Saturday, June 19, 2010

RIP Yoda

As it turned out those summer evening walks with Yoda were short lived.

During his last days Yoda was confined to a downstairs bathroom after numerous mishaps on the wooden floors. Mishap is a convenient word that masks the unpleasant reality. Dogs like people can go downhill fast and their last days are seldom dignified either.

Still from the outside Yoda looked like any other small 11-year-old dog, graying in places, but still up for a walk.

Because of his confinement I made a point of taking him out around the development nightly. Zara would join me and the experience proved strangely bonding.

For that half an hour Yoda was his old self again, gamely skuttling along with sidewalks, flitting in and out of the pale white lights and the benign shadows of the homes.

As people settled down for the night the twilight took on soft edges, the crickets chirped in the nether distance and a half moon rode up in the clear southern skies.

On such nights Zara and I would count the frogs on the sidewalks and joke as I swung the trash into the hole in the dumpster, often missing on the first attempt.

Here and there a solitary figure would be seen on a patio, mumbling an evening greeting or low conversation from a couple sitting under an umbrella would drone like bees across the lawns. But for the most part we had the night to ourselves. Walking was addictive. It felt like we could go on until the pink dawn glittered in the east, but in reality our walks were seldom longer than 40 minutes.

And Yoda, with his bold Union Jack festooned lead from Harrods, seemed to belong to another time; a time of hope and possibility before routine set in.

I had driven down to Monaco with Nic more than eight years ago to leave him with a solitary pet sitter, who lived alone with her dogs in a house perched on the side of a hillside. In the south of France even the concrete pillars of the nearby flyover, seemed to resembed a piece of modern art.

Yoda had criss crossed the streets of Nice and Toronto and tore up the grass in his speed in Regent's Park. He had been smuggled into numerous restaurants in his carrier and occasionally developed hicups which we had disguised by strategically coughing as we ordered from the menu.

And all of the time he had loathed me, making a point of barking when I came into the room. For long months at a time I would return the compliment, while stopping short of actually barking.

When Nic moved to the US a few months earlier than me, we shared a terraced house in London and an atmosphere that could have been sliced with a 5-ft long chain saw. I would glare at his histrionics and he would pee on the kitchen floor to spite me.

When I had to catch him to put him in a large container for the flight, he bit me. But after the plane landed at Dulles and I saw the solitary container drawfed by the tale of the jumbo, I felt a small wave of something I had never felt before and later made a point of going out to the gas station to being beef jerky back to the Days Inn.

Yesterday when he was taken to be euthanized I felt curiously detached. Death can do that to me. If I attend a funeral it always feels like I am watching someone else's life and death from a faraway place.
But the house felt emptier when I turned my key in the door last night and instead of barking there was silence.

And recalling all those escapades, those dark rainy days when youths would mock us during walks and yell out "rat on a string" made me realize how a dog can intwine itself with many lives and will always be there darting and barking in and out of all those jagged and half remembered memories for better or for worse.

A small dog may be a small consideration but death is death and Yoda's death seems like a precursor of worse to come, a small and furry but significant equation in balance with this life, this death.
We may walk again tonight under the southern skies. But then there will be two.

4 comments:

  1. We had to put our dog down in February, and I had/have similar feelings. I didn't realize what a big part of my life she was until she was gone. This is a beautifully written tribute.

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  2. I'm sorry for your loss, David, even if you and Yoda were a bit uncomfortable occupying the same space sometimes. My sister has a similar relationship to her husband's dog. Still, you tried your best and made some progress, and I'm sure that beef jerky was appreciated. :)

    He was aptly named; his face looks like his namesake's.

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  3. ((hugs)) May happy memories fill your heart.

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  4. Awww, David, I'm sorry for your loss :(
    Up until about four years ago I had one dog, a collie named Tara for fifteen years.
    And I had a similar relationship with her like yours.
    We'd been through a lot together.

    Great post, loving your writing style.
    ...Zara and I would count the frogs on the sidewalks... love it!

    Thanks a bunch for your wonderful comment on my birthday! It means a lot!!

    I consider you as my blogging friend I dare to say.
    Happy Sunday!

    ~Betty Manousos :)

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