Those of you that are not pet owners may not fully grasp my feelings in this post, which is about my beloved dog, BJ who is now with the angels after almost 12 years with us. But I’m sure most of you can appreciate the feeling of loss of a loved one. Through most of my earlier life I was a cat owner and somewhat afraid of dogs. BJ changed all that for me. It is difficult to describe why my pain is so profound and how the ache in my heart feels so deep. People say, “Well he is a family member”, which of course is absolutely true. But there is much more to it I feel. The feeling of loving without strings, where the commerce of the relationship is where you agree to take care of him, give him food and water, get him outside to do his business, play with him and finally take care of him when he is sick. And he repays with love and affection and all his wonderful quirky personality traits that you try your best to capture on camera and/or video (and always seems to refuse to do when you ask). And finally, there is the guilt of the euthanasia decision. These things are not Hallmark presents T.V. decisions where the loved one peacefully leaves, it’s wrenching. In the end, it’s the dog’s innocence in all of this, his love and trust in you that affects you most and the ultimate decision that you unfortunately have to make.
I’m not sure when I will get over this. But I am writing, trying to compose music for him, and to keep myself occupied as I avoid the little holes in my life that are now there, which used to be filled with our little routines. Even negative ones, for example that little drama of leaving your dinner plate out there exposed for a second while you retrieve the silverware or the beverage. I would gladly replay those moments and have him take my food over and over again just to let BJ experience the gusto of life that was once coursing through his veins. As I once mentioned in an earlier blog, pet grief is particularly severe for the Raneys. Pet loss used to be one of the major triggers for my father’s alcoholic binges. I don’t have a drinking problem, so I basically cry in my little intimate moments. The last one was this morning where I had to throw away his uneaten food, his food bowl and his medicines. Particularly in the last year, my daily routine of kissing him on the top of the head and snout telling him, “Daddy loves BJ” before I went to sleep and watching as his eyes would get a bluish color (like a mood ring) was just an intimate moment of pure love, that intensified as his illness progressed further and further as I was clinging to him harder and harder, fighting the inevitable, as I was pretty sure I would lose him within the year. In reality I’m not certain if he died of Cushing’s Disease or if in hindsight we had misinterpreted and it was dermatomyositis. Or maybe it was a combination of several things which also included his ongoing thyroid condition. It was likely of the auto-immune variety and medicines could not fully combat this illness which in reality was probably always with him since he was young but more or less under control. But in the end it was a horrible thing, and my walk-up apartment only intensified his suffering and my guilt.
But to move away from things that will make me weep right here and make an effort to preserve the good things and cherish them. Here are a list of his most endearing unique features:
- Would drag his bowl across the kitchen floor (video hopefully pending) when there was no water in it. He would often just give it a snap scooting it like a hockey puck so it was loud and we would get the message from the other room.
- He would pet his own head, basically as a suggestion for you to do the same.
- Would get up on the hind legs draped over bed, waiting for you to massage his back. He would bark until you did it.
- Couldn’t get enough of celery (see youtube video below) and carrots. A vegetarian dog owner’s dream
- Was afraid of cats. Would start dragging you across the street suddenly when he spotted one. Would attack a larger dog if threatened though. You figure.
- Would pull your arm off of your computer to make you stop typing (see above)
We Love you, B.J. You will always be in our hearts
R.I.P. BJ Raney (2001-2013)