“You can hear it coming like a train out of control……….”
This song has always had a special meaning to me. And though the meaning has evolved through the years, the intensity of it only grows stronger.
The train that I hear coming – it’s moving fast and gaining speed. There is not a thing I can do to stop it except prepare for the disaster it will leave after it blows through my life and leaves me in pieces. Knowing it is coming doesn’t make preparing for the aftermath any easier. In fact, I wonder if it makes it harder.
Though I’ve been saying for a while that the end is near, I have no choice but to deal with the reality that my best friend is living on borrowed time. Precious, borrowed time. And though I thought I was ready for it, I know that there is no way to prepare yourself for the loss of a loved one. He may be furry and he walks on four legs, but he is my love…..my best friend…..the most unconditional love that I’ve ever experienced.
It was pure luck that on an early spring day in 1999, my best friend/roommate and I made an impromptu decision to get a dog. No research, no looking around to find the “right breed”…..we wanted the first dog we could find. Our search of the classified ads led us to an old lady’s home in Guy, Arkansas. Her german shepard had gotten knocked up by the neighbors collie, and she was pissed. She wanted to get rid of these dogs as soon as possible and told us to take as many as she wanted – she was sending them to the pound that weekend. She lived on a farm and all the puppies were living under an old pickup truck propped up on cinder blocks. As we knelt down to peek at the litter, all the puppies scattered away from us. Except one. His ears were twice the size of his head, and he was uncoordinated and awkward. He came running towards us, tripping and rolling on the way, as puppies usually do. There was no denying, this was our dog. We loaded him up in the car and took him home as fast as we could. He went for at least a week without a name. He was too special for any regular dog name, so we thought about it harder than any decision made by most college sophomores. No less than a week later, we decided on Moby Dick. Not after the literary character but after the Led Zeppelin song – a drum solo, specifically – “because there are no words to describe”.
And ever since that day in ’99, Moby has been my man, my one true love, my furry soulmate. There have been good times, and there have been bad – and Moby has been by my side through all of it. He always had this innate sense of my feelings. He would crawl in my lap and cuddle with me when I needed it the most. Or when I was crying my eyes out, he would join and howl at the top of his lungs with me. How he always knew exactly how to take care of me is beyond anything I will ever understand.
Now it’s my turn – to take care of him. There is so much that he can no longer do, and the list gets longer every day. It breaks my heart – not only because I know the end is getting closer, but because of the many things he can’t do. He used to be so active and capable of doing everything and anything. Now, going down a step into the backyard is a challenge, to say the least. My goal for every day is to get him to eat, and some days I fail.
After all this boy has done for me, I need to know that I’ve done everything in my power to keep him around as long as he should be. “Should be” is a very grey area, unfortunately. I am terrified of having to make the decision to put him to sleep, but I am equally terrified of keeping him around longer than he should be for my own selfish reasons. He is not suffering. If he was, I wouldn’t be so torn about making the decision. But he is so pitiful and often helpless. Not the dog he used to be, and certainly not the dog he would want me to remember.
Anyone who met or knew Moby recognized how special he was. Everyone has a Moby-story. Mostly funny, and many of them involving me chasing him and yelling at him. But everyone loved him. And he loved everyone. Most of all, me. Up until the last few weeks, his place was ALWAYS at my feet. He would sit for hours on end wherever I happened to be sitting, standing, dancing, cleaning, exercising, biking, walking. How lucky I’ve been to have someone who wants to be around me no matter how happy, sad, pissed, tired, grumpy, nervous, or excited I was. I know that I will never have the kind of unconditional love I’ve had with Moby.
I can’t imagine my life without Moby. I’ve had him for almost half of my life, which is so crazy to think about. I would rather lose a limb than lose him. I feel like I could function better without a leg than I could without him. I have tried to “prepare” myself for his expiration day, but how do you do that? I’ve been thinking about it for months now, but in the last few weeks it has consumed me completely. And I still don’t know the answer. Every morning, I wake up and the first thing I do is to check and see if he’s breathing. When I walk in the door from work, I wonder if today is the day I’ll find him non-responsive.
Unfortunately, my reality is that at a moment soon-to-arrive, he will either go on his own or I will have to make a decision to put him to sleep. I despise both of these bullshit options, but I know for sure that I don’t want to have to make the decision. So as awful as it sounds (and it is so terribly awful), I hope that he will go on his own. Soon, before I have to make the horrible dreadful decision.
In the last couple of days, I’ve spent several hours laying on his bed with him. Looking him in his eyes and telling him “it’s okay baby boy, you can go now. I will be okay. I love you so much. Please just let go.”
I hope he hears me, and more than anything, I hope he knows how much I love him.