There are many different kinds of love. There is love between humans, love between animals, love between humans and animals. And then there is the love between a woman and her dog. It's a place where innocence and trust collide, joy and sorrow meet, life and death breathe. This is the love that is hardest to grieve, hardest to let go, hardest to say goodbye to. Such was the love I had for my Freckles. This is her story.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009. Ordinary in every way, at least the ways that matter. But it was the last day of life for Freckles, my poodle, and it was something I did not know. At least I think I didn't; I don't know. Denial can be so strong when one is faced with loss. It's a funny thing – it promises today will be no different than yesterday. And because you love, you listen.
Freckles' appetite had waned. She'd even been turning her nose up at the canned food I'd give her as a special treat, something she used to love so much. I made her grilled chicken with rice and broth. She'd eat the chicken and leave the rest, sniffing at it, then walking away. I made her pancakes, a favorite. They sat in her dish untouched. She wasn't keeping much down. And she slept and slept, not particularly unusual for a dog of 15. Most days she just wanted to snuggle and sleep. And I had convinced myself that her loss of appetite had more to do with less physical activity than an actual medical problem. She still enjoyed short walks and was occasionally able to jump up on the sofa despite her arthritic joints. So that morning, before I left for a few hours, I gingerly lifted her up on my king-size bed, high off the ground and completely inaccessible to her, her favorite place to sleep. I wrapped her up in her favorite brown blanket, a soft mix of fleece and fuzz, arranged her stuffed animals, and kissed her goodbye. She fell asleep quickly. I left the house, Freckles safe in bed. I would be home soon, and all would be well.