Saturday, April 16, 2005

"The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away . . . "

My sweet dog Maddie died this morning at 8:40 at the hospital over in Ohio. And in the end the vets were still baffled over what caused the bleeding that started in her nose and eventually spread to her whole system. They considered auto-immune diseases, they looked again at the possibility of cancer, but the presenting symptoms and the test results all militated against these diagnoses. What it really looked like was rat poisoning. Like she'd got into some Warfarin. But I don't have any rat poison around my place. I don't know anybody in the neighborhood who keeps rat poison around his place. And Maddie, with her bad back two weeks ago, wasn't in a position to go walking round the neighborhood to pick any up along the way.

So what was it? What killed my little dog so quickly? I suppose this is one of those "If-God-wants-me-to-know-the-answer-to-that-He'll-let-me-know" questions. There's no question, though, that I'm glad one of the late shift vets called me at 12:30 AM last night and told me that if I wanted to see Maddie alive, I'd better come right away. I arrived there around 2:00 AM. She was lying on her side and couldn't get up. But she wagged her tail when she saw me-- the last she did-- and after awhile pulled herself out of her kennel to lay her head on my lap. We remained like that till 8:00 AM, when the staff moved us to an examination room, to await the morning shift attending vet. But it was all over long before the vet arrived.

I've brought Maddie home and built her a little pine plank coffin with a brass plate with her name and dates on it on the lid. Tomorrow evening a friend will come and help me bury her in the back garden. I'd like to mark the spot with a rose bush-- a dog rose (rosa canina) if someone would sell me one.

But in the meantime I'm having to get used to the idea she's gone. I keep wanting to call her and expect that she'll come. Then I simply want to swear when I remember how things are. Not at God; just at the fearful and obnoxious unfairness of the last enemy, Death. And I think that if this is how I feel when I've merely lost a beloved pet, how truly terrible the onslaught must be when it's launched against one bereaved of a beloved child, parent, sibling, or spouse. Life seems so tenuous and fragile-- a statement I probably should reflect on theologically, but not now. Not tonight. I've had no sleep since Friday morning, and now that everything's done that needed to be done, the adrenalin that has kept me going is as spent and defunct as my poor little dog.