One of our dogs died today.
Harry, a six year old Maltese who was happy so long as he had a human to lie down next to. Or on. If you lay down, he liked to climb on top of your chest and...plonk down. A small dog, but solid, with heavy muscle.
Or if you were sitting up, he'd settle for wedging himself against you...and turning upside down, legs and nose in the air, mouth open. He could manage to do this if you were sitting in an armchair.
Two weeks ago, he developed constipation. We gave him cod liver oil but it didn't help. Whenever he tried to take a dump, he howled in pain and nothing came out. His rear end was swollen, but all the pain was on the inside.
One week ago, the vet said he had a colonic hernia - viscera protruding through muscle, blocking the passage.
Four days ago, he had an operation to correct it. He was happier, not in pain, but refused to eat anything. We managed to get him to swallow his medicines by squirting them into his mouth - and he actually seemed to enjoy it.
He drank plenty of water, but then always brought it up again. Yesterday he was lethargic and weak, barely able to walk, but starting to be able to crouch and defacate in the garden - without obvious discomfort.
Then this evening...he just didn't wake up from a nap.
Another vet is storing the body until we can have him cremated.
These are the facts. And that's the easy part.
Maybe the truma of the surgery was too much, maybe there was just too much wrong to fix. There's no easy way to tell, and that's...okay.
I'm 45. My father is 82. I don't think I've ever seen him cry before. What am I supposed to make of this?
Checking for a pulse, feeling for slight breathing, noting how the flesh was turning cold. A slightly uncomfortable sensation, but nothing difficult to cope with. Seeing how rigour mortis had stiffened his legs when we moved him - that was deeply unsettling.
The other dogs - sometimes they barked or growled when Harry was wolfing down food from their plates, or splayed on their favourite cushion - no one could splay like Harry. But when confronted with his body, it was as if they couldn't see it. It wasn't him to them.
So I'm left with a scattering of mundane memories, that suddenly have an extra colouring. That time we sent him to have his coat trimmed, and he came back almost with a buzzcut, which seemed to puzzle him. The time our youngest dog Rosie was in season, and Harry followed her around, wagging frantically.
And the ritual every night when Harry recognised the signs that we were preparing to sleep, and he got over excited, running around and barking, trying to decide whose bed he would sleep on.
Yes, I'll miss that. Goodnight Harry.