I feel like I’ve had to say goodbye to too many of my favourite peeps and hounds these last couple of years and this one’s a toughie. Whether he was friend or family depends on how you view us four-legged additions to the household, but to me, he was my grandpa. Somewhere I have, or had, an actual grandfather, or grandsire as he’d be called in the dog world, but I likely never met him, don’t even recall meeting my father. Such is the way of life for dogs. We leave our birth families at a very young age and adopt a human family. They say they adopt us but we know it’s the other way around.
So my grandpa and friend, David, left us last weekend, quietly, peacefully. The struggle with disease started eight years ago but, in the end, his decline was mercifully rapid, allowing him to live right up until he died. Just a month ago, he hosted a Thanksgiving meal at his condo for the whole clan. And what a feast it was with all of the dishes of his childhood present and accounted for. As it turned out, it was somewhat of a farewell dinner. He was in hospital a week later. I didn’t get to visit him in the hospital but, from what I heard, he was still going for walks and maintaining his card-shark status during his stay.
In the years I knew him, David was never anything but kind to me. He was at our place a lot one summer and fall, helping Nollind with a bunch of building projects and, when it was tea time, he always had one hand for his cup and one for me. I’d park myself beside his favourite stool in the kitchen and he’d stroke my head for as long as I stayed or until they went back to work.
And that one year was not the only time David was at the farm lending a hand. If you took a gander around our yard you’d be hard pressed to spot a thing that he hasn’t touched in some way. From helping T and Nollind paint the inside of the house way back when they bought the place, to rewiring the old barn, to straightening the old barn, to building the carport and the hay shed and the new outhouse, to replacing the awning on Sid, to planting the first garden. The list goes on and on. If we wanted to memorialize him with a sign on something he helped build, we’d pretty much just hang it on the gate at the entrance (come to think of it he helped with that too).
Even though David wasn’t technically a dog person, as in he never had a dog of his own beyond his childhood on the farm, whenever family events were hosted at his condo, we dogs were included. On Thanksgiving this year he even bought me a nice big, beef bone. When I pulled it out of the dish to go chew in a more private location, T and Nollind jumped up in a panic, but David just smiled without concern.
Last Friday, the whole family was called to spend the day with David at his condo. He was in bed and I could feel that he was leaving us. I curled up beside him and he reached out his hand to stroke me as he always did. He went to hospice that afternoon and died the next evening so the feel of my fur was one of his final experiences in this life. I hope it was a comfort.
I don’t know where we go when we die but they say that pets cross the Rainbow Bridge. I think David would appreciate a bridge built from rainbows, and likely pitch in on any needed repairs. I hope he and Logan are over there enjoying it together.