Monday, April 13, 2009

Love Lies Bleeding

Requiem for a Stray
I didn't post yesterday because I went to a party. This new friend Gwen, who found me on Facebook, who lives right in my nabe, and is also a screenwriter, had a dozen of her peeps over for wine, women and song.
Well, okay -- and a few men, too.

It was fun to hang out with other writers, and actors, musicians, artists and singers. There was no talk of mortgages and vacations and expensive vehicles. Just people sharing their stories nd having a great time. It was a real down-home Venice/Marina vibe. Great food. Great wine. Actually decent karaoke. I got there at 1:00 to help her set up and stayed until the bitter end, past midnight, which is rare for this slightly greying chick.

I got home, full of good cheer ...

To find that my dog Tina had died in her sleep.

I won't go into the next part. Let's just say it involved a lot of phone calls, crying, and a dear neighbor/friend/dog whisperer who helped me deal with the gory details. Now that's a true friend.

Tina was about 11 or 12 -- not sure exactly, because I had rescued her. I was told she was 2 when I got her, but my vet assured me that she was about 5 or 6 -- she told me that sometimes these agencies lie about the dog's age because some people don't want to adopt an 'older' dog.


Tina was a Cocker Spaniel/King Charles mix, which worked out great, because both dogs resemble each other. And I've found that a 'mutt' is quite often more chill than a pure breed.

Tina was chill.

She was a bit hyper when I first got her, but I couldn't blame her. I'd be hyper, too, if someone had abandoned me on the street. She had a limp on her rear left leg, and when she ran, she kind of skipped, and it was horribly cute. Some people asked what was wrong with her -- to which I would reply, 'nothing. What's wrong with you?

This is my first full day without her, so please bear with me. I'm not going to post anything today but this eulogy. She deserves at least that. And apologies in advance about this rambling, squishy, melancholy, sentimental, stream-of-conciousness -- mess.

The last four months I noticed she was winding down. She couldn't walk up or down the stairs to my apartment, so I had to carry her. I'd hold her in front of me, like she was flying, and I'd sing 'Super Dog ... She's flying.'

She loved it.

Toward the end of the year I started to notice she couldn't walk that far. Which kind of defeats the purpose of a walk. So I'd take her around to the rear of my building, which faces the canal, and sit with her and watch the ducks.

A long time I ago I taught her a trick. If she pooped, she'd get a treat. (The idea occured to me one rainy day while I was WAITING and WAITING for her to go ... getting soaked.) What was funny was she got into the habit of trying to trick me into thinking she'd gone so she could get a treat. Trust me, there's nothing more hilarious than a dog pretending go ... and not going.

So we'd sit under the tree and watch the ducks, and she'd try to fake me out.

Sometimes I would pretend that she fooled me, and she got her treat.

After I lost my job late last year, I was able to be with her all day long. Four walks instead of two. (Four walks, no waiting.) She'd sit under a chair next to my work station and make sure I got my writing done.

And I find myself still looking there from time to time.

Sometimes it feels like she's still here. Because she is.

I think the hardest part is sleeping alone. I know, because I've gone through this before. In a week or two or three, after I've grieved, I'll rescue another angel. But for now, the bed will be empty for awhile.

Earlier today I dreaded writing this blog, because I knew it would feel like opening a vein. Which of course, writers are supposed to do -- but I just prefer to have my characters bleed. Not me.

I'm not trying to be deep or profound or -- I dunno -- try to reveal some hidden universal truth. Because we all know about the unconditional love of an animal. Someone who's always there for you, who never flakes out, who lets you love them with all your heart. So much that it feels ... perfect and true and right.

And when they're gone, it just fucking hurts so much. A big, fat fucking hole in your heart.

I went for a long walk this morning, carrying her leash, which I'll do for awhile. I don't care if people think it's strange. Because it's not. I bumped into my friend walking a couple of her dogs, and I joined them. We then went back to her place and watched The Price Is Right with the five dogs currently staying there. (She's not crazy -- she boards them.)

I don't watch TV, so this was surreal. But oddly comforting. Drew Carrey can be comforting.

So can a 100-pound Collie mix who is purring really loudly because you're stroking her tummy.

I think I'm gonna back over there after I post this. Because I need some more love.

And for now, Tina's bowl is full of fresh water. Right where it belongs, on the kitchen floor.

Because sometimes, you just never know ...


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