Tuesday, February 2, 2010
In memory of Breton
Seventeen years ago, I went to the Homer Animal Shelter at the age of 19 looking for a cat. I had always been a cat person, but when I got there, a small, pitch-covered yellow lab curled herself into my lap and I was sunk.
I had just moved to Homer and was still figuring out a lot of things at the age of 19. My partner at the time was a traveler and I had entertained the idea of going with him to India, but the arrival of Breton in our lives signaled my desire to go a different direction. But she was such an easy dog, so quickly trained, so mellow, that she worked her way into both our lives and settled us, in a way.
And while she was an exceptionally obedient and easy dog for most of her life, I have all day been flashing through distinct memories of her. The day she got stomped by a moose and we had to take her to the vet on a sunday and assist in the surgery (and Jerzy got so light-headed he had to leave the room ... who knew?) The time I was running with her in Anchorage on the coastal trail and she swam out into the Inlet after a duck and was so far out there that her head kept disappearing with each wave. Swimming with the Belugas off the airport beach in Anchorage. The time she took off on the 4th of July because she was afraid of the fireworks. Roller-jouring with her.
The thing is, my memories of her span my entire adult life thus far. All of it. She's lived with me in countless different homes in Homer, Anchorage, Oregon, Kenai and Homer again. She's endured two trips on the Alcan, one with 3 cats and 2 other dogs crammed in a Subaru Loyale. She weathered so many twists and turns in my life, three major relationships, outlived two dog companions and who knows how many cats. She's seen me through the transition to motherhood - graciously taking a backseat to my children and enduring their abuses. And most recently, she has allowed me to once again shed tears on her as we together endured yet another transition.
I am most grateful that she lived a good, long life - was happy right up until the end, and made her need to go clear to me so I didn't have to waiver and choose for her. She at worst endured one night of real pain in her entire life, and I am so sorry for that, but in every other way, I believe I served her well. Her pain is over. Mine and my family's begins.
I'm sure I will think of more things to say, but for now, that's my thoughts. The task of digging a grave in the frozen ground must now be accomplished - a fire is burning under the tree in the back yard. This afternoon, Liam and I will think of some way to memorialize her properly and begin processing this loss. Deep breaths.