Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Reese

Transition times are difficult. The term is almost over. I have papers to grade and tests to writer. I am also a student and I completed my last paper. Grading students is a predictable marker of time. Completing a program is a significant passage. When this term is over I will also go into high gear preparing for symposium we are hosting. This is a time of change.

Other passages may be predictable but they are difficult. Today I had to take my dog to the vet one last time. Reese was fourteen, she had been in good spirits but declining health for the last year. We knew the time was approaching. Then she had a stroke. For a dog who loved to go on walks this was unacceptable. It was the right thing to do but it was sad.

Reese was the first dog I had as an adult. She was a red chow who was smart, loved life and especially loved her family. Three years ago her “sister” Chloe made the same final trip to the vet. Chloe was a nine year old Border collie mix and just a bundle of love.

This marks the end of an era. These were the dogs that were part of our family while the kids were growing up. These are the dogs that went for six walks a day, that were friends with all the neighbors, that added to our family persona.

Reese at home

Reese had been a beautiful animal. She had a tail that looked like a plume of feathers. She had a mane of hair that made her look like a lion. In her last years she lost both but still was an eye-catcher.

Because of Reese I saw things I never would have seen. We walked all over the city, especially by the rivers. One day we saw six herons at one time. We saw re-enactors man the historic fort, we saw a deer a block from our house. Because of Reese I walked under the bridges and over the Wells Street Bridge, I walked by damns and through many, many gardens. With Reese by my side I made friends with a number of the homeless men of the city. We walked and walked and walked.

My Dog, the Fort and Headwaters Park

Reese is a marker for our family. Our family watched her grow from a puppy to a senior citizen. We watched her teach Chloe how to be a part of our family. She was with me when I picked my young girls up from their friends’ houses after overnights. She went camping with us. She watched the girls learn to ride their bikes and use skates. Reese knew she was a central part of our family, she just wasn’t sure what part that was! At times she knew she was the center of the universe, at other times she was our protector, not infrequently she appeared to think she was one of our cats. What we all knew was that she was love pure and simple.

Reese Just Being Reese One Year Ago

In the last few weeks Reese walked less and was carried more. At first it was difficult for her to go up stairs and later, down them. Little imperfections in the ground became obstacles and she began to fall. Through it all her spirits were good. That changed with the stroke. She became fragile, frightened and we were frightened for her.

What I said three years ago for Chloe fits today for our beloved Reese;
“I am not confusing this with a tragedy. My specialty is disaster mental health. I am not confusing the death of my dog with trauma, untimely death or a disaster. I am also not confusing it with “just one of those things”. I know we are all grieving now. I know we will move on and remember all the good things about having Reese in our lives. But not today. Today we just know that a beloved member of our family is gone, there is a hole in our home and we are sad. We miss you Reese, thank you for giving us so much joy, we love you.”
Now, please go run and play with Chloe in that field of perpetually green grass, where pain and limitations do not exist and when you pause in your play please give Margaret a kiss for us.

Reese by the Fountain, Bridal Garden Foster Park

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