Friday, January 2, 2009

missing gus

We’ve stepped into January; the snow melted and turned to rain and it just keeps coming. The yard is soupy and covered with fallen sticks and leaves and the general rot of winter in our moderate climate. Funny thing is that the papillons will go out in it…but Maudie has to be pushed…she just does not like to get wet…Whereas Flynn used to back up in horror at the sight of rain, she now goes mincing out to potty pretty easily; Sonny barrels out and then barrels back in. Maudie looks stricken….

Gus’s absence is strange and deep. There is a clear feeling of being one less; the hole he used to fill is fuzzy and large. I miss his feathery little body curled up next to me, his perfect silky coat cool white and coal black with rusty thumbprints on his brow and cheeks. I even miss that odd smell of metal and spit he gave off these last months. I miss the way he would dance around all bossy and excited to get a cookie or be told how fine and handsome he was while getting a back scratch. I miss the top of his head where the white hairs of his head mingled with the black, and instead of being clearly delineated, they meshed. I miss his upturned bridge and his tiny front teeth. I miss the way his front feet folded when he rolled on his back for a tummy scratch…the fur on his fragile forearm that seemed always to be growing back after being shaved, the bright pink or purple vet tape that held the gauze to the vein that had been punctured for a sample or a tube. The little brown map that was left on the gauze after the tape was rolled off. I even miss how quiet it is when I and the other 3 dogs go to bed. He would already be there with Mark and would get in a snit about us disturbing them.

It’s that physical absence of a dog that is so painful. The feel of them, the smell, the sound conjures tears and an ache of loss. Our relationships are so about being physical and close, touch and smell. We watch them poop, they follow us into the bathroom too. There is no shame; there is just a being in the world together. And when one is gone, certain ease goes with it…a dance partner has bowed out…a team member folded, a comforter gone cold.


  1. That was beautifully written. It seems so unfair that we love them so much for such a relatively short period of time.

  2. maybe we just get to touch them for a short time...and love them forever...;-)

  3. Elizabeth,
    I haven't looked at your blog in a long time, obviously, and I did not realize you had lost one of your dogs. My heart goes out to you and your sweet Gus. You sent me such comforting words back in the summer when the second of my two dachshunds died. I wanted to let you know that I have a new little love in my life, a westie named Roxie. Her disposition is so sunny and her cup is not only half-full, but it overflows. She is a great source of joy in my life and, thankfully, her puppy chewing days seem to have subsided greatly since she came to live with my husband and me late in the summer (a good deal of my furniture, however, looks like kindling wood now! :) ) I am enjoying the MFA program at PSU, by the way, in part thanks to your writing me a letter of recommendation. I know your Gus looks down from above and smiles his doggie smile at you and the rest of the pack. Your blog is terrific.