Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is never easy, but in the case of my friend Joan’s pug, Egg, it may be next to impossible. Egg is 13 years old. He has lost the use of his legs and each day seems to grow weaker. We have been preparing for his death, beginning some of the rituals that make it easier for us to deal with his passing. This weekend we wrapped him in the afghan Joan’s dog sitter, Norma, made for him and took him out to sit among the daisies. We photographed him there. Before she returned home, Norma held and rocked him and as I left for the evening, she whispered to me, “This one’s going to be a hard one for Joan. Be there for her.”
She’s right. Joan has a house full of pugs and loves them all, but Egg has been her car dog, her traveling companion, her special pet, the one that made his way through the pack to stand at the head of the crowd. In his youth, he was an athlete, jumping fences, chasing the girl dogs until Joan was forced to neuter him, but over the last few years, age got the better of him and his legs began to give way. He weakened quickly, too quickly for Joan to buy a doggie cart, and she had little success trying my pug, Vader’s. As his legs ceased to hold him up and his head began to tilt at a peculiar angle, we saw the beginning of the end.
The phone call came tonight while I was out running errands. Joan’s message was Egg had died. Fortunately, for me, I missed the message and when I called Joan tonight and questioned as usual, “How are you,” she answered, “You heard didn’t you?”
“Heard what?” I asked.
“About Egg,” she said. I knew instantly that he had passed. I began to offer my condolences, “I’m sorry, Joan,” I mustered, but was quickly interrupted. “But, Kim, wait,” she said. “He isn’t dead. I thought he was. He’d shut his eyes, wasn’t moving, made three big gasps. I’d heard that sound before, but it wasn’t the death rattle,” she murmured. “I started making preparations, getting a plastic bag to put him in, I turned around and his eyes were upon me – wide open. He’s sitting in my arms eating chicken now.”
I thought about Joan’s necessary ritual of wrapping the corpses of her deceased pets and placing them in the freezer until they could be delivered to the vet and I was happy she hadn’t gotten this far. To me there has always been something spiritual about Joan’s home and the dogs that live there, but Egg’s resurrection has taken things to a brand new level. For now, at least he has risen and as every human knows, each moment we spend with our pets is a miracle.