A little over 10 years ago, I suddenly lost a beloved dog to cancer when she underwent emergency surgery. At the time, my heart felt as though it were irretrievably broken. I said, “Never again!” I knew, being the animal lover that I am, that wouldn’t be the case, but it felt like it back then – and I didn’t think it would be possible to have such a close bond with a dog again. I wrote about it in an essay that I titled “Never Again.”
A few years later another dog came into my life that caused me to revisit those feelings. And I revised that essay with “Never Again: Further Thoughts.”
Lately it seems as though so many people I know have lost companion animals that they so dearly love. I thought that now would be a good time to share those “further thoughts.”
Never Again: Further Thoughts
Gyptsy died, and my heart broke – forever. Or so I thought.
When I straighten the rug in front of the antique chest, I would never again say, “Get up, baby,” or “Watch out, G,” to get her to move.
I would never again sweep up dog-treat crumbs and gremlins of dog hair out of the utility room. Or so I thought.
I would never again chuckle at she slept without a care in the world, on her back, belly exposed and legs every which way.
Dukey, my cat, would have no one to run to his rescue.
There would be no one to ask, “What do we need when we go for a ride?” There’s no one to answer, “A purse, of course,” by bringing it to me from wherever it was.
I would never again hear her footsteps as she wandered through the house to find me.
Gyptsy would never again come to me when she was frightened by gunfire or fireworks or crawl in bed with me when it starts to thunder in the middle of the night. But she will never again be afraid.
I would never again share a meal or a snack with her.
Dad would never again open a bag of potato chips or pretzels or a package of cheese or pour a bowl of cereal without an ache in his heart. Or so I thought.
Gyptsy would never again rest her head upon my knee.
Or give me a hug.
I would never again work in the yard and step back on a tennis ball.
I would never again reach back between the seats while I drive and have a paw placed in my hand. Or so I thought.
There would be no nose prints to clean off the windows. Or so I thought.
There would never again be dog toys left in the floor. Or so I thought.
No one would ever again announce the presence of neighbor dogs, strangers, varmints, and friends. Or so I thought.
There would be no one to warn the garbage man that the trash is all he better take.
The UPS man would have no one to save part of his sandwich for.
There would be no need for a sheet on the couch to protect it from dirty paws. Or so I thought.
Gyptsy would never again bring me the bag of treats when she wanted one.
Canned dog food, dry dog food and dog treats would never again be on the grocery list. Or so I thought.
Flies would never again scare her because there are no flies where she is now.
Dukey would never again utter his special meow he used only for G.
Flubby would have no dog to love. Or so I thought.
No one would ever again stand at the window and wait for me. Or so I thought.
Gyptsy would never again be asleep at my feet.
And Mom wasn’t there to make Gyptsy a memorial stone in stained glass.
But Gyptsy will always only know love. She will never again feel the cancer of our anger or grief or impatience or pain.
I would never again be loved like that. Or so I thought.
Gyptsy taught me how to be kind. And I have now learned to never say “never.”
Now I say, “Watch out, Trooper Joe,” as I straighten the rug.
There are dog-hair gremlins on the floor, but not many crumbs. Trooper doesn’t drop those.
I am reminded again of a dog, of Gyptsy, and how much Trooper resembles her.
Dukey is with Gyptsy now…and Mom, who sent Cody, my new cat, from Heaven to melt our hearts – and play with Trooper. And Flubby has another dog to love.
When we go for a ride, I have to get my own purse. But if I lost it, I know who’d find it for me.
I again hear footsteps wandering through the house looking for me.
Trooper likes gunfire and is not scared of storms. When he jumps into bed it’s for a back scratch. There’s a sheet on the couch, nose prints on the window and toys on the floor. And he has a vendetta for flies.
He shares my food.
And rests his head on my knee.
Dad’s aching heart has mended, and he has two waiting impatiently as he opens the cheese – Trooper well mannered and Cody, the cat, sitting up and begging.
Trooper’s not big on hugs, but loves giving kisses. And when I reach back between the seats in the car, he is there.
Trooper doesn’t know the UPS man, but he has lots of friends at work. He, too, tells the garbage man that the trash is all he better take.
He announces the presence of neighbor dogs, strangers, varmints, and friends.
I buy dog food and dog treats – and search-and-rescue gear.
When I can’t take him, he waits at the window for me to get home.
And sleeps at my feet.
My grief has abated, but when I am sad, Trooper seeks me out and shows me the meaning of kindness. I am loved like that again.