‘Griffon’ more than just a dog

I was punched in the heart Friday night with the grievous and cold reminder that dogs don’t live forever, and that sometimes—no matter how much we love them—we don’t have the power to save their lives.
But alongside the constant thump of my heart ache, I take great solace in my intuition, which in the dark of the moment sped me the gift of being with my dog in the final minutes of his life after he sustained massive injuries from a hit-and-run driver.
It’s human nature to recount trauma and I’ve gone over this one with a fine-tooth comb trying to figure out how I could have thwarted fate. Maybe if I’d been a minute or two later sending the dogs outside to play. . . .
I still can see the reflection of headlights in the window of my bedroom, where a hundred times before I’d seen the same thing and never batted an eye. But that night, at 7:40 p.m., something told me things were different.
When I went to the door and called “Dogs,” only one came by—and I ran and the universe unfolded and things I still don’t understand came to pass.
“Griffon” was lying just five feet out of the driveway from where he used to sit with tail wagging in anticipation of his #1 teenager to get off the school bus—just five feet from where he used to sit and wait for me to come home from work.
There would be no more funny jokes about the unsung chewer of ice cube trays and couches, and no more of the regal dog who would rest himself prone on a winter snowbank and quietly observe his country world.
This simple-minded, happy-go-lucky, lovable, unconditional creature was broken and swept violently to a traumatic end. And as I knelt with my hands on him, listening to his fight to breathe, and telling him “it’s okay” and that “I’m right here” and to “let go, let it all go,” I wished I really was married to Superman and that he could turn back time to the moment before I’d let Griffon outside that night.
Even more, I wished the driver who hit him would have had the courage to stop and dignify the life of a dog with an acknowledgment of the accident.
And I still can hear a cry that grief open up and swallowed sobbing in the night when Griffon died on a country road—knowing the voice was my own and not recognizing it as something I’d ever heard before.
Griffon was more than just a dog. His head on your knee could heal the human heart.
So many of us who are pet owners share the crowd of sorrows that overwhelms us when the creatures we love die, and especially when they die unexpectedly.
They come into our lives with joy unbounded and teach us the meaning of true devotion. They rest themselves against our souls and make us part of theirs.
And if someone out there believes a dog has no soul, they’ve never really loved a dog.
I wish, too, they could see “Dot,” who sits quietly these days in the middle of the yard sniffing the breeze for any sign that her four-legged best friend is coming home.
I don’t think the universe singles us out for suffering and I believe loss is a normal part of life. I just wish our loss hadn’t happened this way and that maybe the universe had waited until dog days were old and in need of a long, deserved rest.
By the way, as Will Rogers once said (and I concur), “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.”

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