Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Hello Goodbye, pt. 2

Part Two: Goodbye

It was Aqualad who pointed out the noise.

“Don’t you hear it?” he said. “It’s a squeak or something. Every half-minute. Is it Ezri?”

Ezri is the old toy poodle belonging to Kate, my housemate. I finally tune in to the noise. Like a distant intermittent squawk. I never would have noticed it if not for Aqualad. “No. She’s never made a noise like that.”

The boys are packing up for the night. Aqualad knows that stairs are not my best thing and offers to investigate. Later he returns. “Yeah, it’s Ezri. I don’t know what’s wrong with her.”

We do our goodbyes and I climb the stairs to find the old dog lying in an awkward position on the bedroom carpet. She issues a brief weak squawk. I help her to adjust herself but she lies limp. I pull the bowl to her and bring the water surface right to her nose. She sniffs and is not interested.

I pick her up and carry her downstairs. I recline on the couch, her in my arms. The pitiful intermittent noise continues, not often, but regular. Is she in pain? I start to believe so.

Messages to Kate and to her partner go unanswered. What I don’t know is that they are in a movie theatre; the late show.

Ezri’s yelps vary in frequency as I adjust her, trying different positions.

Do I take her to the emergency vet again? As I did so recently and to no benefit but for a costly bill? Legally I have no right to subject another person’s animal property to medical treatment. Not that that’s an issue. I would claim to have such consent and the vet would comply.

I try occasionally to offer water, bringing it to her face. Once she samples it.

I do not know this dog anymore. She stays upstairs all the time. I do not know what her current normal is; what to judge this behavior against. I know not if this dog is going through a bad health period or if this is a dog approaching her end of days. It looks like the latter from my outsider’s view, but how can I know? What does Kate see? Is she reading temporary into something that is not? Is this dog being cruelly kept alive out of love? Or should I say, attachment?

Blessedly the dog falls asleep. Her breaths lengthen. The whimpers cease. I am so grateful for her respite from distress. It abides my indecision.

We are at peace. I’m comfortable holding her until the girls arrive home. We have been two hours on the couch. Ezri awakens and I share my concerns. From Kate’s point of view the decline has been swift. It’s been hard for her to decipher if this all has been a health anomaly or a final migration. She reveals that there has been a seizure. She is very sad, and grateful for what comfort I could give.

The next afternoon there is a knock at my door. “It’s time,” says Kate’s partner. “We’re going to the vet…” and saying goodbye, I interpret.

“Let me drive you,” I say.

A catalog is proffered and fawned over with a calculated attempt at tact. Kate views the costly trophies with discomfort. “You have collars at home; toys, photographs; right?”


“So you have mementos. You don’t need to buy artificial ones to prove you loved her. You don’t need to prove anything.”

On the steel table Ezri lies inert but eyes wide open. I stroke her softly. This last year she has been such a quiet dog. No barking. Nothing stimulates a deaf dog.

“You’ve been an excellent housemate,” I whisper. I kiss her firmly on the muzzle. Kate is weeping. I depart the exam room and leave this little family some privacy.

Death has come within my reach yet again and for once – for once – I have handled it competently.  

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