So I sat on the floor at the Animal Hospital of West Nashville on a rainy Thursday afternoon in February and rested my right hand on my dog’s shaved belly as she drew her last breath. I sang to her, yes I did. And I cried like a baby.
The vet had reported that Quay had cancer in her liver, spleen, and adrenal glands. Big words were used, with scary sounding illness names. Such phrases as “palliative care” and “quality of life” were uttered. Hanging on to her, I think, would have been selfish, and unfair to that precious mutt. But my how I miss her already, a mere 15 hours later, this dog who kept me company on many a lonely night when I was single; who traveled with my husband and me to our honeymoon at the beach; who curled herself up tight on my friend Sheri’s chest the night I was 400 miles away at the bedside of my dying father.
“She knew,” said Sheri, when I called to say my father was gone.
Quay shed sitting still, and I suspect we will be vacuuming up remnants of her dog hair for months to come. Part of me will be glad for the remembrance, I suppose, but most of me will just be sad. She was known to lick anything that stood still, her spotted tongue flicking out with reckless abandon. She was a fine example of unabashed canine love, and I had forgotten how much it hurts to lose a four-legged friend. A lot.
Quay’s heritage was unknown, the best guess being a mix of Lab, German Shepherd, and Chow. But her heart was never a mystery.
The doorbell has just rung, and for the first time in 15 years, there is no barking, no mad dash of clicking nails across the hardwoods.