Nearly one week after Cy’s 13th birthday, he left us.
“Did he go to heaven, mom, since he was such a good dog?” Maria asked as I drove her home from the grocery tonight.
After we turned off the tv last night and got ready to read some Berenstein books, Mario turned a sullen face my way. “I really miss Cy and Duke, mom.” Duke was a dog owned by my dad and stepmom who died about a year ago. I shook my head and held him tight and told him I missed Cy, too. Maria joined in the embrace. We huddled together for a few moments putting our collective energy together to shoot up to the moon and stars for Cy. When we let go, we smiled at each other and told stories about our pup – the dog who had been in Maria’s and Mario’s lives since birth. I told them how he stood guard over them as babies; how he refused to let anyone near them until they passed a hard-core smell test; how he barked so loud at every person or thing at our front door and Maria and Mario would just sit in their bouncy and stare at him knowing he would keep them safe; how they could pull his tail or grab his ear and he would lick their hands and feet as if they were gods; how they rubbed his belly and made him feel like a king.
I miss him.
I woke the next morning and rushed downstairs to let him out and he was no more. His bowls were still in the pantry, remnants of spaghetti on the sides of them. His plush toy lodged under one bowl. I see how our love for him blinded us for a time prior to his passing. He could barely get up off his bed, and when he did, it was merely to hobble outside to go to the bathroom and then hobble back in (many times with us helping him) to get back into bed. We knew he was arthritic in his back legs and he was turning 13 but he still had those baby brown eyes and those soft wavy ears and that wet cold nose and that is all we could see when we looked at him. We didn’t want to see him go; he was a part of our family who belonged next to us always.
He never left my side when I was in the house. Jon was definitely the “alpha” dog and I was Cy’s playmate and consoler and “mama.” He cuddled up beside me as a pup and laid next to me as an adult propping his arms on me to massage them. He looked to Jon for the alpha pat on the head, which would sustain him for a week. He looked to me to put on his leash daily and take him for a 6 mile run to the river and throw him the tennis ball and rest by his side while reading the paper. If I went in the kitchen, he followed. If I went upstairs to bed at night, he followed. If I was sick at night and had to lay downstairs, I could count on him picking his tired self up and coming with me. He loved me well.
When we laid with him at the vet’s office, I smelled him. He smelled of Cy, the Cy I picked up and squeezed as an eight week old pup. He scooted his paw close to my hand and I rubbed it with tears gathering heavy in my eyes. I kissed that cold wet nose and breathed in his doggy breath as he gave me one last lick on the chin. Jon sat by my side and wept. Cy was as much his baby as mine and even though scared to death of a gun shot as a pup, Cy was determined to be close to his master in the field and stood by Jon on many a hunting trip.
We are still pondering a song for which to remember him. I ran across a friend of mine on the day of his death and she told me that she always found a song that her and the kids could play to remember their dog who passed away. I liked that idea very much.