Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Our Appointed Goodbye


You bit her again. You hardly broke skin, but your top teeth hit her eyebrow and your bottom teeth pressed and nearly pierced her cheek. For less than a second, my child's face was in your mouth. I could list all the dogs you have bitten, all the adults too and the other child. I could list all the positions of shame I have taken and all the places I have hidden with your body beneath my hands, my mind and mouth weeping frustration, excuses and worry. 


You've been with us for nearly nine years. I found you in a shelter. Do you remember? You were in a glass room, skinny and scared. You weren't supposed to live with children, but I had no children then and you were so sweet, quietly looking at me and then sadly pressing your body against my knee. How bad, I thought, could you be? You are in your tenth year now. Anxiety fuels you much of the time, but not now, not at night. Here in this house, while I sit writing, you lie near me sleeping. Your body rests on its side, belly nodding to the peace of sleep, to dreams of running without leash through woods and fields and hills, running...running...running. I want to watch your dreams, dear girl. I want to see your black and white stories of four-legged flight. And tonight, while you lie at my feet dreaming, I want your life to end now, on its own. While you sleep at my feet on this floor you know while the stove hums out heat, I want your heart to slow and cease. For I don't want to do it. I don't want tomorrow morning's appointment, but we don't know what else to do. You can't stay here anymore. We can't be sure you aren't going to bite her or any of us again. You've given us so many warnings, and yet, we have kept you. We tried to find a home for you with no children last year, but we couldn't. There is no one else but us. We love you. And I believe you love us as much as a dog can love us, but your mind is littered with fear, fear that will hurt us all again. So yes, my love, it's time, time for goodbye. Time for a quiet fade from life to death. 

My mind is working to quiet my heart, but I can't keep from crying and clutching and wishing that you would just be better and that these past nine years would have just been easier and happier for us and you, but you, you bark at everything now and you've bitten dogs and nearly everyone dearest to you. You are frightened of cats and dogs and squirrels, people, bicycles, and cars. You are scared of big trucks and small cars, doors that open suddenly, joggers, slow old ladies and wild turkeys, foxes, and thunder. We want you, but we can't have you because we can't have all of you. I want you hiking with me in the empty woods. I want you sleeping at my feet. I want your fur in my hands and your muddy body on my passenger seat, but I can no longer justify your teeth on the skin of anyone. So, my darling girl, it's time. Time we said our appointed goodbye. I don't believe I will regret this decision, but I will mourn for it and I will mourn for you for a very long time.