Thursday, December 17, 2009

A dogless night

The emptiness in my house was overwhelming.
There was no tail-wagging, smiling dog to greet me as I walked in the door. No pit-patter of paws down the hallway. No big eyes beggin’ to secure a spot on the couch. No four-legged creature to jump up from a deep sleep just to accompany me as I walked to the fridge.
It was a dogless night at my house.
Oh, the emptiness. I don’t know how those non-dog owners handle it.
It wasn’t exactly like we were worried for our pooch, thinking of his loneliness as he spent the night in a cage at the vet’s office or something. In fact, it was exactly the opposite — our dog was out having a doggone good time, getting lots of love and special attention from my Dad.
It was Thanksgiving when my Dad, who just adores my dog, made his request.
“It gets kind of lonely at the house, ya know,” he told me. “I was wondering if I could borrow Sensi for the night — he’s good company. I can talk to him, play with him, even just take a nap with him.”
I was touched. My Dad and my dog really do have a special bond. I have this picture of my Dad hugging my dog and Sensi is clearly hugging him back, his big ol’ pit bull head nestled right into my Dad’s neck.
Of course, I said yes. But even as I said it, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy night.
My husband and I coped in an odd, somewhat comedic manner. He’d call out Sensi’s name, perhaps just to say it like he normally would, and I’d do the same.
Perhaps the worst was when I grabbed my keys to put them in my purse. It was a strong reminder of the associations I’ve made in my life. When I grab my keys, I expect to hear the jingle of my dog’s collar as he leaps up and makes his way to my side to figure out what’s going on, if I’m leaving and if, just if, there’s the possibility I might want some four-legged company on my travels.
But last night, there was no jingle of the collar. No dog at my side, peering up at me with great hope in his eyes that I might just take him on a little trip in the car. I looked at my keys for a moment, sighed and then, with a heavy heart, put them away and went back to what I was doing.
“He’s having a blast with your Dad, Karen,” I told myself. “Don’t be such a loser. It’s not like he’s gone for good.”
Truly, though, his absence last night made both my husband and I think about those awful days that will come after he is gone. As I’ve said before on this blog, my dog is getting into his senior years and what will inevitably come is not lost on me.
“We better have a replacement lined up,” I told my husband last night, half-joking but more serious than I’d like to admit. “I just can’t handle all this emptiness. I need a dog underfoot.”
There was one upside to Sensi’s absence and that was the good night’s sleep that both my husband and I got, considering no 90-pound dog had climbed up between us on the bed to stretch out and steal all our covers.
Which made me think: the next dog will be crate trained. No doubt.

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