I'd wanted to start this post with a photo, but my computer has been acting up ever since I updated to the latest version of Internet Explorer. I'm now getting much cozier with Firefox. Even though it is proving to be a better web browser for me, I'm still having trouble uploading jpgs. My words will just have to suffice.
A few minutes past seven Wednesday morning, I was packing up my laptop to head off to work. I had CNN on, and both dogs as usual where right at my feet, as I tried to get things together. There's something about a large dog in a small or crowded room. They're almost always underfoot. Aaron got up and lumbered into the next room, I assumed either to head outside onto the deck or to get to his dog food. A moment later I heard a thud. LJ went to see what was wrong, and returned a second later.
"We just lost Aaron."
"I said, we just lost Aaron."
He had simply fallen onto his side, and had died. Just like that, with no real warning. He'd clearly aged markedly in the past year, but no, other than his arthritic hips, we really had no clue he was about to leave us. I'd smiled at him and scratched his head just a couple of minutes earlier. The night before, he and the puppy had run out on to the deck after the cat, the puppy to chase Noah, and Aaron, ever the protector, rushing to get between the two of them. He had moved as though the arthritis wasn't bothering him much. Aaron turned 11 early last June; he was a big dog, and all too often they're not blessed with long life.
I'm not dealing real well with this loss. I've spent much of the last two days crying on and off, trying to focus on work, trying to cope. Tears have come at times without warning, which is damned disconcerting when I have patients to take care of. Arjuna, the pup, who's also Aaron's nephew & who turns a year the end of September, appears both lonely and needy. He's gluing himself to LJ, and to me. When Sarah came to clean today, he followed her from room to room the entire time she was there.
I went into town Wednesday morning to find a day worker to dig a grave, on our land not far from the house. Arjuna, who's rarely phased by anyone we bring to our home, took an instant dislike to the man. He barked at him, even growled; he kept out of his reach, and stood guard as the man did his work, watching his every move until he was finished and Aaron had been laid to rest.
Aaron was in many ways a remarkable creature. As a young beast, he realized that when we joined hands in grace before meals, it meant we were going to eat. It was common for him to nudge his way between two people sitting at the table and for him to put his paw up onto hands clasped, as we said grace in silence. As he aged, it was not rare for him to sit in front of his food bowl and not eat, until you held 'paws' with him for a moment. That done, he would eat. This wasn't something we'd trained him to do, but rather something he had decided to do on his own, much like getting between the cat and the puppy, making sure no one got hurt.
I know I should be grateful that Aaron's death was mercifully fast and that he had no time to suffer.
I know I should be grateful that I'll never be faced with the agonizing decision of putting him to sleep.
I know I should be grateful for the 11 joyful years he brightened our lives with his unconditional love.
I know I should be grateful, for this remarkable creature who gracefully shared his life with my husband and me, but somehow, I'm not feeling grateful right this moment. It just hurts too bloody much.