A Winter Passing

I have been taking an informal break from blogging and answering questions recently.

In the last month, I learned that one of my dogs had died. The news hit me heavier than I would care to admit. I know I have mentioned my dog and shared photos of Bandit before (x). I took this particular photograph before setting out on the cold, bright morning of our last walk together:

IMG_20140211_223613

I have thought deeply about our last walk, tried to recall what thoughts burdened my mind that day or what birds we saw in passing, but I can’t seem to remember anymore.

During his final years, Bandit contracted pneumonia. He never fully recovered and stayed on regular medication during winter months. He also seemed to have arthritis though it was never formally diagnosed by a veterinarian. We watched him age in ways of peace. We watched him stop chasing cars and youth. Australian Shepherds, a bloodline of herders, the working cattle dog and time-honored instinct to nip ankles, a dog who could have defeated Achilles. We watched him shepherd closer to home as a porch dog in the autumn of life. My father told me Bandit died in his sleep on a Friday.

The sadness of Bandit’s death has hit me in different degrees. He was always a vocal dog. Bandit would howl at the sirens of ambulances veering down a distant road. He would say his version of I love you and pull back his teeth to smile, writhing all over, exposing both gum and chipped tooth, upon our arrival home. Bandit looked terrifying when he did this, and his mimicry made us  laugh more than anything else. For the first few nights after his death, I listened to the sirens in Clarksville and remembered his shameless howl. Even now, alone in my apartment, I struggle to write about Bandit, his adventures, and the all too familiar sentiment that it is hard to lose a friend.

I’ll close this entry, my study of grief, with what I think is whispered too often or sometimes not enough. A familiar phrase said across the living room couch during the night with my hand buried in the dark fur of his back: Lie down, lie down.

9 comments

  1. D. Eaton · February 23, 2014

    Sorry for your loss, Sarah.

  2. jr cline · February 23, 2014

    I’m sorry about the loss of your companion. I’ve lost some dearly loved dogs. hugs

  3. Catholic Tap House · February 23, 2014

    Powerful post… eventually we must all “lie down”.

  4. thecuriousbum · February 23, 2014

    My older cat died about a year and a half ago at 17. Especially for people our age, it’s like losing a part of our childhood. Hope things’re going well for you otherwise.

  5. doesitevenmatter3 · February 23, 2014

    I’m so sorry to hear about the death of your furry friend. :-(
    I’ve lost some of my beloved furry friends.
    And I can’t imagine my life without my current furry friend, Cooper. He is my daily joy!
    You shared so beautifully about Bandit. May he rest in peace.
    (((HUGS)))

  6. Corvin · February 25, 2014

    Very sorry for your loss, dear.

  7. dzawacki · April 15, 2014

    In the past two years, both of my dogs had to be put to sleep. It’s a hard thing to go through. They’re family. They’re friends. They’re certainly more to you than you could ever explain to anyone.

    I hope you’re working through the loss. It takes time.

    If you don’t mind the links, my tributes to my Rosi and Mabel can be found here (edit these out if you wish): http://sassyhacksaws.com/2012/02/15/rosi/

    http://sassyhacksaws.com/2014/04/14/mabel/

    Best wishes,
    Danny

    • Sarah Key · April 18, 2014

      Your comment here could not be more appropriately timed. Thank you for stopping by and sharing these entries with me. I really needed that.

  8. lilolimon · June 17, 2014

    When we love dogs as if they were part of our family it’s the hardest thing in the world to let them go.
    Suddenly they are not there and the sadness can linger for months or years.
    I have lost many dogs along the way and it never gets easy.
    I try to think I will see them someday again (cause I’m definitely going to the dog’s heaven when I die :) and that thought cheers me up a bit :)

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