Dear Dog Diary:
There’s a hole in my chest where my heart used to be. Dogs and cat and I are sitting Shiva for our basset brother, Elvis. We’re tangled up in bed, trying desperately to breathe. We grieve.
It’s hard to talk about, but I need to. I’m heartbroken, but I’m gonna try. I can’t believe it really happened, but he is gone. I hurt so much I can’t speak, only write.
Logically, I knew it was inevitable. Elvis was nearing 14. But that’s where my heart and my head disagree. My heart wouldn’t let go.
It was sudden, it came out of nowhere and it was unstoppable. I had just come home from the airport. Two hours later, Elvis left the building. For good.
Maybe I made it up and it didn’t really happen. Everything is normal. But then there’s this hole in my floor where his bed used to be. Where his solid basset bod held down hardwoods, joists and beams. With his cheerful (wait - huh? Bassets and cheer? Maybe not. Maybe silly cartoon character mannerisms, saggy bloodshot eyes and inside-joy face?)
He wasn’t joyful, he was soulful. He had a deep basset sense of humor. He was a standup guy in life and on a surfboard. He was a force of nature. I loved him with all my heart and I know he felt the same. I miss him. And his folds and flaps of loose-fitting skin. And the funny, swaying way he walked.
Now – silence. No basset tap dancing on hardwood floors. No deep baritone lapping of water from the bowl.
He was gravity, on the surfboard and everywhere else. He grounded us. He was our rudder. Our moral compass. Our dog patriarch. The basset hound stood tall on 2 inch legs, surfed low and slow, windsurfed and SUPped (stand up paddle boarded) the west, though he was so not a water dog. He was an accidental alpha.
He rode life’s ups and downs with presence and dignity, from the moment I adopted him from Arizona basset hound rescue. Next stop - camping at Picacho State Park on the Colorado River with the waterski club. Elvis surfed a lounge chair that weekend, in 2004.
He later shredded waves and wind and water. He was a surf basset. Is that even possible? Who knew?! And he rode life’s ups and downs - back problems, salmon poisoning, failing hind legs, snowy winters and surgery.
Elvis lived with his whole heart, every moment. He was wise and stable. A thoughtful old soul – everything I wish I could be.
- Dog mom Barb
= Please pause – for a moment of silence – dedicated to every loving dog who ever rescued a person in the world… =
You opened my heart - I will always be thankful for that. You were a Seeing Eye dog for your blind brother, Dude. And a seeing eye dog for me, in your own way. I’m trying to see, Elvis. I’m trying to let go, but I’m not made of gravity, like you.
As painful as that last night was, I am honored that you waited for me and let me be there. I never could have, if you hadn’t shown me how. I’m still learning, Elvis. To listen to my heart, not head. To be strong and present. To be there for others. To be gravity. Basset-like. To want to stay through the hardest part of life and be there for you in the end. However heart breaking that moment could be.
Elvis, you are not alone. You will always be here, patching the hole in my heart…
You forever changed us. Changed me. Thank you. I will miss you so much, and so will the kids and the dogs and the fleas and the floor.
Even your cat, Elvis. She’s facing me on the bed, which says a lot - no backside view of catty indifference. She is gravity.
I’m seeing your rainbows. Go find friends and relatives on the other side and rescue another person. Let life begin again. Joyously! We’ll paddle out for you, just below.
Love you forever,