Translate

Monday, October 31, 2011

Today, I'm sad. We had to put down our dog, Cubby. That was his name because he looked like a bear cub, not because we have any affection for the Cubs! (as should be obvious from the blog) Anyway, believe me when I tell you that he was the best dog a person could ask for. Always happy, even to the end. He understood that I had a disability; he just worked around it. He spent long hours just guarding my door. He'd jump around like a lunatic at the sight of us; he'd bark like a mad dog at strangers, and then ask for pets 2 minutes later. It wasn't long ago he'd lay right behind my wheelchair and be jarred to action by the magnetic click of my brakes releasing. He was the dumbest, most adorable Australian Shepherd you ever saw. One green eye, and one clear. My favorite pastime was to put on my affectionate voice and say, "Are you so stupid, Cubby? Yes, you're so stupid!"
I used to say, "You're a silly Cubby" and "You're our Cubby-dog" like it wasn't his name, it was his breed. Once you've met Cubby, there are very few dogs stick in your mind like he did. Cubby was my brother's dog, but we all knew I'd take it the hardest. He spent all his time with me. For some odd reason, the last few animals we had spent their final days with me. I do stay relatively stable and quiet. I discovered that I am an animal person these last 12 years; there's something special about a dog; to turn one against you, ordinarily, you have to be trying. Cats are disliked by some, but that is foolish; they simply have their own language of affection and trust you must learn. But Cubby the dog was straightforward in his love; he made friends easily, he begged for people-food like a champ, and he was the best alarm system I've ever seen, at least until the prospective malefactor was in the house; then, he'd just befriend you. I can't really tell you exactly why I loved him so much. I just did. And whatever dog-love he was capable of, he gave it all the way. I swear I almost called him in here; I'll probably almost do that a lot for the next week.
Cubby knew when we were excited, or when there was a holiday. And he was fired up right there with us. He liked to catch french fries in the air; he loved rolling in dirt and snow. Especially snow. What would an Australian dog breed know about it? I don't know. But that was Cubby. The last year or so, he'd rub his head on my leg; I think that was his way of saying, "We're the best of friends, you and me." Cubby's decline from arthritis and tumors was fast; he still thought he was a puppy, dancing around trying to run too fast. When he had trouble getting up, we initially told ourselves his nails were too long and the floor was slick. The arthritis meds helped him tremendously at first; he was back to himself. But those things don't improve, and when he started to fall over without being able to get back up, we knew it was trouble. He was so happy and otherwise healthy that we hesitated at first. When he trembled with pain, we knew we had to let him go. He had to go out about an hour before we said goodbye for the last time. And he wasn't slow about it; you have to trust yourself in times like that; you might be tempted to hold on too long.
My sister and my sister-in-law took him to the vet, because they know that my brother and I are in reality two of the softest men you will ever meet. Neither one of us could do it. Try not to laugh. I walked him to the car, and promptly fell apart. I remember the day I first met Cubby: at a frat-house on a Saturday at 7 in the morning. It was 1999 then. Apparently, Kevin thought it would be funny to have Cubby wake me up. He licked me into submission, and we were friends for life. I'm pretty emotional about the whole thing, but it absolutely convinces me again of the dignity of humanity. Even if I hadn't read St. Thomas, I would know that humans have a supernatural end. We can have a great deal of pleasure and fun in this life, and even together, but humans don't exist simply to serve other humans. We belong to God; we don't choose to begin life, and we ought not choose when it ends. Even our stupid euphemism 'euthanasia' keeps us from realizing the glory we are meant for. The word means "good death," but we weren't supposed to die. It is a mercy from God, so that we don't die (God-willing) in sinfulness and suffering, but it is a severe one. As for dogs and other pets, it's like a deal: "You feed me and give me a relatively hassle-free life, and I'll be cute and an extremely loyal friend of yours." Given the fact that there's nothing after this, (for him) I owed it to my friend not to drag things out. I think it hurts precisely because I'm made for eternity, and in the face of the gut feelings the words "friend," "love," and "death" evoke, it gets a little hard to make the nature-grace distinction. I'll miss my Cubby.

No comments: