Friday, March 23, 2007

A Time to Die


I wonder if a dog could have a sense of the impending death of another companion dog? I wonder if that’s what prompted the escape yesterday of Jake and Dylan?
Dylan had continued to decline over the past 6 months. His weight was down from 80 pounds to a mere 65 pounds. I feared every morning when I came down the stairs that he would not be able to get his aging hips to support his weight. Perhaps Jake was noticing these things as well.
Maybe they had a conversation in dog language when they went outside after their breakfast that went something like this:
J: How ‘ya feeling today?
D: My hips hurt and I can’t see much of anything, but other than that I guess I’m OK.
J: If I can work this lock, want to make a break for it, you know one more fling out in the wild?
D: Sure, do your thing and let’s go before she opens the door again.
I never realized as I fed Dylan yesterday that it might be my last glimpse of him.
I wasn’t convinced that Dylan could walk even a few blocks, so that is why I was most surprised when they simply vanished. There are woods and wild places in multiple directions from my house, so even though I drove around looking for them, it was no surprise that I didn’t find them.
It was 9 hours later, around 4:00, when I was at my computer looking out the front window, that I spied Jake meandering into the yard, by himself. He had never left Dylan before, so I immediately became alarmed.
After he had some water and rested for a few minutes, we put his leash on and went out for what turned into a LONG walk, constantly telling Jake to FIND DYLAN and letting him lead us. Jake has the nose of a bloodhound, so there was never any doubt as to which way to go.
It was only when we got to the point at which Holmes Run, a small creek, crosses over a concrete spillway that Jake seemed to lose the scent. Had he and Dylan come together to this point? Had Dylan lost his footing on the slick moss-covered spillway and fallen into the deep water on the other side? There was no evidence of him anywhere, but Jake was done and we walked home, asking all passersby on the trail if they had seen an old black dog. People offered their encouragement, their prayers, but no one had any news for us.
We continued to jump every time the phone rang last night, but there were simply no calls about Dylan’s whereabouts. I started to think the worst, hoping that whatever happened, he had gone peacefully and without a struggle. I worried about the fox that we know lives in the woods. Even though he is bigger than the fox, I’m sure the fox is younger and still has his sight. My real hope was that he had simply run himself to death and curled up to drift peacefully off.
It was almost as if Jake had offered Dylan an honorable death. It would have been only a matter of time until I had to take him into the vet’s office to be put to sleep when he could no longer stand up. I can’t think of a worse way to go than by lethal injection in the sterility of an animal hospital.
My heart still aches for this dog who had been my constant companion for 13 years, who had never shown his teeth to man or beast, who had put up with the likes of Jake, and who embodied the meaning of the label "perfect dog".
Jake is in mourning too. I left him barking a very woeful bark this morning as I headed off to work, so unlike him. He will miss pushing his brother out of the way when a handout was offered. He will likely be depressed to be the only dog now.
But maybe, just maybe, he was responsible for easing Dylan out of this world in style.

10 Comments:

Blogger Kate said...

I am assuming from this post that you still have not found Dylan. But how wonderful that you can interpret Jake as being such a loving friend that he would take his compadre for one last "romp" in the woods.

My best to all of you in your sorrow.

Kate

2:02 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Pets often look for a way and a place to die that does not include their human companions. All of my dogs chose to go this way, and several of my cats. I hope for your peace of mind you find Dylan, but if you don't, I hope that the fact that he was not alone at the end is comforting to you.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

This morning, as I walked to the metro, I envisioned a similar conversation between your beloved dogs. I'm so sorry that you haven't heard anything about Dylan.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous David said...

a quick update for everyone. Dylan was found by the County Animal Control and returned home about 6:30 p.m. He was "stuck" down an embankment near Holmes Run Creek. But, he doesn't seem any worse for wear. Now, all is well again at our household.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

It's really good to see this guy again. After I pronounced him dead and gone, Dylan is back like a cat with 9 lives. Go read David's description of his homecoming.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

What an ordeal you guys have been through! I'm glad he's back if even for awhile longer. It is going to be hard when he does go, even though you know it's his time.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I cannot tell you how happy I am to know that Dylan returned. Best wishes to you.

1:27 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Goodie, goodie, goodie! (And phew!)

8:11 AM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

How sweet, how sad. All dogs go to heaven. I'm going to go and kiss mine!

12:13 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Then up again! Amazing!

12:14 PM  

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