The dog who loved me
I'm sorry I didn't tell you he was sick. Sorrier still that we couldn't talk about it this morning. I managed to hold things together all through my mother's illness and death but couldn't bring myself to talk about losing Zack the dog. It's not a more important bond that you have with your animal, but it’s a different one and so many people have contacted me to say that losing their dog or cat was an experience that left them completely gutted.
I didn't say anything about Zack being ill because I knew how much people loved him and it just seemed like too easy a way to ruin a person's day. And while Zack was my temporary dog, I didn't want people who met him to be preoccupied by the fact that he was up against an always terminal cancer.
Last summer a friend who had just put his dog to sleep looked at me and said "He was THE ONE". David had owned dogs all his life but this was the one unforgettable pooch. I've only ever owned one dog but I worry that Zack might have been my ONE. He was full of character, relentlessly cute and amazing company. I didn't have to do any of the heavy lifting when it came to meeting people because they were always more interested in Zack.
I write more about the last 31 weeks of our life together in today's National Post which also features a graphic by Chloe Cushman that breaks my heart.
We opted for chemotherapy to keep him around just a little longer. I don't have any regrets. Putting him to sleep on Saturday was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Your chest seizes up with an intense fear that you're doing the wrong thing when your little dog wags his tale and scarfs down treats from the vet who is about to end his life. But I learned so much from reading pet owners’ reflections on Andrew Sullivan's blog when he had to say goodbye to a beloved Beagle last summer. An overwhelming majority regretted waiting too long to end their pet's suffering. I realized if we kept Zack any longer it would only be out of our fear of being without him.
Kipling wrote that every man who gives his heart to a dog is only going to have it cut in two. But Christie Blatchford wrote to me on Sunday "It's always worth it though, isn't it?-- to love I mean. With people of course but dogs too".
It is and it was. And it will be again.