Today my heart is broken. This morning we had to say goodbye to the best dog ever. It was 17 years ago this month that he and his sister ran out in front of my car on Gaston Avenue. They were only 12 weeks old and totally adorable, but none of the local no-kill shelters would take them because Norton looked like a bit like a Chow and had a dark tongue. We found out years later, he had no Chow in him – he was a mix of Belgian Malinois, Collie, and mutt. What was I to do? I brought them home and we ended up keeping them. Rich named them Trixie and Norton after the couple on The Honeymooners.
Bandit, our first dog, whom we lost a decade ago, taught them everything they needed to know about patrolling the yard, chasing squirrels, going to the park, and just generally being dogs.
We had lots of adventures over the years – trips to Lake Cypress Springs and Lake Bonham, to Ellis County to see the Bluebonnets, to Arbor Hills, White Rock Lake, and various trails around town – just the four of us. Whenever I’d go to a conference, I always brought home goodie bags full of treats and toys. We always referred to them endearingly as “the puppies” until the last year, when they finally became “the old dogs”.
But Norton aged more quickly than Trixie. In the end, he could walk, but only sideways and he fell a lot. We added padded rubber mats to the office floor to help him keep his balance and did away with the raised beds when he could no longer climb up on them. We raised his food and water bowl and that helped for a bit. But he was easily confused and he could only turn to the right. He’d get upset and angst and spin in circles in the living room. Or we’d find him (after a brief panic thinking he was lost) stuck between the washer and dryer or under the bar – places he’d gotten into and couldn’t get out of, and just fell asleep. He couldn’t hear or see well at all and combined with the confusion, he was having a very difficult time. We started to find him standing against a wall with his head in a corner; exhausted and confused. He simply wasn’t smiling anymore.
He did what we asked. Always. He sister didn’t, though, and he was always worried she was getting them into trouble. She was the leader and he followed her everywhere. She was the first in line crossing Gaston that day 17 years ago, with him behind her. Worried. Trixie and Norton always stuck together. They enjoyed the dog parks but kept to themselves. I don’t know what she’ll do now.
He had a good life. A very good life. We took our last walk together, the four of us, this morning, and “the old dogs” got weiners for breakfast.
Now all we have left of him is his collar, and our memories – both of which we will cherish until the day we die. Why can’t they live forever?
A friend sent me this today.
Today I made a painful choice
For my little friend without a voice
I held you close against my chest
I saw you relax for your final rest
You looked at me with tired eyes
I felt you breathe just one last sigh
No more pain in the moment of release
Just gentle sighs and lasting peace
It was the hardest thing to let you go
I only did it because I love you so.
Rest in peace Old Man. Rest in peace.