That is what my aunt would say about dogs ad nauseam.
If that is true then, Hobbes was a grumpy old man who wore his coat all the time because he was always cold. With bat ears.
When Hobbes made my aunt
dognap rescue him from a neglectful situation, it was pretty much his master plan. He knew she would bring him to me, His Person. There was no luck or fate. There was doggy intuition and cunning that overcame every obstacle. As my aunt got to know him, she decided that maybe he wasn’t a good fit for me and my apartment as he had major separation anxiety. The howling was formidable. It was decided he would be better off at my country living mother’s house. Hobbes would hear none of that, and to obtain his goal of going home with His Person, he yanked a leash from my uncle’s hand so that he could tear through the house and into my lap. And thus the prophecy was fulfilled.
I stopped making fun of people who called themselves Mom and Dad to the dog because this was the first step in making a family of my own. I bought a crate and an anti-barking collar because the howling when I left him was epic. I bought a special dog seat belt. I piled blankets for a dog, who having been born in Texas, abhorred the Mid-Atlantic between September and April. I hid shoes and underwear.
I loved him almost as much as he loved me. I say almost because I do not think humans can love like a dog can, with pure trust and abandon.
When he met John, he decided to love him because I loved him. And because he let him sleep in warm spots like his crotch.
The same could not be said for the kids. They changed his life too drastically. When I was pregnant, I remember him putting his head on my lap, and then looking up at me incredulously, like he heard what was going on in there, and he couldn’t believe I had let that happen. He did not appreciate vying for my attention, and he knew that on many levels he had been downgraded. But I was still His Person, and his doggy love remained pure. I gave him what I could.
Then the kids turned into petters instead of ear-pullers. They could cuddle. They were warm. They cooed to him (even if he was deaf for the last year or so.) I hope that he felt better.
And then he didn’t. He stopped eating. He stopped moving. He just stopped.
When we made the vet appointment, we knew. I think John had accepted it more than I had.
The vet found a lump in his abdomen as we suspected she would. Dogs know when it is time. They let us know. They stop being themselves. They let go and accept far sooner than we do.
So we made the decision, and I held him until he was gone. It was the closest I have ever come to to loving him as much as he loved me.
If you don’t count the short-lived hermit crab, this is the first time the kids have had to deal with death. We talked about it a lot, about the possibilities of Heaven, that Hobbes was better off because he wasn’t sick anymore. Yes, everyone dies, but usually not for a very, very long time. Hobbes was very old for a dog.
And even though it has been a month since he passed, the giant-earred void in our lives is still there. Out of the blue, every so often, one of the kids will say, “I miss Hobbes.” I always reply, “So do I.”