so too will our girl. her hips cannot support her anymore. black coal eyes now stay wet with pain and awareness of the failure of her body. and yet she's still in it. she offers a wag and a little muffled woof so we aren't so alarmed. we know we have to put her down. have we rubbed and loved and given all we can? enough to let go? we did the acupuncture. the rimadyl. the petitions to St. Francis. little rubbery boots for traction.
colasped in the backyard this morning she laid among leaves of golden and red, and that beauty seemed to be a consolation prize for the sorrows of decay.
we got our pup when we had been dating only a few months and we have never known our life as a couple without her. she was the fiesty one of the litter; not the smallest or the largest. but the most engaged and active. she was pale yellow like a baby duckling and cried only the first night away from her mother.
she chewed a hose, a coach wallet, and ate an entire lawn chair. she ate the net that V drove golfballs into. what an explosive moment it was to come home and find that V had the pup wrapped in the destroyed net like a trapped rare animal. to teach her a lesson. and me, busting into the house, sword drawn, demanding an explanation: "why is the baby in a net?!?"
we broke her of digging by filling one of her holes with water and holding her head underwater until she was damn near drowned. after, she went to the far corner of the yard and faced away from us. and we went to our bed and cried like babies. she never dug again.
Eva loved baseball. our game, known as "hits and runs" worked like this: the playing field was the driveway and backyard. my job was to bat a tennis ball, make it bounce on the driveway and get it past her and into the grassy part of the yard. If she stopped the ball from reaching a certain spot in the yard, then that was a run for her. If i was able to get the ball past her it was a hit. If the ball didnt bounce on the driveway it was also run for her. She was a brilliant player and i worked hard to get those hits past her. you could never throw a ball and expect her to retrieve it. you always had to bat. two, three, four times a day, this game was played to exhaustion. as she rested and panted that tail circled endlessly in joyful triumph. and i think of that wide dog smile now and will take it with me until the last of my breath.
she would retrieve sticks from the creek all day long if you were willing. all the moments i cherish are flooding back to me as i write. there was the time when she was still a puppy and we camped at cooper's creek. V came up out of the creek with vines draped all over him and making the sound of a monster. eva ran to the truck and hid. later she would become an adventure loving animal; not so easily frightened though she would never be a tough dog. she would push through briars and hedges and have stickers in her fur at the end of the day.
there was the time she cut up her paw on an oyster bed in sarasota. the time the kong toy somehow got wedged in her mouth, propping it open so much that we almost couldn't get it out. her boyfriend Barney the wandering tramp of a golden retriever. jumping up on the tub and biting the bubbles from my bath. nosing around under the Christmas tree smelling her gifts. neighborhood children coming to the front door and asking if eva could come out and play. working as a team to drive bird killing kitties out of the yard.
learning how to open the back door by pulling a rag with her teeth. we showed her how to do it just twice, and she took to it readily. eva going out into the cold to get the paper as V and i watched from our warm home, coffee in hand. There was the time the cop drew his gun on her as she stalked down the driveway at him with her fur standing up on her back four inches high, all show and no bad intention. her speak and shake routine to amuse dinner guests. the lipoma the size of a turkey breast we had surgically removed. the first seizure. the first hip collapse. the beginning of the sorrows. just like that first cool morning - the glimpse of the fall and then, finally, the full force of winter.
now i will call the vet and arrange a house call. for this week? tomorrow? next week? it will be a civilized demise. none of the old school "florida way" where the dying dogs were taken out and shot in the back of the head. efficient and brutal and honest too. but that way isnt for us. she is too gentle, too soft, too yellow, too good, too smart, too important, too eva.
i can't pick her up anymore. i can't stop loving her either. we dont know what to do. we do know what to do. its confusing. shes better now, no wait she's fading again. the leaves are swirling all around. she's laying on a carpet in the kitchen watching the leaves and she will most of the day. tonight i will comb her to perfection. i will put a vision in my mind's eye and send it to her as a telepathic love letter. i will tell her she is the truest purest gift of creature a couple could ever have shared.
leaves and tears are falling but not for much longer.