He Liked Food

Our dog, Newton, died on Monday.

I’ve been told I write a pretty good pet obituary (I’ll add that to my resume) but the words are not coming this time.

Maybe it’s because his departure took much longer than we originally expected, but was still very sudden in the end.

Maybe it’s the pain of my empath brain being overtaken with the image of my sobbing husband.

Maybe it’s guilt for viewing him as a burden, with incontinence and blindness and deafness and expensive vet bills and so many prescriptions and his penchant for wandering away from the house if he got out and forgetting who and where he was until we found him. Now, none of that seems to matter at all, and I wish I had lamented it much less.

We had been married only about 6 months when we got Newton. So he was basically our first kid. We had the cats of course, but cats are so independent. A dog is more like a permanent toddler. I think that’s what makes it the hardest—a whole era of our marriage has ended.

The house feels empty without him. Three kids and two cats and the house feels empty. Which is a pretty good way to describe his personality to you.

Everything I used to be irritated with is what I miss now. His face in my lap when I ate. Him barking every time the doorbell rang. The clickety-clack of his nails and the slapping of the doggie door in the middle of the night. The way he smelled if we went too long without a bath. The habit he had of going into the shower after we got out, and licking the floor.

The girls at the vet’s office loved him. He was a frequent flyer so they really got to know him. They were telling us cute stories as they inserted his IV for the euthanasia, which made it a little more tolerable. I know they will grieve him too. He made friends and had fans literally everywhere he went.

I am surprisingly handling this loss like I’m not a completely broken person. Which is refreshing. It still sucks, don’t get me wrong. I started sobbing when I set the dinner table tonight because the floor has just gotten so sticky and dirty this week. It made me remember how much he “helped out” with the cleaning around here. But, I’m a little more put together these days. I understand grief more, and how to unpack it. And then pack it back up.

I joked that his tombstone should read, “He liked food.” In classic beagle fashion, he was very…enthusiastic about food. In the end, I couldn’t even get him to take his pills with a glob of peanut butter. And you know what? I didn’t force it. That was when I knew he was really done. He wasn’t the same old Newton anymore.

It’s still so hard to believe he’s gone. We will miss him so much. Finley still asks where he is. And I’m pretty sure the cats are looking for him.

His ashes are home now, and he sits on the shelf next to his late, great cat brother Nashua. May they meet up over the rainbow bridge and snuggle in the sun together forever.

Goodbye love. You were so wonderful.

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