In May of 2011, my big dog took his final trip. His name was Dan, Danny, Danielson, Danel, Daniel, DippyDoo, and Big Dog. I found Dan at a shelter. He was 6 weeks old and had extra-big sized feet to grow in to. I knew as soon as I saw him that he was a Dane, but the shelter said he was a Shetland Sheepdog. His was a mutt combination that would make him a big lug who liked to herd his humans. And other dogs. And the cat.
That mutt combination kept him alive for thirteen years. After thirteen years, Danny and I were woven together like a blackbird’s nest in cattails. He was there through three schools, and four states, and two divorces. He was my rock, my constant, my always. Inextricable. Unseparable. Bound together. And him leaving left a massive, gaping hole in my life.
For the first days and weeks after his death, I filled that hole with crying. Ragged, outloud, ugly crying. I’d always thought that getting grief out would make me feel better but this crying only left me tired and raw.
And then I got mad. I was mad because I saw life was continuing on. My life was continuing on. I still had work, I still had relationships, I still had sleep, and food, and toiletries I had to deal with. I wanted it all to stop. I wanted to have the time to grieve. I wanted as much time as it took to honor a life that deserved to be honored. And most everyone I knew did not agree, did not understand, did not weep with me.
And then a day passed when I did not cry. And another day when I remembered some silly Dannyism and I laughed outloud.
Someday I’ll make it to California with a portion of Danny’s ashes. Dan loved the beach. He loved running in the sand and pooping in the sand. He loved chasing seasgulls or just standing with the sea wind in his face. I know he loved it because he always wanted to go and never wanted to leave. He smiled when he was on the beach; that big dog, dopey grin.
I miss him every single day; always will.
Long live the big dogs,