Saturday, July 03, 2010

Grief Is Funny

Funny weird, not funny ha ha. Trust me, I'm not laughing. It's been a rough couple of months.

On Tuesday, 5/18 my parents dog passed away peacefully in his sleep. He would have been 14 on June 1st. He was a border collie with quite a personality.

In the summer of 1996, I was living with my parents. Not exactly cool at the age of 28, but necessary. It had been 5 years since getting diagnosed with diabetes and we still hadn't made any headway towards getting it under control. So living alone wasn't an option. Not to mention having Type 1 Diabetes without insurance made money pretty tight.

My parents came home from running errands one Saturday afternoon in July, demanding that I close my eyes & hold out my hands. So I did. When I opened my eyes & looked into my hands, I was greeted by the second sweetest face I'd ever seen. The first sweetest belonging to my puppy girl, Sasha. There sat little Zander. Well technically it was Alexander Sebastian, but I thought that name was just too big for him so I called him Zander. What a great little guy he was. With a personality as big as his name.

Within a few days of bringing him home, my parents went on a two-week vacation to visit my Pop's family in Maryland. That left big sister babysitting. And let me tell you it was not an easy task.

Zander wouldn't sleep through the night. After several nights in a row of neither of us getting any sleep, I called the vet in a panic. He told me to try putting a radio near Zander's sleeping crate. Not a lot of success with that one. I think Zander objected to the type of music I made him listen too. Either that or he just hated DJ's because he literally reached through the crate & knocked the radio over.

After the vet stopped laughing, he suggested I get one of those wind-up alarm clocks that tick. I didn't even know these things still existed, but a trip to Walmart provided proof. Best of all, Zander slept through the night for the first time the very day I bought it. Well almost. He did manage to wake both of us up at about 4am by managing to turn on the alarm. A situation not repeated after I took a screwdriver to the alarm mechanism.

The alarm clock became his new favorite toy. He carried it around by the handle or scooted in along the floor for hours every day. It went nearly everywhere he did. Unless of course I was carrying him, in which case he paid the alarm clock no attention at all. My Mom still claims that his paws didn't hit the floor when I was home until he got too big for me to carry. I think she exaggerates. To prove her claim, she will tell you stories of a slightly larger Zander following me around the house & whining because I wouldn't pick him up. I say that I never carried him unless it was entirely necessary. I mean seriously, I let him walk on his own a lot. Mostly when I wasn't home, but that counts.

During this period there were a few more calls to the vet, though thankfully not in panic. Zander had started climbing up on my head & trying to prove his dominance in our little pack. And thanks to our not knowing to have his duclaw removed, he was starting to hurt me. After yet another laughing fit, the vet told me I'd have to show Zander that I was packleader. Um, okay.

It's easier than it sounds though. All I had to do was turn him on his back & growl in his face until he stopped struggling. The trick was to do it without laughing. Once I managed that it would last a month or so & then I'd have to do it again. Once he passed his puppy stage I could stop. Although he stopped climbing on my head, he never stopped thinking I was his litter mate. I truly didn't mind and it had it's upside.

Zander was a great companion. Too smart for his own good, but a sweet little guy. My favorite part was how he'd "talk" to me whenever I got home from work or just being away from the house. And after my parents moved in 2004, he even "talked" to me on the phone too. Being a good sister, I always talked back to him. Trust me, this amused our neighbors to no end. They must have thought I was more than a little nuts. Here is this border collie doing this sort of howling & yipping thing and a human answering him back. Probably grounds for being committed I'm sure.

After my parents moved to Maryland in August 2004, Zander was my Mommy's constant & almost only companion. My Pops drives a truck for a living & he can be gone for long stretches of time. So it was just Zander & Mommy a lot. Needless to say his death has hit her very hard. So in addition to my own grief, I worry about the depth of her pain & loneliness. Recently, they've gotten another dog but to be honest I'm not sure it's helping her. Kind of a long story there that is best told at another time.

There's more to my own story of grief, but that too is best told in another post. Right now I've got to find some tissues, again. My best advice right now is to not take any of your loved ones for granted, including the four-legged ones. And give them a little extra love from me. I've got plenty to spare at the moment. :(

1 comment:

Kwizgiver said...

Awww... such a sweet face and a great post. Sorry you lost a four-footed friend.