by Mariah Lynde
A dog's final day brings words of wisdom and memories of a long life.
Today is the last day of my life. I can feel it in the ache of my bones and the pain in my chest each time I take a breath. It is no surprise that this day has come. Twelve seasons before I had seen the signs.
My once luxurious fur was balding in spots and losing its luster. Where once I had been able to dash across the yard in five leaps, I had begun to walk in a lumbering fashion taking a half hour to walk one way and back. It was then I began planning for this day. One last time I became pregnant, delivering a litter of pups into this world, but this time bonding to a pup so that my family would keep him.
Struggling to keep my eyes open, I know my time is running short. Kaylie my first person in the family keeps looking over at me. I think she knows. I smell salt and water on her skin. As I have in all the times past, I make my way over to Kaylie, pushing my nose up against her hand with a small whine. My nose is no longer cool and wet to the touch, but dry and cracked as well as painful to move.
My breath rasps out, the panting coming in shallow gasps that are not providing enough air. My tongue is dry lolling out of the left side of my mouth in search of any moisture it can find. This time whine and call my son over. My pup of a son is my last gift to the family that is so much a part of me.
The one regret I have is not being able to tell my human family what I have learned. Whether it is because of my shorter life span, or the fact I have a simpler existence I could not say. And the things I’m about to tell my son I would tell them as well. Unfortunately, they will only hear a series of growls and whines.
Two years old and full of vigor, my son, Indy bounds up behind me. Hearing my breathing he slows, knowing that this will be my last conversation with him.
“I know, my son. But listen to well to that which I am about to share. “
“If you ever get the opportunity to tell our human family these words, do so. But you must understand, these words will be all I can give you to love by. I have seen much in my life. Children grow and move away. Mating and death. I have seen the world change from a place of boxy shapes with big tires to circular shapes with very little rubber for us to chase. Humans are silly creatures my son. They forget the importance of family and life. They run around in their fast cars and travel machines never thinking of what they do. If the day comes you can tell them anything, of all of these should be the most important. Do not wait to live your life, live it each and every day. Do not worry about a new car, or how their clothing looks, but instead on the love and affection they neglect with those they care for. Tell them to slow down, the more they run and rush, the more they miss in life and shorten their time.
But, these words are for you. Humans are curious beasts. They may create new things, walk upright, but in the end they are creatures none the less. There will be times they forget to pet you, times when they will demand to do so, and times when the will not realize they need you. Our human family thinks more on the world outside of them then within. Be patient. Forgive them if they forget your water one day. When you smell their tears be there while they cry. Humans have forgotten how to love one another and stand as family. We must teach them. Watch their customs, watch their ways. They will continue to create and build past what they can control. Protect them when needed. Love them always. Be sure to watch for yourself and your safety so you can help them. Do this my son, and you will fulfill the needs of our family. Love them when I cannot.”
“Mother, please can you stay?”
“I have lived my life. Eighty- six seasons I have been alive. That is twenty two human years. I have seen my human sister grow up and find mates. Have children of her own and seen them grow into strong young pups. I have watched men make giant screens to peer at one another and devices that fit in my mouth that show pictures and let you hear voices of others. I have seen the changing of millennia where people became inspired to do greater things.
I have seen my share of sorrows as well. I have watched the death of my human sister’s family with age and disease as well as the loss of her friends and places of comfort. There have been a million tears cried into my fur, while I shed tears of my own for her loss. I could never tell her she was not alone, and my heart aches to know I cannot tell her goodbye. I have birthed and sent away thirty pups in my lifetime, but you my son; I give my most precious task to. Love this family. Keep them safe. Be their strength, their comfort, and protector. Show them love unconditionally where they think there is none. Show them that despite their actions and choices, they are never alone. We all need one another. We all need to be loved.”
My body aches as I lay down my final words and edict given. I pray he is strong enough to add to my lessons.
Closing my eyes and falling into unending sleep.