Monday, May 21, 2012

A Dog Remembers...

I did not have it in me, when I got back from Lexi's euthanasia, to dispose of her ancient leather collar and leash.  Instead, I hung them on the usual peg in the garage and told myself I'd get rid of them another day.

Today was that day.  I rolled up the collar and the leash in my hand, and was crossing the kitchen on my way to the trash bin when Wolfie intercepted me.  He stuck his big muzzle in my hand, sniffed, put his ears back and slowly wagged his tail.  The look on his face was one of gentle happiness, undiluted, as far as I could tell, by grief or regret.  He stood there a long time, sniffing and wagging his tail.  Bisou also came over and stood on her hind legs to sniff and lick,  jumping the way she used to jump to reach Lexi's muzzle in the eternal puppy greeting.

As I watched them, I remembered Lexi doing something very similar years ago.  My younger daughter, whom she adored, had visited and then gone back home to Montana.  She then mailed me something in one of those padded envelopes--probably a book.  I left the opened envelope on the stairs and later found Lexi with her nose inside it, ears back, tail wagging slowly, and that same gentle, ecstatic look on her face.
I myself was grieving my daughter's departure at the time, and if I had found, say, a sweater that she had left behind, I would have felt sadness, pure and simple, instead of Lexi's smiling reminiscence.

And it was sadness that I was feeling holding Lexi's leash this morning, sadness and the desire to dispose of it quickly so I wouldn't have to feel sad anymore.  Not so my two dogs.  They were remembering Lexi, their stern but kindly mentor, who inexplicably left one day and did not come back.  And they, unlike me, were wholly glad that she had for a moment been with us in the kitchen again.

8 comments :

  1. I feel that same way when I notice that some piece of family memorabilia smells like my Mom or Dad!

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  2. I think it's better to feel like the dogs and have happiness in remembering. It saves you from a lot of pain. Why do we feel that anyway?

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  3. No, I do feel like the dogs and wag my tail! Humans often don't remember that all their other senses take in feelings - other than sight and sound - until something triggers a memory!

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  4. There's nothing like the sense of smell for triggering memories, even among us bipeds.

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  5. I think that for us humans time is a big factor. Today when something brings my grandparents back for me I stop and live in the layered moment, drinking in their sudden presence with joy, but a few years ago the same trigger would have brought back the pain of separation and loss. Perhaps as short-term memory - the memory of the loss – fades, long term memory surfaces and takes precedence.

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  6. @Elizabeth. That's exactly my experience. I only wish I had saved some different items now that the long decline has faded and I can enjoy the good memories.

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  7. that is so sweet. rosie never met boscoe, but she keeps dashing up to the room where we have his collar (it's hanging on the crank of one of our alcove windows) and grabbing it and running downstairs with it. she must smell a strange dog on it, and that intrigues her.

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  8. A propos of all this, I'd like to recommend a movie that I love, "Dean Spanley." It features, among other well-loved British actors, a deliciously senescent Peter O'Toole. I understand the movie is not available on Netflicks yet. All you dog lovers should be on the lookout for it.

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