Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Goodbye to Ness

My dog Ness died on Sunday. He had turned 15 years old in September, so he was an old dog, but had not been ill. I came home from church on Sunday to find that Ness was unable to get out of his bed. He had been sleeping all morning and probably didn't know himself that there was any problem untill I came home and woke him up. I thought at first that the feeling would soon return to his limbs but when that didn't happen after 10 minutes or so I realized something was seriously wrong and took him to the emergency vet. The vet concluded that something had happened in the neck region of his spine, possibly a lession or a slipped disc, not uncommon for dogs his size and particularly for dalmations. The only treatment option was major surgery, not appropriate for a 15 year old dog, so later that evening when my husband returned from a conference he had been at all weekend we decided it was best for Ness to euthanize him.

I was glad that the day before Ness and I and our other dog, Ness's daughter, Sabrina, had all gone for a long walk. That evening they had slept together on a blanket in front of a fire in the living room while I wrote my sermon. Saturday night we had all slept in the bed as I let them do when Peleg is out of town. Sunday morning they had breakfast as normal and Ness had climbed up and down the stairs to the place where they sleep during the day. Ness had been fully alive, doing the things he most loved to do up until just hours before his death. Saturday he had eaten a persimmon that had dropped off the tree in our backyard.

Ness means "miracle" in Hebrew. 15 years ago, as a puppy, he had been a Hanukkah present to Peleg's brother from a girlfriend. He was my miracle boy. I called him "Sweet-ness" a pure expression of unconditional love. It's a strange system we're in the midst of, life and death, that the things we love we must lose. There's a hole in my life no amount of theology can fill. It's just sad, unreasonable sadness, my pain a consequence of love, and a testimony to it.


Lizard Eater said...

I'm sorry. Isn't it a testament to the web of existence how an animal can give us so much love.

My Pooh-brain can't wrap itself around death ... how a creature can be alive and happy and then, gone so quickly.

Rest gently, Ness.

Earthbound Spirit said...

From "Braided Creek: A conversation in poetry," by Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser:

"To have reverence for life
you must have reverence for death.
The dogs we love are not taken from us
but leave when summoned by the gods."

My sympathies to you on your loss.