewWifey(tm) buried him there, next to the hammock, so he could always keep watch.

Again, NewWifey(tm) is very much stronger than me. She did all that - and shoveling a grave in rocky, near frozen North Jersey soil is no easy feat - by herself, while grieving as much as I was, in the span of 4 hours all by herself. If our roles had been reversed I would have sat in a catatonic state, useless, until the dog died in the yard and she came home to help me.

The only thing I could do was what I always do when there is a crisis. Or for that matter, a celebration. Or a Saturday. I brought home a bottle of wine and some goat cheese, and we got drunk. Or we tried to get drunk. I have now had a full bottle of Hawk Crest cab and two 7-and-7's, and I'm typing like I've just celebrated my fifth year of AA sobriety. Abject desolation must negate the effects of alcohol. NewWifey(tm) is the same way. She's out in the Fucking Recliner sobbing uncontrollably into the cat.

I wish I'd been there at the end. I was at work when Buster died, and I've rued that I couldn't say goodbye ever since. Now I'm anguished it happened again with Casey. As much as I don't want to witness the final breath of a loved one, I at least owe it to them after all they've done for me. But I couldn't do it. Again.

It's terrible, really terrible, and almost incomprehensible to me that the loss of something that's not even human affects me more than a human death. I cried more when Buster died than when my mom died a month later. If given the choice I'd bring Casey back over Robin Williams. Or Mother Teresa. Or mother. How is that? How is it that these animals can weave themselves so tightly into the fabric of another species' soul? I mean, you don't see an ant falling all to pieces when the aphid he's been tending all his life gets dragged down and dismembered by an invading colony. Do you? Why us?


I know all the platitudes. "You gave him a great life." "You have wonderful memories to carry you through." "You did the right thing at the end." (That last one I've said myself to others, but hurts the most when I hear it now directed at me.) Etc. None of them provide succor. I want my dog back, and anything less is shit.

You know, maybe the alcohol is having an effect. I thought it would numb me, but it seems to be making me instead both maudlin and angry. I'm sorry. I should sign off here, and resist the temptation to regale you with anecdotes of Casey vs. the Bears and Casey vs. the Dyson and Casey vs. the Evil Dust Bunny and Casey vs. the Even More Evil FedEx Truck (I blogged about that years ago, and included a rockin' pic of Casey with the lime green cast the vet practically glued on because he wriggled out of his standard beige one).

So...I'm signing off. I'll just leave you with an apt quote, from Agnes Sligh Turnbull: "Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really."

It really is.





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