Survivor’s Guilt

I think I have survivor’s guilt, or some version of it. I don’t feel guilty for being alive exactly, which I know is technically what survivor’s guilt is all about. It’s not like Logan and I experienced some catastrophic event and I somehow escaped death and he didn’t. I’m just five years younger than he was and, therefore, always expected to outlive him.

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When we were both a lot younger.

And I don’t feel guilty for enjoying a walk, or a sunny day, or a sniff around the barn while T is feeding. These are all things Logan would enjoy with me if he was here, things we enjoyed together over our seven years as partners, brothers, and friends (T has this Nitty Gritty Dirt Band thing.) I actually experienced more guilt going for a walk and having to leave him behind in recent months than I do now that he’s not here to leave behind.

Where the guilt comes in is when I enjoy something I might not have had the chance to do with Logan here, I see where my life has changed for the better. It sounds even worse when I put it into words on the page. But, let me explain.

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Me as hotel dog in Red Deer for the horse sale.

Logan wasn’t a good traveller, he was noise sensitive, he didn’t like crowds, he got hot easily with his black coat, didn’t like being tied, and all these things added up to being left at home when it wasn’t a specifically dog-related activity because he was generally happier there. I, on the other hand, am a good traveller, am not bothered by most noises (except gunshots and thunder which are terrifying), love people (the more the merrier), have no issue with being attached to an immovable object by cable or leash, and stay quite comfortable on a hot day as long as I have water. But, to keep Logan company and, I think, to not create a double standard, I was most often left home with him.

I have been to Calgary, Strathmore, and other sundry locations more times in the past four weeks than probably the previous year, or even two. I know time of year has something to do with it, the weather is cool enough to leave a dog in a car, but I also know it’s because Logan is no longer here to stand at the door and watch me go somewhere while he stays behind. Funny thing about Logan was, no matter how many shaking, panting, over-heated, noisy excursions he went on, he’d still show up at the door, just in case it was something good, something dog-friendly, something fun. 10-Chico-guilt-ontheroad

Showing off my awesome travelling skills.

I love to be with my people, no matter the circumstances, and being an only dog, and a dog who is quite portable, has opened doors for me, doors that used to have Logan standing in them. Ouch, there it is again, the stab of guilt. Am I terrible?

I miss him, of course, we all do, every single day. T cries at least once a day, usually when she runs across another of his things—a toy, his desert walking boots, the blue and grey fleece jacket he wore most of last winter, his food bowl on stand that our friends gave him. And then there are the photos, oh so many of them, and he was such a photogenic guy.

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He joins us in spirit on every walk.

I’m bouncing between missing my friend and enjoying the freedom that’s come with his absence. Maybe I should talk to someone. Anyone know a good dog psychologist? Then again, if Logan was here he’d just say, “Don’t be an idiot, Red. Get out there and enjoy yourself without an anxiety-prone old cripple with a heart condition holding you back. It’s what I’d do.” And that was the truth, Logan never missed an opportunity to do what he enjoyed, even at someone else’s expense (usually T’s or Nollind’s), and never suffered guilt.

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Tagging along on a book event day in Okotoks.

So, my old and dear friend, in your honour, in your memory, I will uphold your credo, enjoy each day to the fullest, and live my best, guilt-free life.

~ ~ ~

 

On a whole other topic … Happy Fur-iday Birthday, Auntie Susan!  Celebrate by cuddling at least one dog today!10-Chico-guilt-sus

 

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Tribute to a Russian Princess

When they first adopted her, or she them, T and Nollind called her Natalya because she reminded them of a Russian princess with her big ruff of white fur. I knew her as Nat, or Natters, since that’s what she was always called. Story has it that Nat chose Nollind, as opposed to the other way around. T and Nollind were at the Street Cat Rescue (now MEOW Foundation) to adopt a cat. Nollind was kneeling to pet one of the many cats up for adoption, and Nat jumped up on his back. Sounds like something she’d do. Such a ham for attention.

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She always had a thing for Nollind.

Nat didn’t like me for the longest time. She’d hiss whenever I got too close, growl if I even looked in the direction of her food, and even swat at me sometimes. She and Logan were great friends so I knew it wasn’t just my dogness, it was something more personal.

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Buddies and pals.

I’d like to think I won her over, but I think it was more that Logan took to herding her in recent years, becoming quite territorial. Nat would try to get up on the bed where Logan was lying and he’d lunge at her, sometimes snapping. He was often reprimanded, but it didn’t stop him. If he didn’t want her somewhere, she wasn’t going. With Logan behaving less friendly toward her, I guess Nat thought it wise to befriend the other canine in the house. Me. In his defense, it’s possible Logan’s snappiness grew out of years of blocked doorways, waiting in line at the water bowl, having his food dish claimed, and otherwise being run by cats.

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The order of things in the early days.

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Thirsty dog waiting for a drink.

Nat died in March on St. Patrick’s Day, two weeks before we came home from the desert. Since Chelsey died on Remembrance Day, I guess Nat thought that a human holiday was a good day to go, more memorable. Or maybe she wasn’t Russian but Irish?

We buried her in the yard by the caragana this past Monday. She’d been in the big freezer downstairs since she died. Sounded weird to me at first, but the ground was frozen when she died, we weren’t home, and there was no food in that freezer anyway. But then it was kind of creepy when we got home, knowing she was in there, hearing the freezer’s hum and being reminded of its contents.

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Keeping his distance—not a fan of funerals.

The ground’s been thawed for weeks now, but I think T and Nollind were having some difficulty with the idea of opening the freezer and extracting a frozen cat. Couldn’t blame them really. It wasn’t so bad in the end, she was protected by a big plastic bag and looked like she was sleeping all swaddled in her towel. Her fur was cold but just as silky as ever.

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Saying goodbye.

She’s buried next to King and Chelsey, the other two cats who came from the city with T and Nollind in 2003. Poor King. Eternity between the two arch enemies. But, maybe beyond the Rainbow Bridge Nat and Chelsey are friends and walk together in harmony … ya, right.

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The resting place of Chelsey, King, and Nat.

Although now I never need to find another bed because she’s got mine, or wait to pass through a doorway because she’s sitting there, or share the attention with the softest feline you ever laid a hand (or nose) on, I’ll miss her. RIP Natalya. You will live forever in our hearts.05-chico-natalya-withchico-1