Gertie, a Love Dog

Imbolc and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Following the metaphor one post below. Got knocked off my board, almost carried away by rip tides. Gertie has cancer, maybe a couple of weeks to live. Vet this morning.

Pet euthanasia. I’m an outlier on this one, I know. I realized how opposed I am to it when Buck died in my arms at the UofM vet hospital. The pink liquid the vet injected worked. He died. All I could think: he trusted me.

Since then all of our dogs but two, Orion and Sorsha, have received home hospice care until their death. What I want for Gertie, too.

Climbing down into the dark well that is my aversion. The well is deep and cold, might be bottomless. Might be my Mom’s death is in there. I know for sure the issues of trust and choice are. Our dogs trust me with their lives for their whole lives. They have no ability to enter into the decision.

Lots of folks, the majority I imagine, the great majority, see euthanasia as a final kindness. I don’t. It’s wound up in what’s convenient, less messy, easier.

Gertie has trouble walking now. When Orion reached that stage with his osteosarcoma, we had to euthanize him. I couldn’t pick him up, take him outside, bring him back inside. 190 pounds. 30 pounds more than me at the time. Even though I agreed it needed to be done, I still couldn’t stand to be there.

I was in Kate’s sewing room, hyper-ventilating and crying. Feeling like I had betrayed both Orion and myself. Kate was there. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t support her, or Orion, but, I couldn’t.

Now that Gertie’s home I took her doggy bed down from the loft. Kate suggested it. Gertie stayed up here with me most days since we moved here 5 years ago. Even when her back right leg gave her trouble, a botched operation on a torn acl, she came up here on three legs. Now Murdoch is here, lying right where the doggy bed used to be.

Her diagnosis is neither unexpected, nor unusual. Gertie’s an old dog, our oldest, at 12. And, a rascal for all 12 years. So much fun. Sweet, too. Her kisses were meant. Not random licks for salt or submission. How do I know? I just do.

The well. That holy well. I remember the first time. When the doctor told Dad and me, Mom’s stroke had left her in a vegetative state. No coming back. Damn. 17. 3 in the morning at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis. Hard plastic chairs. Down. Down. Down. I didn’t climb back up out of that well until I quit drinking.

The holy wells of Ireland and Wales are portals to the Other World. A place where rags get tied on trees, flowers left by the opening, or, where the water gushes up from Mother Earth.

Suppose this means I need to go down this well again. Still. Live at the bottom for a while. Greet the darkness, my old friend. Might be where I get my love of fecund darkness, of quiet darkness, of the longest night.

Anyhow, Gertie. We’ll make her comfortable.


Imbolc and the Shadow Mountain Moon

Tuesday gratefuls: Ted, who plowed our driveway early. The snow. Temps below zero. Almost a Minnesota June afternoon. Delicious meal last night, SeoAh. (Spring onions, enoki mushrooms, eggplant and thinly sliced, fried beef.) Not having to watch Murdoch. A weird short TV series about teens and Norwegian myth: Ragnarok.

When I picked up SeoAh at DIA on Sunday, it was 74. This morning we have over 6 inches of fresh snow and the temp is -2 on Shadow Mountain.

When I sit on the bench with Kate, hugging her, my heart leaps. Yes, she’s bony, her s-shaped spine protrudes and her ribs are palpable, but she’s over a hundred pounds now. She moves with much less effort and her pencil is still sharp for crosswords.

We’ve come to a new place, an appreciation for the fragility of our bodies tempered by the constancy of our love. Two years in we smile and laugh a lot. We plan for the future. Enjoy meals together. Care for the dogs together.

The snow comes down and its beauty is sweet. The occasional deer and elk in our yard are thank you gifts from the mountain spirits. Our house is bright and cheerful. We live in the Rockies and on Shadow Mountain.

Murdoch has proved a pain in the elbow and wrist, but his eagerness, his teen dog energy, his love, like Kepler, of the snow makes him a joy, too. Everything is polyvalent.

Before she left Singapore for Colorado, SeoAh told Joe she was going home. “Your home is here,” he said. “No,” she said, “I have two homes. One here and one in Colorado.” She will come back at least three more times for a month. She is our daughter.

Here’s the takeaway. No matter the challenges our perspective on them is up to us. We can become drowned in a sea of troubles, resenting misfortune, or we can learn how to surf.

This Rumi poem is a gift from Paul Strickland:

Love Dogs by Rumi

One night a man was crying Allah! Allah!

His lips grew sweet with praising, until a cynic said, “So! I’ve heard you calling out, but have you ever gotten any response?”

The man had no answer to that. He quit praying and fell into a
confused sleep. He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,in a
thick, green foliage.

“Why did you stop praising?”

“Because I’ve never heard anything

“This longing you express is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. That whining is the

There are love dogs no one knows the names of.
Give your life to be one of them.